Flour, Grains & Meals

Flour that we are used to comes primarily from wheat, although it can be milled from nuts, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables. From its proteins, wheat flour is the only flour and grain to form a strong, cohesive dough that will retain gas and produce light baked goods. All wheat flours are not alike--you can't switch from one type to another without wrecking havoc with your recipe. (I have found that flour substitutes do not work as well as they should, anyway.) It is extremely important to use the right flour that is of a good quality.

FLOUR TYPES: WHEAT FLOUR AND NON-WHEAT FLOUR
WHEAT FLOUR: (Wheat Foods Council) Flour is the product obtained by grinding wheat kernels or "berries." The kernel consists of three distinct parts: bran, the outer covering of the grain; germ, the embryo contained inside the kernel; and endosperm, the part of the kernel that makes white flour. During milling, the three parts are separated and recombined accordingly to achieve different types of flours.
There are six different classes of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, hard white, soft white and durum. The end products are determined by the wheat's characteristics, especially protein and gluten content. The harder the wheat, the higher the amount of protein in the flour. Soft, low protein wheats are used in cakes, pastries, cookies, crackers and Oriental noodles. Hard, high protein wheats are used in breads and quick breads. Durum is used in pasta and egg noodles.
Some commercially processed flours contain toxic chemicals that are used to whiten and oxidize them. I have found that these chemicals significantly affect the outcome of certain recipes and prefer to use a pure flour that does not contain any unnecessary additives. For this reason, I always use King Arthur flours or flour that is called: "unbleached and unbromated" from the grocery store. (Bromates are not listed in most states).
Bleached vs unbleached: one main difference between unbleached and bleached flour is the color; one is off-white and the other is pure white. Technically speaking, the carotenoid (yellow) pigments in the flour are oxidized to produce white flour. Flours treated with these bleaching agents must be labeled as bleached. If a recipe doesn't specify, you can use either one, but where a whiter color is desired, use the bleached one. For those looking for untreated flour, note that unbleached flour can still contain maturing agents and chemical dough improvers (listed on the label).
Potassium bromate, a potentially carcinogenic chemical, has been used extensively as both an oxidizer and a conditioner. (In California, any food containing potassium bromate must carry a warning label.) Common maturing agents include potassium bromate (used mainly in the midwest and the east) and ascorbic acid (used mainly in the west).
There are other permissible chemical additives used to whiten and oxidize flour: such as chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, and chlorine gas. Breads treated with these agents will generally exhibit increased loaf volume, finer grain and an improved look. People with especially sensitive palates can detect a bitter aftertaste from flours treated with these chemicals.
What else is added to flour?: A small amount of malted barley flour is usually added to all-purpose flour to increase the level of enzyme activity in the flour. Malted barley flour is made from sprouted barley that is dried and ground. This sprouting stimulates the production of enzymes that break starch into sugars, on which the yeast feeds.
What is enriched flour?: in the 1940s, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that every all-purpose flour be "enriched," so small amounts of iron, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin are added. In the future, folic acid, a member of the vitamin B complex, will be added to this list.

There are as many as 30 types of protein in wheat flour, but only two of those are important for our purposes: gliaden and glutenin. When they come in contact with moisture (water, milk, etc.) and are stirred, they produce gluten which gives elasticity, strength and shape to baking recipes.
Wheat flour contains starch. The word starch originates from a German word meaning 'stiff'. Other common kitchen starches are cornstarch, maize flour, tapioca, and semolina. When a starch is added and heated it swells'' and expands sucking in any available moisture in its surroundings thereby giving the product more stability.
Wheat starch begins to gelatinize (absorb water and set) between 140 and 158 degrees F, the exact temperature dependent is the specific starch. By definition, gelatinization is a phenomenon which takes place in the presence of heat and moisture.

