Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wheat Flour: The Different Types and Their Purposes

Wheat kernels or wheat berries can be processed in a variety of ways to yield different kinds of wheat flour. Each variety of wheat flour has distinct characteristics when cooked and is thus suitable for a particular kind of bakery product. Here is a short list of the common wheat flour varieties we see in grocery stores.

All-purpose Flour

In the course of the flour milling process, wheat kernels or wheat berries are broken down into their three components-the bran, the endosperm and the germ. The outermost shell, or bran, is removed and so is the germ. What remains is the endosperm which is then finely ground into all-purpose ground wheat.

All-purpose is made from either hard wheat or a combination of hard and soft wheat. Hard wheat has higher levels of protein than soft wheat. In general, hard wheat is used in making bread because of their sweeter flavor and tougher texture. Soft wheat, on the other hand, is used mostly in making cakes, pastries and other bakery products which call for a delicate and soft texture.

All-purpose is further subdivided into three categories-enriched, bleached and unbleached. The enriched all-purpose type is flour that has been fortified with some nutrients in order to better resemble the nutritional profile of whole wheat. Bleached all-purpose, as the name implies, is bleached with chlorine to whiten the color of the powdered wheat. Unbleached is not chemically bleached but is naturally bleached when exposed to oxygen during aging.

Bread Flour

This is the finely ground endosperm of a hard wheat variety, hard red wheat kernel. It is manufactured especially for commercial bread makers. Because of its inherent high gluten content, it is suitable for making yeast breads. It is sold bleached or unbleached and is usually enriched with vitamins and minerals.

Self-rising Flour

This is a specific kind of all-purpose ground wheat with added salt and baking powder as leavening. Every cup of self-rising ground wheat has 1

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