It is mainly the protein content that distinguishes them, but there is also the presence or absence of sound and some additives. The proteins naturally present in wheat have the particularity to unite when the flour is mixed with a liquid. The union of these proteins creates a sticky and elastic network called “gluten”. It gives structure and elasticity to breads (a good thing!), But it can make chewy cakes and muffins and broken pasta hard (a bad thing!). The success of a recipe depends almost as much on the choice of flour as on the preparation technique. Here are some details on the different flours and their uses.
Bread flour is only for making breads. Its high protein content (13 to 14%) ensures a strong and elastic gluten, allowing breads to rise higher, faster.
All purpose flour
With an intermediate protein content (12%), all-purpose white flour, as its name suggests, is as suitable for making breads as cakes, muffins, biscuits, bars, broken pasta, and so on. Unbleached all-purpose flour is identical except that it does not contain benzoyl peroxide, an additive used to whiten the yellowish pigments that are naturally present in freshly ground flour. It’s my favorite flour. I like its beautiful creamy yellow hue!
Whole wheat flour
A little richer in protein (14%) than all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour contains flakes of bran. Wheat germ, which is rich in polyunsaturated oil, is often removed from these flours to prevent rancidity. Ground stone flour can still contain the germ, you have to find out! Whole wheat flour can replace white flour cup for cup in virtually any recipe. But expect a darker crumb and a slightly heavier texture. To compensate, I go half and half. I get a very acceptable product with the advantage of containing more fiber and a delicate nutty flavor!
Cake and pastry flour
Cake and pastry flour is the lightest of all flours. With 9 to 10% protein, you can not make a loaf! In addition, it is treated with chlorine, an additive that gives it its immaculate whiteness but, also, which impairs the formation of gluten. Book it for your cakes: they will only be lighter and dizzying! Your pie crusts are still hard? Try a recipe made from cake flour. Guaranteed tenderness! Because cake flour is lighter than all-purpose flour, substitute 1 cup + 2 tbsp (280 mL) of each 250 mL (1 cup) of all-purpose flour.
Do you know the “prepared” flour? This is a cake and baking flour that already contains 7 mL (1 1/2 teaspoon) baking powder and 1 mL (1/4 teaspoon) salt per 250 mL ( Cup). Little known to younger generations, the “Brodie xxx” brand remains popular with our aunts and grandmothers.
As for instant flour, it has undergone a particular treatment which gives it a more granular texture than ordinary flour. Result: it is incorporated more easily in hot or cold liquids without forming lumps! Ideal for thickening soups, stews and sauces. It can also replace cup for cup all-purpose flour in recipes for cookies, muffins, square and bars.
Measure the flour well!
There is a standard technique for measuring flour (Ricardo uses it to develop its recipes!). First aerate the flour by stirring gently. Place in a measuring cup for dry ingredients (as pictured), not in a liquid cup, using a spoon. Then, equalize with a knife. Avoid immersing the cup directly in the bag of flour, shaking it or tamping it down, at the risk of adding up to 30 g more per 250 ml (cup). That’s 30 to 45 ml (2 to 3 tbsp) more flour. What to weigh down any recipe!
If you stay a long time in the United States, know that all-purpose flours made in the South (ie White Lily, Martha White …), contain only 9% protein and react rather like our cake flours , which can change the texture of your cakes. To prepare all-Canadian flour recipes, look for King Arthur, Pillsbury or Gold Medal brands (11-12% protein). At your ovens!
The advice comes from Ricardo Cuisine