I thought flour was flour until I went to the store today to buy some more. There was All-Purpose Flour, Bleached and Unbleached, Self-Rising, Bread Flour, Wheat Flour, name-brand vs store brand. I was lost! I never realized how many types of flour there were. And for the life of me, I just could not remember the type of flour I had at home, which I was supposed to be buying a replacement for.
Just a week ago, I started back baking bread for my family as opposed to buying the grocery store bread. Well, my family loves it and I can’t seem to bake the bread fast enough, which is why I just spent 20 minutes in the baking isle cluelessly looking through all the varieties of flour.
For the time being, I just grabbed one of the bags of flour and decided to do some research when I got home, especially is I was planning to do more baking. I figured that I should at least know what ingredients to use.
Well, I went on over to foodterms.com and I found out more than I bargained for and I never knew there was so much to learn about flour! Here’s what I found:
- Steel Ground vs Stone Ground flour-Most grocery stores sell Steel Ground flour which void of valuable vitamins and enzymes because the heat that is produced during the steel grinding strips the nutrients. Stone Ground flour is ground between stones and is a much slower process, which is probably why it is more expensive and cannot be found everywhere, and the nutrients are kept in the flour because there isn’t any excessive heat to deplete them. When I think of Stone Ground flour, I think of good ol’ old fashioned pre-machine error woman sitting around grinding wheat between two rocks so that she can bake some bread for the next meal (or maybe I just watch too many movies).
- All-Purpose Flour– This is a blend of wheats that does not contain the wheat bran nor the wheat germ. Maybe you were like me and never knew much about either of those items but the germ and the bran contain almost all of the nutrients! The only thing left is the endosperm which is protien and carbs. The germ contians B vitamins, minerals, heart healthy oils, antioxidants and phytonutrients. The bran contains fiber, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium.So, here in the U.S., if the flour does not contain the germ, the flour must be “enriched” with niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and iron.
- Bleached vs Unbleached– Interesting fact here: ALL flour is bleached! If the flour says “bleached”, then it was chemically bleached, if it is “unbleached”, then it was bleached naturally through the aging process. The bleached flour is lighter and fluffier while the unbleached flour is a little more dense and has an off-white color.
- Bread flour-This flour is specifically made for yeast breads. It has a very high amount of gluten and vitamin C (which helps the elasticity of the gluten) and is unbleached, or naturally bleached.
- Cake or Pastry flour-This flour is fine and soft and high in starch. This is partifculary good for cakes and pastries (as its name applies).
- Whole-Wheat flour-This flour does containt he wheat germ, which in turn contains more nutrients. I knew there was a reason that I liked buying wheat bread. But make sure your wheat bread has whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient! This flour should be kept refrigerated.
After learning all of this, I think I should have picked up Bread and Whole-Wheat flour and did a mixture of both of these. I hope you learned as much as I did and go on over to my recent post to check out my families favorite home-made bread.