Wheat flour is a powder made from the grinding of wheat used for human
Wheat varieties are called "soft" or "weak" if gluten
content is low, and are called "hard" or "strong" if they have high
gluten content. Hard flour, or bread flour, is high in gluten, with
12% to 14% gluten content, and its dough has elastic toughness that
holds its shape well once baked. Soft flour is comparatively low in
gluten and thus results in a loaf with a finer, crumbly texture.
Soft flour is usually divided into cake flour, which is the lowest in
gluten, and pastry flour, which has slightly more gluten than cake
In terms of the parts of the grain (the grass fruit) used in
flour—the endosperm or protein/starchy part, the germ or
protein/fat/vitamin-rich part, and the bran or fiber part—there are
three general types of flour.
White flour is made from the endosperm
only. Brown flour includes some of the grain's germ and bran, while
whole grain or wholemeal flour is made from the entire grain,
including the bran, endosperm, and germ. Germ flour is made from the
endosperm and germ, excluding the bran.
2.3 Indian wheat flours
2.4 Southeast Asia
2.5 United States
Flour strength – W index
Flour in the United Kingdom
6 See also
To produce refined (white) wheat flour, grain is usually tempered,
i.e. moisture added to the grain, before milling, to optimize milling
efficiency. This softens the starchy "endosperm" portion of the wheat
kernel, which will be separated out in the milling process to produce
what is known to consumers as white flour. The addition of moisture
also stiffens the bran and ultimately reduces the energy input
required to shatter the kernel, while at the same time avoiding the
shattering of bran and germ particles to be separated out in this
milling process by sieving or sifting.
The endosperm portion of the kernel makes up about 80% of the volume
and is desirable because the products produced by this white flour are
often considered to have milder flavor, smoother texture, and, in the
case of bread, greater volume. The balance of the kernel is composed
of the bran and the germ which tend to be coarser. With the invention
of the roller milling system in the late 19th century, the bran and
the germ were able to be removed, dramatically improving the appeal of
baked products to the public.
The moistened grain is first passed through the series of break
rollers, then sieved to separate out the fine particles that make up
white flour. The balance are intermediate particles of endosperm
(otherwise known as product middling or farina) and coarse particles
of bran and germ. The middling then makes multiple passes through the
reduction rolls, and is again sieved after each pass to maximize
extraction of white flour from the endosperm, while removing coarser
bran and germ particles.
To produce whole wheat flour, 100% of the bran and germ must be
reintroduced to the white flour that the roller milling system was
originally designed to separate it from. Therefore, these elements are
first ground on another mill (usually a pin mill). These finer bran
and germ fractions are then reintroduced to the endosperm (white
flour) to produce whole wheat flour made of 100% of the kernel of
Wheat flour is available in many varieties; the categorization is
regional, and the same name may have several different regional
Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour in Canada may have up to 5% or the grain removed;
most of the germ is often removed to prevent the flour from going
Whole grain flour contains the whole grain, including bran, germ, and
endosperm, but not the chaff
Sharp flour is produced in Fiji and primarily used in Indian cuisine.
Indian wheat flours
Indian flours are generally categorized by how much of the grain is
Wheat powder/flour – 'whole grain' (mixture of germ, endosperm and
Atta flour – mixture of endosperm and bran
Maida flour – endosperm, bleached; a very white flour, similar to
the American bleached flour
Sooji/rava – coarse-ground endosperm
Tang flour or wheat starch is a type of wheat flour used primarily in
Chinese cuisine for making the outer layer of dumplings and buns. It
is also used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called bột lọc
American flours are categorized by gluten/protein content, processing,
All-purpose or plain flour is a blended wheat with a protein content
lower than bread flour, ranging between 9% and 12%. Depending on brand
or the region where it is purchased, it may be composed of all hard or
soft wheats, but is usually a blend of the two, and can range from low
protein content to moderately high. It is marketed as an inexpensive
alternative to bakers' flour which is acceptable for most household
Bread flour or strong flour is always made from hard wheat, usually
hard spring wheat. It has a very high protein content, between 10% and
13%, making it excellent for yeast bread baking. It can be white or
whole wheat or in between.
Cake flour is a finely milled white flour made from soft wheat. It has
very low protein content, between 8% and 10%, making it suitable for
soft-textured cakes and cookies. The higher protein content of other
flours would make the cakes tough. American cake flour is bleached; in
countries where bleached flour is prohibited, plain flour can be
treated in a domestic microwave to improve the texture of the end
product. Related to cake flour are masa harina (from maize), maida
flour (from wheat or tapioca), and pure starches.
Durum flour is made from
Durum wheat and is suited for pasta making,
traditional pizza and flatbread for doner kebab.
Graham flour is a special type of whole wheat flour. The endosperm is
finely ground, as in white flour, while the bran and germ are coarsely
Graham flour is uncommon outside of the United States (but see
atta flour, a similar product, below).
Graham flour is the basis of
true graham crackers.
Instant flour is pregelatinized (precooked) for easier incorporation
in gravies and sauces.
Pastry flour or cookie flour or cracker flour has slightly higher
protein content than cake flour but lower than all-purpose flour. Its
protein content ranges between 9% and 10%. It is available as a white
flour, a whole-wheat flour, or a white flour with the germ retained
but not the bran. It is suitable for pie pastry and tarts, some
cookies, muffins, biscuits and other quick breads.
