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Baking 101: Flour Power

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on July 11, 2016

Plain flour, whole wheat flour, coconut flour…sometimes it feels like there’s a different flour for every day of the week! But what’s the real difference between them all? We take a look at the wide world of flours, and don’t worry if you’re gluten-free – we’ve got you covered!

Whole Wheat Flour is one of the least processed flours on the market. This is because it’s made with the whole grain, which also gives a distinctive flavour and colour. Ultimately whole-wheat flour is it is the most nutritious of all of the flours because it contains the whole grain and the healthy vitamins and minerals that wheat contains.

Bread Flour is a flour with a high protein content, that creates a strong structure that traps air and creates the distinctive holes you see in bread. If bread flour was used in other baked goods it would make a tough product or even gummy texture, where as with bread it creates a pleasant soft texture.

Cake Flour uses the softest part of the grain, which makes it a very fine particle size and has the lowest protein content at only 6-8%. Due to the low protein content in the flour it doesn’t form a strong structure and creates a light texture with a fine crumb, which is ideal for cakes.

All-Purpose Flour or Plain Flour is the most widely used flour, which is perfect for a variety of baked goods, such as cookies, cupcakes, and muffins. You can usually substitute plain flour for bread or cake flour if you need to!

The Gluten Free Guide

Tip: If you have a gluten allergy or intolerance make sure that the following flours are certified gluten free, as well as your baking powder, and oats.

Nut Flours: The most popular of all gluten free flours are nut flours, which are made from ground nuts. These have a higher fat content and are lower in carbohydrates than regular flour. Almond and Hazelnut are the most common nut flours out there. They create a nice cake like texture in baked goods, which you don’t get with other flours. It is also one of the few gluten free flours you can use without the addition of other gluten free flours in baked goods.

Coconut Flour: is made from the coconut meat, with the fat removed. It is actually high in fiber and fairly low in carbohydrates. It has a slight coconut flavour, which makes it great in baked goods because it adds an extra hint of coconut! It is normally used with other gluten free flours to help create the perfect flour, since it can only replace a small portion of wheat flour.

Buckwheat Flour: Don’t be fooled by the name! This product isn’t made from wheat and is actually a whole grain product that is full of nutrients. It also has a unique flavor that is described as hearty and can be fairly strong. Often you’ll see it used in pancake recipes where this flavour can really shine.

Oat Flour: is a common flour used in gluten free recipes because it’s cheaper than nut flours and adds an additional nutty flavour. It’s also quite dense, so it is often combined with nut flours to make the perfect combination flour. Make sure you buy certified gluten free oat flour, because a lot of oats are processed on the same equipment as wheat flours.

Gluten Free Flour: This flour is made to substitute plain flour one for one because it contains a mixture of gluten free flour with a leavening ingredient and a structure-building ingredient, which varies between brands. This combination allows it to function exactly like plain flour and create the same texture in baked goods. If a recipe calls for plain flour go ahead and replace it with gluten free flour!

Here are some honorable mentions that are also gluten free: Corn flour, Rice Flour, Soy Flour, Flaxseed Flour, Amaranth Flour

Each gluten free flour has a unique structure, which changes the texture of the baked goods and adds additional flavors. It takes a bit of experimenting to get a recipe just right but when it is perfected it turns a classic baked good into an outstanding one you never knew you couldn’t live without! As gluten free flour becomes more popular, amazing bakers have shared their favorite recipes and one of my favourites is this blogger submitted recipe that is not only gluten free but also contains Natvia!

Nora @ A Clean Bake: Gluten Free Brookies – Brownie Cookie Bars

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