Before flour is packaged at the mill, it is well-sifted. During shipment, the flour settles and becomes compressed. Before you measure it, you want to return it to its airy state so that each cup of flour weighs about 4 ounces.
If you scoop out the flour directly from the sack without fluffing it, the amount will be greater and can weigh 5 to 5-1/2 ounces. This extra ounce per cup can make a big difference in the final outcome of baked goods, especially bread.
To aerate and measure the flour, fluff up the flour in the bag or storage container with a fork or whisk until light. To correctly measure flour, spoon into a one-cup dry measure. When the cup is full, level with the flat edge of a knife blade or spatula.












ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR OR SIMPLY CALLED "FLOUR", "OCCIDENT FLOUR" OR "WHITE FLOUR": All-purpose flour is one of the most commonly used, unless you have allergies or special needs, and is readily accessible flour in the United States. You can use either unbleached or bleached and you don't need to buy a fancy brand; flour from the grocery store is perfectly fine. (I always use unbleached all-purpose flour).
Just make sure to pay attention to whether your all-purpose flour is bleached or not; bleached versions have slightly lower amounts of protein. The bran and germ have been removed, giving the flour an off-white color, called unbleached, which can be chemically bleached to white, called bleached. However, the differences between the two can be slight because you can readily substitute all purpose, unbleached with bleached, 1 for 1.
Flour can be used as a thickener. To do, blend flour thoroughly with fat before liquid is added, as in a white sauce or gravy, or blend with cold liquid before adding to thicken a hot mixture, such as a stew. In sweet mixtures, combine flour with sugar before hot liquid is added. Flour needs at least five minutes of cooking time to thicken.

There are several basic types of all-purpose flour:
Enriched All-Purpose Flour has iron and B-vitamins added in amounts equal to or exceeding that of whole wheat flour.
Bleached Enriched All-Purpose Flour is treated with chlorine to mature the flour, condition the gluten and improve the baking quality. The chlorine evaporates and does not destroy the nutrients but does reduce the risk of spoilage or contamination.
Unbleached Enriched All-Purpose Flour (or Occident Flour) is bleached by oxygen in the air during an aging process and is off-white in color. Nutritionally, bleached and unbleached flour are the same.
UNBLEACHED ENRICHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR - 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
121 4 g 0 g 29 g 0 g 0 mg


Before flour is packaged at the mill, it is well-sifted. During shipment, the flour settles and becomes compressed. Before you measure it, you want to return it to its airy state so that each cup of flour weighs about 4 ounces.
If you scoop out the flour directly from the sack without fluffing it, the amount will be greater and can weigh 5 to 5-1/2 ounces. This extra ounce per cup can make a big difference in the final outcome of baked goods, especially bread.
To aerate and measure the flour, fluff up the flour in the bag or storage container with a fork or whisk until light. To correctly measure flour, spoon into a one-cup dry measure. When the cup is full, level with the flat edge of a knife blade or spatula.

BOLTED FLOUR: (20 % flour) This is a whole wheat flour that has had about 80 percent of its bran sifted off. It may also be called ?unbleached flour? or ?reduced bran flour.?
BREAD FLOUR: Bread flour, also referred to as "strong white flour" or "strong flour", is a high-gluten flour usually milled from hard wheat. It contains a high percentage of protein which forms gluten when moistened.
Bread flour is used in bread recipes because it creates a gluten network strong enough to trap the gases from the yeast, but not good in quick-breads, cookies and cakes, which need a lesser one. If you're baking sourdough bread, bread flour's high gluten content is a big help in getting the dough to rise well.
It's best to only substitute a small portion of bread flour with grains other than wheat, such as rye, are used, instead. Those grains don't contain any gluten of their own It can be substituted 1 for 1 with all-purpose, but proceed with caution because there may be a difference in the end result.
BULGUR: Bulgur, for all practical purposes, is considered a whole grain, but as much as 5 percent of the bran may be removed in the processing. Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it, removing some of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces. Because it is a par-cooked product, bulgur is a convenience food, and in some recipes requires only the addition of hot water or broth for preparation. Bulgur makes an excellent cereal, salad, side-dish or additive to breads, soups and casseroles.
?Cake Flour Substitute: 1 cup cake flour equals 1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably bleached) minus 2 tablespoons, and then add in 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Combine. NOTE: It doesn't always work in all recipes.

