Flour power! March is National Flour Month.
These days, flour isn't just made from wheat or other cereal grains, it can be made from seeds, nuts and roots too. For people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, almond, sorghum, millet, potato and even rice flour are worthy substitutes - but it does take a bit more tinkering to find the perfect texture.
There are quite a few types of wheat flour, and the slight differences in each variation can be confusing. Here are a few clarifications to help you on your next baking endeavor.
Bleached vs. unbleached all-purpose: The difference is as simple as it sounds; one has a bleaching agent to make it white, the other does not. Both are made using a blend of hard and soft wheat.
Whole wheat: Regular flour is made by grinding up the endosperm of a wheat grain. Whole wheat flour is made by grinding up the whole grain - endosperm, bran, germ and all. This flour is less refined and contains more fiber. Baked goods made with whole wheat flour tend to be denser and chewier.
Self-rising: Self-rising flour contains a chemical leavening agent, usually baking powder. It's commonly used for leavened products like quick breads and biscuits.
Cake: Cake flour is made using soft winter wheat. This flour has a lower protein content, which makes a lighter, fluffier cake.
Semolina: This flour is made from a coarse grind of durum wheat. It's high in gluten and protein making it suitable for pastas, pizza crust and porridge. Semolina flour is actually made from a by-product of the wheat milling industry.
Bread flour: This type of flour is high in gluten, which helps give elasticity and texture to baked goods like breads, rolls and pizzas.
Most importantly, remember to store your flour in an airtight container in a cool place.