April 10, 2018 · Written by Foodtolive Team

The ultimate guide to flour types and uses

Have you ever wonder what are flours made of whenever you’re baking? How does it make our cakes and breads fluffy, spongy and Instagram ready? There is a lot to learn when it comes to different types of flour and its uses as there are many types of cakes and bread that we eat every day. It’s important that we understand and familiarize ourselves with these not only that it can make a big difference in our baking success but also to know what’s healthy for us.


1. The common denominator for all types of flour has something to do with its protein content. There are hard wheat that contains 10 -14% high protein and soft wheat which contains 5%-10% of low protein. These proteins in flours have an important role in achieving the desirable texture, chewiness, volume and elasticity in your baked products. To simplify, the more protein in the flour the more gluten it has that gives more strength and volume. Gluten is a term for a specific protein found in wheat that when combined with water it takes shapes, form bonds and creates an elastic structure.

All-purpose flour

2. All-purpose flour – The most versatile and stable of all flours because it has longer shelf life and capable of creating a flaky pie, fluffy cakes and chewy breads. It has 10-12% protein and milled from both soft and hard wheat. It can be bleached or unbleached.

Cake Flour

3. Cake Flour – With only 5-8% protein content, this type of flour has lesser gluten ideal for cakes, muffins and scones that makes them softer, tender, spongy and airy in texture. It passed a bleaching process that weakens the gluten further and alters flour’s starch that enables it to absorb more liquid and sugar to guarantee a moist cake. You can substitute it to ½ cup all-purpose flour mixed with ½ cup cake flour.

Pastry flour

4. Pastry flour – This type of flour has protein level that is a combination of all-purpose and cake flour between 8-9%. It is from a soft wheat variety that has fine texture best used in pies, tart, biscuits, and cookies but it is not ideal for bread.

Self-rising flour

5. Self-rising flour – It has a built-in leavening agent to which the baking soda and salt is added during the milling process. It has a lower protein content that is ideal for muffins, biscuits and other cakes. There’s no substitute for this kind of flour.

Bread flour

6. Bread flour – This type of flour is the strongest in developing gluten structure with 12-14% high protein levels. It is excellent in creating volume, chewier crumbs and browning crust used in artisan bread and yeasted bread. Unbleached all-purpose flour can be substituted for bread flour by 100%.

Whole wheat flour

7. Whole wheat flour – It is made of endosperm, fiber-rich bran, and germ that has a higher protein content but its gluten-producing ability is compromised by bran and germ producing baked products that are denser and heavier. It can be used in cookies, bread, pancakes and pasta. Just allow to rest the batter for 20-30 minutes for the liquid to permeate in the bran and germ to soften it and gives a finer texture. It can be substituted for all-purpose flour by 75%.

Gluten-free flour

8. Gluten-free flour – This kind of flour has becoming more popular for health reasons such as dietary restrictions, allergies, and Celiac disease. It is blended from all sort of grain and nuts to mimic the texture of the whole wheat flour. The widely available are based from rice flour that is blended with potato starch and tapioca. Xanthan gum is added to encourage chewiness. It is used for breads, cookies, cakes, waffles, and muffins that does not require any gluten at all.

There you have it our ultimate guide to flour types and uses. We hope that this will help you in your choice of flour to use for your next baking journey.