CAKE FLOUR: This enriched and bleached flour is used in producing fine high-ratio, chiffon and angel food cakes, as well as assorted cookies. (Cakes with a high amount of sugar and liquid in proportion to flour.)
Milled from soft white flour, cake flour has a lower gluten content than whole wheat pastry flour. It is used where a delicate and tender texture is desired. Almost all cake flour is bleached. to lighten its pale beige color. In delicate cakes, it imparts some acidity to a batter yielding a cake with a crumb that's whiter, finer and sweeter in flavor. Bleached cake flour also toughens the protein molecules, enabling the flour to carry more than its weight in sugar.
Most grocery stores carry cake flour, but it is in a 2 lb. box not a bag as regular flour is. Common brands are Swans Down (red box with yellow cake on it) or else Softasilk (I prefer this brand although it seems to be hard to find now).
Cake Flour Substitute: 1 cup cake flour equals 1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably bleached) minus 2 tablespoons, and then add in 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Combine. NOTE: It doesn't always work in all recipes.
CAKE FLOUR, SELF-RISING: 1 CUP self-rising cake flour is equal to 1 CUP cake flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt. There is also self-rising all-purpose flour.
CLEAR FLOUR: It is the portion of flour remaining after the patent flour has been taken off. Clear flour is further categorized as ?first clear? and ?second clear.? The secret to making real Jewish-style rye is using First Clear Flour, a high-ash (read: big flavor), high-protein wheat flour responsible for the chewy bite for which rye breads are known for.
CORNSTARCH
DOUGH ENHANCERS: When added to a bread recipe, they will give that look of a perfect loaf:
WHOLE WHEAT DURUM FLOUR - 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
142 5.6 g 1 g 29 g 5 g 0 mg

DURUM FLOUR: is a by-product of milling semolina flour that has a the highest protein content with less starch of any flour. (It's nutritional profile similar to whole wheat.) As a result, it makes a tough dough that can stretch and expand?perfect for pasta. It is generally used in commercially made short goods pasta such as elbow macaroni and shells.
FARINA: Flour or meal made from grain or starchy roots. Also sold as Cream of Wheat, farina is made from the endosperm of the grain, which is milled to a fine granular consistency and then sifted. Although the bran and most of the germ are removed, this cereal is sometimes enriched with B vitamins and iron. Farina is most often served as a breakfast cereal, but can also be cooked like polenta. Its name comes from the Latin word for meal or flour, which in turn traces to far, the Latin name for spelt, a type of wheat. Farina was the first genuine flour.
FORTIFIED FLOUR: refers to an all-purpose flour, usually wheat, to which nutrients like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, removed during refining, have been added back.
GRAHAM FLOUR: Hard whole wheat flour with a course and flaky outer bran layer, and finely ground germ. Most famous use is in crackers. Adds texture to all baked goods.
GLUTEN FLOUR - 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
110 12 g 0.5 g 14 g 0 g 0 mg

GLUTEN FLOUR: Gluten flour is white flour mixed with concentrated wheat protein. Gluten flour has a much higher percentage of gluten - between 40 to 80% protein. Performs well in bagels, thin crust pizza, hard rolls, hearth breads and "heavy" breads such as those with extra bran, raisins, nuts and sugar
To give recipes a boost, add: 2 tablespoons per cup of flour in whole grain bread; 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon per cup of flour in white breads. You may have to experiment over a few batches of bread to get the amount just right but that's part of the fun and creativity of baking. Increase kneading time to activate extra gluten.
Gluten flour is never used by itself for making bread, because it is too high in protein to be able to work with easily. However, if the recipe to be made in a bread machine, uses a flour that's low in gluten, the instructions may call for the addition of some gluten flour. As all-purpose flours can vary from 9-13% protein, those on the light side may benefit from a bit of strengthening.
INSTANTIZED FLOUR: is a quick-mixing flour which mixes very quickly into liquids and produces lump-free batters and gravies. See also, Wondra.
WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY FLOUR - 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
76 3 g 0 g 17 g 2 g 0 mg

PASTRY FLOUR: Is available in supermarkets and specialty stores and comes as either plain or whole wheat. It is a low-gluten flour used in delicate cakes and pastries. Absorbs less liquid in recipes. It is from soft red winter or soft white winter wheat for use in biscuits, pancakes, pie crust, cookies, muffins and brownies, pound and sheet cakes. This flour is available either bleached or unbleached as well as whole wheat and regular. If you can't find pastry flour, there are some sources for it listed on this site. Generally, you can mix 1 cup of cake flour and 2 cups of all-purpose flour and get a good close protein mix to use for pastry flour, but it doesn't work as well.
?Patent flour is the purest and finest grade of flour. It can be all-purpose or cake flour depending on the types of wheat used. Patent flour is the ?cut? of flour from the front of the mill and is considered very high quality. Clear flour is the portion of flour remaining after the patent flour has been taken off.
The differences in flour from patent to straight grade to clear flours are related to the level of bran and protein quantity/quality in the flour. Patent flour has the least bran and protein content, while second clear flour has the greatest bran and protein content.

PATENT FLOUR - WINTER: Flour milled from a select blend of hard winter wheat. Used to produce pan style breads, buns, soft rolls, sweet goods, thick pizza crust, and specialty baked goods.
PATENT FLOUR - SPRING: Flour milled from a select blend of primarily hard spring wheat. Used to produce variety breads, pizza crusts, sweet goods, hard and soft rolls.
SELF-RISING FLOUR, ALL-PURPOSE: Not to be confused with self-rising cake flour which is different. Self-rising flour is intended to be a convenience for bakers because the baking powder and salt have already been added to it. However, it has the disadvantage of deteriorating quickly when exposed to humid conditions. 1 CUP self-rising flour is equal to 1 CUP all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.
SEMOLINA FLOUR -
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
120 4 g 0.5 g 25 g 2 g 0 mg

SEMOLINA: Semolina is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat. Never bleached and high in protein, it is used to make the highest quality "white" pasta. Adds extra flavor and texture in some bread recipes. It is also used to make couscous - a North African and Latin American dish which is quickly becoming a staple in North America. FYI: Durum flour is a by-product in the production of semolina and is used for American noodles, some pastas and some specialty breads.
TWENTY PERCENT (20 %) FLOUR
?Most vital wheat glutens are guaranteed to contain 75% protein, dry basis, or about 71% protein, as is. The addition of each pound of gluten to 100 pounds of flour increases the protein content of the flour/gluten blend by approximately 0.6%. Example: 100 pounds of flour at 11.0% protein plus 1 pound of gluten produces a blend containing 11.6% protein.

VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN: Vital Wheat Gluten is used in certain types of breadmaking. It gives the yeast in the recipe a boost because it contains a high amount of gluten forming proteins. I use it in my heavier breads that rise slowly, such as rye, whole grains, or ones loaded with sugar, dried fruit and nuts. Your loaves should rise higher and have better volume. FYI: Some bakers use it all the time when using a Bread Machine especially when using whole grain or all-purpose flour.
One widely available brand in the grocery store is Hodgson Mills - it comes in about a 10 oz box. You can also obtain it online from King Arthur Flour. After opening you can either reseal the inner packet or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. If you use it often, just storing it in a dark pantry is fine, but place the box in an airtight bag or container.
Use 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose, 1- 2 teaspoons per cup of bread flour or 1-1/2 to 3 teaspoons for every cup of whole grain or rye flours.
#Add more fiber to baked goods: With the flour, I blend in an additional 1/3 - 1/2 cup raw bran flakes to my quick-bread, pancake, muffin and other recipes. Unprocessed bran has 24 grams of fiber per cup while whole wheat flour has 12 grams of fiber per cup.


