Working with different types of flour

Up until very recently I had no idea there was a specific type of flour for bread.  I knew there were other types of flour beyond your standard all-purpose flour but I never really had a need or use for them.  My sister (not the one that talked me into buying needlessly large storage containers) a year or so ago had brought me some flour she liked using for making pizza dough from King Arthur Flour.  I had good results with it when making pizza dough but was unable to find a place to buy it close by.  Today, I found that Target now sells it.  Yeah!

So now that I have all this flour I need to sort out why I’d use one over the other.  But before I get there I needed to learn more about where flour comes from.  Here are some bullet points about what I found…

  • Flour comes from wheat, specifically the wheat berry part of the wheat plant.
  • The wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel with the exception of the hull
  • The wheat berry has 3 components
    • Bran – The hard outer layer of the wheat berry.  A good source of fiber but provides very little protein.
    • Endosperm – Makes up the majority of the inside of the wheat berry.  This is where the bulk of the protein fond in the wheat berry lives.
    • Germ – The reproductive part of the berry which would germinate into a new plant if allowed to.  The germ includes limited amounts of protein and some other vitamins but is not commonly used in flour production since it can limit the shelf life of the flour due to its high fat content.
  • Protein is a big deal when talking about flour.  It’s one of the reason you use one versus the other.

Ok – so how are these 3 flours I have different?

  • All-Purpose flour
    • Made from milling just the endosperm component of the wheat berry
    • Usually made from a mix of hard and soft wheats giving it a ‘middle of the road’ or ‘good for anything’ type of usability
  • White Whole Wheat flour
    • Made by milling all 3 components of the wheat berry
    • Just like Whole wheat flour – the only difference is what type of wheat is used.  White whole wheat flour  uses white wheat and whole wheat flour uses red wheat.
    • Can be substituted for whole wheat flour and sometimes for white flour (all-purpose of bread)
    • A lighter version of whole wheat flour
  • Bread Flour
    • Made from milling just the endosperm component of the wheat berry
    • What differentiates bread flour from all-purpose flour is the type of wheat used.  A wheat yielding a higher protein is used in bread flour.
    • More protein means more gluten in the dough which helps with the rising of the bread

Ok – I learned some new stuff there – but I’ll need to experiment to see if I notice a difference I think.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *