Home > Cupboard Ingredients > What You Need to Know About Flour

What You Need to Know About Flour

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 25 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
What You Need To Know About Flour

Flour comes in two basic categories – wheat-based and non-wheat based, and within those two categories there is a sometimes bewildering range of options. Here’s a handy guide to help you decide which flour to use.

Wheat Flours

There are three basic types of flour produced from wheat:

  • White flour is a substance from which most of the bran and the wheatgerm have been removed
  • Brown flour has had some of the bran and germ removed but has more than white flour
  • Wholemeal flour may also be labelled wholewheat or wholegrain and it is made from the complete wheat kernel which means it is higher in fibre and has a better nutrient content than white or brown flours. However, it doesn’t have as much gluten because of the bran, which means that it is often mixed with other flours to give it more elasticity when cooking.
  • These flours then come in a variety of formulas used in different kinds of cooking:

  • Plain flour is good for most forms of cooking but may need to be mixed with ‘soft’ flour for cakes. It is great for biscuits and sauces though.
  • Self-raising flour always contains a raising agent, usually baking powder – it’s used for cakes, scones and sweet puddings.
  • Strong flour is used for breads, Yorkshire pudding and making puff and choux pastries.
  • Malted wheatgrain or wheatgerm flour is either brown or wholemeal flour with additional malted grains that give a nutty flavour and texture to the final product. It is usually used for breadmaking.
  • Stoneground flour is simply wholemeal flour ground between two stones in a traditional milling fashion.

Non-Wheat Flours

Flours which are not derived from wheat may or may not contain gluten. Gluten allergies are becoming more commonplace and using non-wheat flours allows the gluten intolerant to enjoy baked goods. Some flours also work better for specific dishes than wheat.

  • Corn meal is a coarsely ground corn flour that is used for making corn bread and tortillas, when finely ground it is called cornflour and used to make sauces.
  • Chestnut flour is sweet and has a beige or grey colour – it’s used for making sweet dishes and may be mixed with wheat flour.
  • Buckwheat flour has a nutty flavour and is speckled with black fragments – it’s ideal for those who have gluten allergies but may often be mixed with other flours to reduce its bitter aftertaste.
  • Rice flour is also gluten-free and is a frequent ingredient in Southern Indian and South Asian cuisine.

Storing Flour

White flour can be kept in a cupboard or pantry for up to eight months in a sealed container.

Wholemeal flour keeps for only four months in a cupboard, not matter how tightly sealed, and for up to a year in a freezer if in a tightly-sealed plastic container. This is because the wheatgerm has a high oil content and it may become rancid if kept in a cupboard where temperatures are not low enough to stabilise the oils.

If you store flour near granular detergents, onions or other strongly-scented items it may pick up a taint. On the other hand, you can put a dried bay leaf in the box with the flour to prevent infections because bay leaves are highly insect repellent - the flour will not be scented by a dried leaf although it may by a fresh one.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Hollie Shager
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Very helpful, it has a very simple and conveniently brief summary of a wide range of pastries in the world. It would have been even more helpful if…
    5 July 2017
  • Simon57
    Re: Types of Pastry
    worth reading i can adapt these to suit a vegetarian diet
    5 July 2017
  • Annie
    Re: Types of Pastry
    This website was very helpful <3
    8 June 2017
  • Mirza
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Provide interview questions in this topic for preparing job interview for best impression..
    1 May 2017
  • Horrible Speller
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Wow, this had been so helpful with my cooking assindgmenys for school. :-) Thankyou so much for posting that, Inhave also learnt alot more about…
    1 May 2017
  • Davinci
    Re: Utensils and Their Uses
    Thanks for ur lessons. You've saved the day
    3 January 2017
  • LearnCooking
    Re: Home Made Cakes
    Ang - Your Question:Why does my pastry taste bitter?Our Response:While you may not notice it whe
    18 October 2016
  • Ang
    Re: Home Made Cakes
    Why does my pastry taste bitter?
    18 October 2016
  • bradders
    Re: Roux-Based Sauces: What, How and When
    really useful website for any food tech detention
    5 May 2016
  • LearnCooking
    Re: Types of Pastry
    Learn How to spell - Your Question:People on this page really need to learn to spell, I'm looking at the comments and most of them have more than…
    22 April 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LearnCooking website. Please read our Disclaimer.