UNPROCESSED BRAN: 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbs fiber sodium
30 12 g 0.5 g 10 g 6 g 0 mg

WHEAT GERM or BRAN, UNPROCESSED BRAN: Though not a flour, wheat germ, either untoasted or toasted, can be used in place of up to 1/3 of the flour in a recipe or just added for flavor and fiber. It's perfect in pancakes and other baked goods as well as meat or vegetable loaves. I use Miller's Bran (unprocessed bran flakes), a natural source of dietary fiber, found in grocery and natural foods stores. It is less coarse than wheat germ and gives a better (lighter) texture to baked goods.
Wheat germ is an excellent source of Vitamin E from the vitamin and mineral-rich outer layer of the wheat berry. Purchase it from a grocery or health food store; but beware, it goes rancid quickly, so try and get the freshest possible and refrigerate or freeze it. I prefer to use the freezer; no need to thaw before using.
WHOLE GRAIN (MEAL): (Whole Grains Council) Whole grains are foods that contain the entire plant kernel that is humanly edible, whereas refined grains are products that are stripped of the more coarse, fibrous part of the kernel as well as germ or seed. Wholemeal (100%) flour can be made from wheat and rye, with both organic grain and conventional grain. Research studies support that a heart-healthy diet rich in whole grains and other plant foods can be an ally in reducing your risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer.
Bulgur (non-wheat grain): Enjoy it as a main meal side dish or cold as tabbouleh salad. Look for Arrowhead Bulgur Wheat.
? Whole Wheat: Buy 100 percent whole wheat flour, pasta, crackers and cereals. Look for brands such as for Westbrae Natural Whole Wheat Spaghetti; Ak-Mak 100 percent Whole Wheat Crackers, and Shredded Wheat, Wheaties, Wheatina, Weetabix, and Wheat Chex cereals.


?Q: Are all brown breads whole grain? A: Not necessarily. Read the ingredient label to be sure. If the bread wrapper specifically says "whole wheat," it is 100 percent whole wheat. Some brown breads are part whole wheat and part enriched flour with caramel coloring added. They are all nutritious, but some will have more dietary fiber than others.


WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 1/4 cup (dry) contains:
calories protein fat carbohydrates fiber sodium
130 5 g 0.5 g 25 g 5 g 0 mg

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR: High-gluten, hard whole wheat flour contains the nutritious germ and bran as well as the endosperm contained in the entire wheat kernel.It is sometimes referred to as Wholemeal Flour. In addition to fiber, whole-grain baked goods are better sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, and many minerals than are those made with white flour. Whole grains are also a good source of folate and selenium, two nutritional buzzwords. Be sure your whole wheat flour is fresh. Whole wheat flour can go rancid faster than white flour, and that has a seriously negative effect on the flavor.
Keep your whole wheat flour (not white flour) tightly wrapped in the freezer. No need to thaw when using.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: If you don't have whole wheat flour and the recipe calls for it, use all-purpose flour, and if you have, blend in unprocessed bran flakes. Sometimes when you substitute with 100% all-purpose flour, the texture and taste aren't the same.
Here's what I do: I take out up to 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour flour and dry blend in the same amount of raw bran flakes (wheat germ does not work well). This way I end up with a "whole wheat" flour. And besides, raw bran has 24 grams of fiber per cup while whole wheat flour has 12 grams of fiber per cup.

Whole wheat flour may be substituted for part (50 %) of the white flour in yeast and quick bread recipes, but the recipe will be denser. Bran particles cut through the gluten during mixing and kneading of bread dough, resulting in a smaller, heavier loaf.
?Be sure your whole wheat flour is fresh. Whole wheat flour can go rancid faster than white flour, and that has a seriously negative effect on the flavor.
Keep your whole wheat flour (not white flour) tightly wrapped in the freezer. No need to thaw when using.