Flour is shaken
through a sieve to reduce the amount of lumps for cooking pastry.
Whole-wheat flour contains the wheat germ, endosperm and bran
White flour or refined flour contains only the endosperm
Enriched flour is white flour with nutrients added to compensate for
the removal of the bran and germ
Bleached flour is a white flour treated with flour bleaching agents to
whiten it (freshly milled flour is yellowish) and give it more
gluten-producing potential. Oxidizing agents are usually employed,
most commonly organic peroxides like acetone peroxide or benzoyl
peroxide, nitrogen dioxide, or chlorine. A similar effect can be
achieved by letting the flour oxidize with oxygen in the air ("natural
aging") for approximately 10 days; however, this process is more
expensive due to the time required.
Flour bleached with benzoyl
peroxide has been prohibited in the UK since 1997.
Bromated flour has a maturing agent added. The agent's role is to help
with developing gluten, a role similar to the flour bleaching agents.
Bromate is usually used. Other choices are phosphates, ascorbic acid,
and malted barley. Bromated flour has been banned in much of the
world, as bromate is classified as possibly carcinogenic in humans
(Group 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC), but remains available in the United States.
Self-rising or self-raising flour is white flour that is sold premixed
with chemical leavening agents. It was invented by Henry
Jones. Self-rising flour is typically composed of the
1 cup (100 g) flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (3 g) baking powder
a pinch to 1⁄2 teaspoon (1 g or less) salt
Spelt flour is flour produced from the type of wheat called spelt. It
is less commonly used in modern cooking than other wheat varieties. It
is still used for specialty baking.
Flour strength – W index
A device called Alveograph Chopin invented in 1921 by Marcel Chopin,
provides an index called W that is now commonly used by professional
bakers. W index measures the flour strength. The maximum of the curve,
identified by P, represents the toughness of gluten, while L
represents the extensibility, the higher the value of L the more
elastic the dough will be.
Flours between 90 and 160 W are called "weak flours". They have a low
protein content, usually 9%, used to produce biscuits or cakes.
Flours between 160 and 250 W have a medium force. They are used, for
example, for Pugliese bread, pizza and focaccia.
Flours > 300 W Flours with a high W are called "strong flours"
because they have a great resistance to the deformation of gluten.
In general, the longer rising time a bread product requires, the more
a flour will need a high W, because it better retains the carbon
dioxide produced in the fermentation.
Flour in the United Kingdom
During World War II, the British government promoted "National Flour";
it was adopted in 1942 both for health reasons and those concerned
about the import of wheat into the UK and losses during the war.
The flour is described as being of 85% extraction, i.e. containing
more of the whole wheat grain than refined flour, generally described
as 70% extraction at the time. Parliamentary questions on the exact
constitution of National
Flour in 1943 reveal that it was "milled from
a grist consisting of 90 per cent. wheat and 10 per cent. diluent
grains. Authorised additions are calcium at the rate of 7 oz
(200 g) per 280 lb (130 kg) of flour and dried milk at
the rate of 2 lb (910 g) per 280 lb (130 kg) of
flour and customary improvers in normal proportions." The diluent
grains were barley, oats and rye and customary improvers were "certain
oxidising agents which improve the quality of the bread baked from the
flour, and their nature depends on the kind of grain used, whether
hard or soft.". A survey of the composition of National
conducted for the period 1946–1950 National
discontinued in 1956 against the recommendations of the MRC as the
government considered that the addition of nutritional supplements to
refined flour removed the necessity for using National
Flour on health
Flour was also a term for a flour introduced in Kenya by the
colonial government which contained 70% wheat flour and 30% maize
^ a b c d e Chu, Michael (2004-10-20). "
Wheat Flour". Cooking for
Engineers. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
^ Bass, E.J. (1988). Y. Pomeranz, ed.
Wheat Chemistry and Technology
Vol. II Chapter 1:
Wheat flour milling. American Association of Cereal
Chemists. pp. 1–69. ISBN 0-913250-73-2.
^ "Kate Flour". A Merrier World. 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Is flour still bleached?". Flour
Advisory Board. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
^ IARC--Summaries & Evaluations: Potassium
Bromate (Group 2B),
International Agency for Research on Cancer
^ more information on "Flours for
Pizza and Focaccia, the flour
^ a b Leading article "The End of National Flour", BMJ 1956;1:1347.
Available online at http://www.bmj.com/content/1/4979/1347
^ HANSARD 1803–2005,27 October 1943, Commons Sitting → FOOD
SUPPLIES. Available online at
^ J. R. Fraser, National flour survey 1946–1950, Journal of the
Science of Food and Agriculture Volume 2, Issue 5, pages 193–198,
May 1951. Available online at
^ Madatally Manji, "Memoirs of a biscuit baron", East African
Publishers, 1995. 174 pages. See pages 49-51. Accessible through
Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=_D_dZZHkWGcC
Wheat pools in Canada
Plant parts and their uses
Berries or groats
As an ingredient
Wheat germ oil
Associated human diseases
non-celiac gluten sensitivity
Tell Abu Hureyra