Ground to extreme fineness, this flour is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian pastas. The fineness of the grind makes 00 dough easy to roll to extreme thinness (necessary for pasta).
Best for: Pasta, very thin crusts.
Don’t use for: The grind is too fine for successful bread.
White flour milled from hard wheat or a blend of hard and soft wheat. It gives the best results for a variety of products, including some yeast breads, quick breads, cakes, cookies, pastries and noodles. All-purpose flour is usually enriched and may be bleached or unbleached. Bleaching will not affect nutrient value. Different brands will vary in performance. Protein content varies from 8-11 percent
Barley flour has a natural maltiness in flavor, and is low in gluten. Speck recommends letting doughs and batters made with barley flour (and, actually, all whole grain flours) sit overnight. The rest period will soften the bran, make the product easier to work with, and round out the flavors.
Best for: Barley’s malty-sweet flavor makes it ideal for sweet baked goods and cookies.
Do Not Use For: As with other alterna-flours, 100% barley flour does not make for an ideal bread.
With a high protein content, bread flour is made from hard wheat and contains a greater amount of gluten than AP, which is made from softer wheat varieties. When worked by hand-kneading or processing with a dough hook in a stand mixer, the gluten is developed and contributes to a chewier consistency, which is desirable in artisan breads. It brings excellent structure to dough’s, making it the “underwire bra of the baking world,” says Reid. Bois prefers to use it just for extra-chewy baked goods, like pretzels and bagels, due to its dense and heavy texture
Similar in protein level to pastry flour (about 8-9%), cake flour is milled to an ultra-fine consistency. It is also traditionally bleached. Bleaching slightly damages the flour’s starches, allowing them to absorb more liquid and rise higher—an ideal quality in lofty cakes.
Best for: Tender cakes, like sponges.
Don’t use for: Cake flour does not produce a good bread product
Usually milled from spring wheat and has a high protein (40-45 percent), low-starch content. It is used primarily for diabetic breads, or mixed with other non-wheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure. Gluten flour improves baking quality and produces high-protein gluten bread.
Made simply from pulverized nuts, these are easy to DIY with a food processor. They can be very powdery, and, of course, contain no gluten. Most common is almond flour, also known as “almond meal.”
Best for: Combining with gluten-containing flours and/or wet ingredients—think cookies and tarts.
Don’t use for: Breads.
With a fine texture and lower protein content thanks to soft wheat varieties, pastry flour is the go-to for sweets for many serious bakers. Many commercially-available pastry flours are bleached, although both some millers, like King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill, offer unbleached pastry flour.
Best for: Pie crusts, breadsticks, pound cakes, muffins.
Don’t use for: The lower amount of gluten means that this flour produces bread with less structural integrity
This is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat. Durum wheat is the hardest variety of the six classes of wheat and has the highest protein content of all wheat. Because of this, it’s ideal for making high-quality pasta and is used by both American and Italian manufacturers. It’s also used to make couscous in Africa and Latin America, as well as in the U.S. Durum wheat is rarely used to make bread
Although spelt is technically a form of wheat, it is often considered in the “alternative” flour guide. It’s an ancient grain, and many with sensitivity to conventional wheat products find they’re able to easier digest spelt. It has a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and is relatively easy to work with.
Best for: Breads, pizza crusts, cookies
Don’t use for: No major restrictions.
Is the inner part (known as the heart) of the wheat kernel. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals and is often added to a variety of baked goods to improve their nutritional value. Because it contains oil, it is the component of whole wheat flour that makes it more susceptible to rancidity
This flour is milled from the entire kernel of wheat. The presence of bran reduces gluten development, therefore, items baked with whole wheat flour tend to be heavier and more dense than those made from enriched flour. Bakers often add additional gluten to counteract this. (one tablespoon/cup of whole wheat flour used