One of the most common questions we get at Sprout The Grocer is what flour should be used when? We have decided to break it down below with a few tips thrown into the mix.
The primary difference between each type of flour is the protein content. Flour made from high-protein wheat varieties (which have 10 to 14 percent protein content) is called “hard wheat.” Flour made from low-protein wheat varieties (which have 5 to 10 percent protein content) is called “soft wheat.”
More protein means more gluten, and more gluten means more strength. When it comes to baking, the amount of gluten is what determines the structure and texture of a baked good.
Our wheat flours;
All-purpose or Standard flour should be a staple in your kitchen. Milled from a mixture of soft and hard wheat varieties, it has a moderate protein content. As the most versatile flour, it’s capable of creating flaky pie crusts, chewy cookies, and fluffy pancakes. If a recipe calls for “flour,” it most likely means all-purpose flour. This is our absolute go to flour at Sprout The Grocer.
Milled entirely from hard wheat, high grade flour is the strongest of all flours with a high protein content. This comes in handy when baking yeasted breads because of the strong gluten content required to make the bread rise properly. Bread flour makes for a better volume and a chewier crumb with your bakes.
Best Used For: Artisan breads, yeast breads, bagels, pretzels, and pizza dough
The secret ingredients of self-rising flour are the baking powder and salt added during the milling process. You can make your own at home by mixing 1 cup standard flour with 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Be careful not to substitute self-rising flour for other flours while baking! The added ingredients can throw off the rest of the measurements in your recipe.
During the milling process, a kernel of wheat is separated into its three components: the endosperm, the germ, and the bran. To make white flour, just the endosperm is milled. To make whole wheat flour, varying amounts of the germ and bran are added back in to the flour. This is why you get more nutrients from wholemeal flour vs standard. Whole wheat flour tends to have a high protein content, but the presence of the germ and bran affect the flour’s gluten-forming ability. Because of this, whole wheat flour usually leads to super sticky dough and denser baked goods.
Often referred to as Italian-style flour, 00 flour is made from the hardest type of wheat with a high protein content. The “00” refers to the super fine texture of the flour making it easy to roll out to extreme thinness without breaking, which is perfect for pasta and crackers.
Best Used For: Pasta, thin crust pizza dough, flatbreads, and crackers. Do not use for bread as the flour is too fine!
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. Compared to wheat flour, spelt flour is richer in many nutrients, such as protein and minerals. It has a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and is relatively easy to work with. You can generally swap spelt flour for standard flour 1:1 in recipes.
Best for: Breads, pizza crusts, cookies
We have white spelt, organic white spelt and organic wholemeal spelt available in store.
Rye flour is the powder milled from whole rye berries or grains from rye grass. Rye flour contains gluten, but not a lot, so it must be used in conjunction with other glutinous flours for baking. This is why rye breads are so heavy and dense. The more wheat flour that's used, the lighter the bread loaf will be. We suggest starting off with 25% rye to 75% standard flour when making bread. That's all you need for the flavour of the rye to really come through and for the dough to behave the way it's supposed to.
Rye flour is also great to add to your sourdough starter. Rye flour is teeming with extra nutrients that help kickstart the entire fermentation process and give your starter a boost. We mix 50% rye with 50% standard flour for starter feedings.
Best for: Breads baked with rye stay fresh longer, and are especially good when made with slightly fermented doughs.
Don't use for: A 100% rye bread can be challenging for beginning bakers. Start with 25% rye flour and 75% wheat.
We have rye and organic wholemeal rye available in store.
Almond flour is made by blanching almonds in boiling water to remove the skins, then grinding and sifting them into a fine flour. This gluten-free favourite is low in carbs and high in healthy fats and fiber. To replace wheat flour with almond flour, start by replacing the flours 1:1 and then add more of a rising agent (like baking powder or baking soda) to accommodate the heavier weight of the almond flour.
Naturally gluten-free, buckwheat flour is blue in hue and has a very nutty flavour. It absorbs lots of moisture, so adjust accordingly when baking—the batter may require extra liquid. We generally like to mix buckwheat flour with spelt or standard to create lighter baked goods.
Best for: It makes excellent pancakes, soba noodles (watch the video below – it is amazing), and traditional French crepes. dense cakes. It is used in traditional French crepes.
Rice flour has a granular, coarse texture and is gluten-free. Combine it with softer, finer oat flour for a more malleable dough.
Best for: Sponge cakes, noodles, fritters, and tempura batters.
Don't use for: Breads.
Similar to almond flour, coconut flour has a strong flavour. It is made from the dehydrated flesh of the coconut. Though lower in fat and higher in protein than almond flour, it still lacks gluten, so, again, you'll need to combine it with structure-providing ingredients.
Coconut flour, which is very dense on its own, works well to bind batters and can be cooked into grain-free pancakes or used alongside other gluten-free flours in baking. It can also be used like icing sugar and sprinkled on top of baked goods to add a sweet coconut finish. As one of the trickier flours to substitute into a recipe, we recommend using recipes which already call for this flour to be used. We have included some below;
This protein-packed (and gluten-free!) flour is a pantry staple all over the world. Chickpea flour is one of the most nutrient-packed gluten-free flours available. One of the constant struggles of gluten-free baking is texture. Without gluten, things don't bind together well, and GF bakers can be left scrambling for other ways to get consistent textures. But chickpea flour is a naturally dense flour, and because of that denseness, and its innate binding tendencies, it lends baked goods a sturdy yet tender texture when mixed with other gluten-free flours. We love to use it to coat vegetables for pakoras or to make socca. It is pale yellow and powdery and has an earthy flavour best suited to savoury dishes.
Here are some recipes we are wanting to try;
Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is a starchy white flour that has a slight sweet flavour to it. Tapioca flour is an alternative to traditional wheat flours and has a variety of uses in baking. The flour is made from the starch extracted from the South American cassava plant. When the roots have fully developed, they are harvested and processed to remove toxins. The starch is then extracted from the root by a repeated process of washing and pulping the mixture, then separating off the liquid. Tapioca flour helps bind gluten free recipes and improves the texture of baked goods. Tapioca helps add crispness to crusts and chew to baked goods. Tapioca flour is an extremely smooth flour, which makes for a great thickener in sauces, pies and soups since it never discolours and contains no discernible taste or smell. It can also be used to replace corn flour (use 2 Tbsp tapioca flour for each 1 Tbsp corn flour). Moreover, it never coagulates or separates when refrigerated or frozen. Use in combination with other gluten free flours for best results.
Cornflour, is the finely powdered white starch extracted from maize (i.e. corn) kernels, which are soaked and ground to separate the germ from the bran. It is virtually tasteless and is used as a thickening agent. It cuts down the need for fat as, unlike other flours, it blends to a smooth cream with liquid. It is naturally gluten free.
Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they’re packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The oat grain (Avena sativa) is harvested and processed to remove the inedible outer hull. What’s left is the oat groat, which is further processed to make oatmeal. Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat groat, which sits just beneath the inedible hull. While oat groats and steel-cut oats naturally contain bran, oat bran is also sold separately as its own product.
Oat bran is linked to many health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control, healthy bowel function, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Use in muffins, cookies or add to bread.
We also love to add Oat Bran to our lavosh crackers which you can find the recipe to here.