FYI: Selenium is also found in whole-grain breads at nearly twice the concentration contained in white breads. Selenium intake was linked with prostate cancer protection by a Harvard School of Public Health study. Because folate has been found to lower the risk of heart disease and birth defects, it is especially important for those at risk of heart disease and for women of child-bearing age to get the recommended daily dosage of 400 micrograms. A 35-gram slice of whole-grain wheat bread contains about 17.5 micrograms of folacin, whereas its white-bread counterpart only provides just over half this amount.
WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY FLOUR: Low-gluten flour milled from soft wheat with the bran included. It is sometimes labeled Whole Grain Pastry Flour. Do not confuse it with whole wheat flour. I sometimes use it instead of all-purpose flour when creating healthy baking recipes. In the absence of fat, it gives a more tender outcome. Keep tightly wrapped in the freezer. No need to thaw before using.
I have used White Whole Wheat from King Arthur Flour now for some time and I really like it. My whole wheat bread turns out really delicious -- it has a lot of flavor, but not the heavy-ness of the "usual" whole wheat flour. I replace my whole wheat flour 1 for 1 with whole wheat white.

WHOLE WHEAT WHITE FLOUR: Whole White Wheat flour is milled the same as the typical Whole Wheat flour, and is growing in popularity. The difference is the bran coating on the wheat; it is classified as white compared to the typical red wheat grown in the United States. Functionally, both flours should perform the same. The key difference is the red pigmentation in the red wheat has been removed which gives it a lighter, whiter color. With the red pigmentation removed, a less bitter taste is also apparent.
WONDRA: is a brand name for Instantized Flour. Wondra flour comes in a small blue canister available from the grocery store. It is pre-sifted, and specially prepared to dissolve smoothly into gravies, sauces, etc. It makes life a lot easier when compared to using regular flour.
NON-WHEAT FLOUR & GRAINS: So-called trendy grains or non-wheat varieties, such as quinoa and amaranth, aren't new at all--they have been around since ancient times. High in protein, a good source of fiber, low in calories and with just 1-2 grams of fat per serving, they offer a "nutty" change.








Some commercially processed flours contain toxic chemicals that are used to whiten and oxidize them. I have found that these chemicals significantly affect the outcome of certain recipes and prefer to use a pure flour that does not contain any unnecessary additives. For this reason, I always use King Arthur flours or flour that is called: "unbleached and unbromated" from the grocery store. (Bromates are not listed in most states).
Bleached vs unbleached: one main difference between unbleached and bleached flour is the color; one is off-white and the other is pure white. Technically speaking, the carotenoid (yellow) pigments in the flour are oxidized to produce white flour. Flours treated with these bleaching agents must be labeled as bleached. If a recipe doesn't specify, you can use either one, but where a whiter color is desired, use the bleached one. For those looking for untreated flour, note that unbleached flour can still contain maturing agents and chemical dough improvers (listed on the label).
Potassium bromate, a potentially carcinogenic chemical, has been used extensively as both an oxidizer and a conditioner. (In California, any food containing potassium bromate must carry a warning label.) Common maturing agents include potassium bromate (used mainly in the midwest and the east) and ascorbic acid (used mainly in the west).
There are other permissible chemical additives used to whiten and oxidize flour: such as chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, and chlorine gas. Breads treated with these agents will generally exhibit increased loaf volume, finer grain and an improved look. People with especially sensitive palates can detect a bitter aftertaste from flours treated with these chemicals.
What else is added to flour?: A small amount of malted barley flour is usually added to all-purpose flour to increase the level of enzyme activity in the flour. Malted barley flour is made from sprouted barley that is dried and ground. This sprouting stimulates the production of enzymes that break starch into sugars, on which the yeast feeds.
What is enriched flour?: in the 1940s, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that every all-purpose flour be "enriched," so small amounts of iron, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin are added. In the future, folic acid, a member of the vitamin B complex, will be added to this list.