Knowing Your Flours!

I still remember the day walking into baking class and our teacher said POP QUIZ! Pop quiz? What on earth is she able to quiz us on? Baking something? Well not exactly, what she should have said was Taste Test! She brought out a tray of different ingredients and we had to correctly identify each one. Easy right? Well maybe for a skilled baker but we were just learning! 6 or 7 different types of flour that all looked similar, 4 different types of sugar, chocolate, and even oils (those I left to my eye to figure out)! It was a great exercise because I can now look back and think if I were to take that pop quiz again that I would ace it!

So here I’m going to focus on the 4 main types of flour when it comes to baking, as a lot of people are still in the dark about them. In baking, flour can definitely be one of your most important ingredients, especially since its usually the base of whatever you’re making!

All-Purpose Flour

If you’re going to only have one type of flour in your household, then it better be All-Purpose. The name says its all. The average shelf life for AP Flour is around 18 months from the date it was produced. So with that being said it’s best to keep it dry and in a clean area. I keep all my ingredients in air-tight containers to help them last longer! One thing that I had to do quite a bit when we would forget to place an order for AP flour was make it! You can do that by simply taking equal parts Bread & Pastry flour and thoroughly mixing them together. It’s a quick fix if you keep both flours handy!

This type of flour is best for : baked goods such as cookies, and bread.

Bread Flour

This type of flour has more protein content than AP Flour, this helps with the gluten development. Generally, this type of flour is going to give you a heavier/denser loaf than if you were to use AP Flour. This type of flour is also ideal when you’re trying to reach and chewy texture. So if you’re making a cake, stay away from this flour!

This type of flour is best for: anything you would like a chewy/heavier texture for – pretzels, bread, etc.

Cake Flour

This type of flour is just as obvious as the name states, its great for making cakes! Its going to give you a very tender result because it has such a low protein content. Although I wouldn’t consider cake & all-purpose flour to be interchangeable, you can use AP flour if you’re in a pinch as a substitute for cake flour.

This type of flour is best for: tender cakes. 

Pastry Flour

This type of flour is similar to cake flour as their protein levels are about the same. This is a go-to flour for many people who are used to using different flours to produce different products.

This type of flour is best for: pie/tart dough, and muffins.