The 4 Types of Flour You Can Use in Baking [and How to Substitute Them]
Let’s talk about flour.
Looking at the shelves in the supermarkets, you'd think that just about everyone has finally found the time to take a step back, and cook from scratch using fresh ingredients.
Also, baking is a great family activity to keep the kids entertained for a while.
However, the distribution chain wasn't quite ready for the demand right now, so often, even if you can find a couple of bags of flour, chances are it's not actually what you were looking for.
In the past few days, we’ve been buying flour wholesale and making it available for our clients to purchase.
We still have most kinds in stock, but what if you want to bake a cake or a loaf of bread, open your cupboard and find you only have plain flour?
Here is the difference between all the kinds of flours - and what can you do to fix it, if you find you only have the wrong type for what you need.
The main difference between flours is the gluten content. It varies due to its origin whether it’s made from hard wheat or soft wheat. Gluten is the component that helps yeast to stretch and rise.
1. SELF RAISING
Often used for baking cakes. Self raising is usually made from soft wheat and helps give your baked goods a soft and fluffy texture.
This kind of flour has baking powder and salt to the source. It can be used for baking bread, without adding baking powder and salt. You should expect a softer and not crusty kind of bread.
2. BREAD/STRONG/PIZZA FLOUR
This flour has a high content of gluten. It helps the dough to rise quickly and creates a nice crusty surface. Usually it's unbleached. It's best used in yeast bread recipes.
3. ALL PURPOSE/PLAIN FLOUR
All purpose flour is really the hero here. A mixture of soft and hard wheat flour. It can be used for most things including bread (adding yeast), cakes (adding baking powder), cookies, biscuits and so on.
So, keeping a bag or two of this around the house could be worthwhile for when you find yourself short on self raising or strong flour.
4. 00 FLOUR/PASTA FLOUR
Pasta flour AKA 00 Flour differs from plain flour because of the level of grind. As plain flour, it is a mixture of soft and hard wheat and has a medium gluten content.
You can substitute it with plain flour, but the texture will be slightly different.
HOW WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY IN ITALY
To close this article, I wanted to just take a little reflection on cultural differences between here in Scotland, and how we do things in Italy.
In Italy, we tend not to have plain/self raising flour. We have just plain flour that is 0, 00 or 000.
We also have a specific baking powder that has vanilla flavouring added, sometimes we use potato starch too. Another thing we tend to use more of is dry live yeast, rather than dried yeast - so most of our recipes have that as an ingredient.
TO SUM IT UP…
All purpose flour is really the best thing to have in your house if you find yourself low on flour. It can be used for most things, with just a little bit of additional ingredients.
I hope this helps give you a better idea of the 4 types of flour and how you can best put them to good use. Remember, there’s no harm in making the best out of what you have.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or you wish to place an order for your baking ingredients.