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Types of flour

Wheat flour

As it is the most popular type, much more wheat flour is produced than any other. Wheat varieties are called "hard", "clean," "white," or "brown" if they have high gluten content, and they are called "soft" or "weak" flour if gluten content is low. Hard flour, or bread flour, is high in gluten, with a certain toughness that holds its shape well once baked. Soft flour is comparatively low in gluten and so results in a finer 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 flour.

In terms of the parts of the grain (the fruit of the grass Caryopsis) used in flour (specifically, the endosperm or starchy part; the germ or protein part; and the bran or fibre part), there are three general types of flour:

White flour

White flour is made from the endosperm only.

Whole grain

Whole grain or wholemeal flour is made from the entire grain, including bran, endosperm, and germ.

Germ flour

Germ flour is made from the endosperm and germ, excluding the bran.

General purpose flour

General purpose flour (US), all purpose flour or plain flour is a blended wheat flour using combinations of the 3 types listed above to give it an intermediate gluten level. This is marketed as an acceptable compromise for most household baking needs.

Bleached flour

Bleached flour is treated with flour bleaching agents to whiten it (freshly milled flour is yellowish) and to improve & maximise its gluten-producing potential. Oxidising agents are usually employed, most commonly organic peroxides such as acetone peroxide or benzoyl peroxide, nitrogen dioxide, or chlorine. A similar effect can be achieved by letting the flour slowly oxidise with oxygen in the air ("natural ageing") for approximately 10 days; however, this process is more expensive due to the time required.

Bromated flour

Bromated flour is flour with a maturing agent added. The agent's role is to help with developing gluten, a role similar to the aforementioned flour bleaching agents. Potassium bromate (chemical formula KBrO3, E number E924), 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 now a suspected carcinogen - but it is still permitted in the United States.

Cake flour

Cake flour is a finely milled flour made from soft wheat. It has very low gluten content, making it suitable for soft-textured cakes and cookies/biscuits. The higher gluten content of other flours would make the cakes tough.

How to make cake flour

A reasonable substitute for cake flour is to replace 1/16th of plain flour (all purpose flour), with cornflour. Eg: 1 tablespoon of cornflour to 1 cup of flour / 6 g of cornflour to 100g of plain flour.

Graham flour

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 ground. Graham flour is uncommon outside the United States and Europe. It is the main ingredient of true Graham crackers. Many Graham crackers on the market are actually imitation Grahams because they do not contain Graham flour or even whole wheat flour.

Pastry flour

Pastry flour, cookie flour or cracker flour has slightly higher gluten content than cake flour but lower than all purpose flour. It is suitable for fine, light-textured pastries.

Strong flour

Strong flour (or hard flour): This is flour milled from wheat with a high gluten content. Wheat grown in hot and dry conditions where there is a shorter growing season tends to have a higher gluten content. This high gluten content enables a vigorous and even rise which results in a lighter loaf. The following table lists some of the strong flours available in the UK, with their protein percentage and includes some stockists. The higher the protein content, the more gluten will be produced. However, the percentages are only a guideline as to how much the bread will rise. Some flours include improvers such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which help it to rise more.

Strong white flour

Flour name Protein % Stockist
ASDA Strong White Bread Flour 11.0 Asda
Allinson Soft Grain Strong White Bread Flour (1Kg) 11.2 Sainsbury’s
Doves Farm Organic Strong White Bread Flour 11.5 Sainsbury’s
Tesco Organic Strong White Flour 11.8 Tesco
Hovis Strong White Bread Flour 12.0 Sainsbury’s, Waitrose
Allinson Strong White Bread Flour 12.1 Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s
Tesco Strong White Bread Flour 12.1 Tesco
Hovis Super Strong Premium White Bread Flour 12.8 Sainsbury’s
Carrs Breadmaker Strong White Flour 13.2 Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Strong White Plain Flour 13.3 Waitrose
Sainsbury's Strong White Bread Flour 13.4 Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Leckford Strong Bread Flour 13.6 Waitrose
Allinson Oatmill White Bread Flour (1Kg) 13.7 Sainsbury’s
Allinson Bakers' Grade Very Strong White Bread Flour 13.9 Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Very Strong Canadian White Flour 15.0 Waitrose

Strong wholemeal/brown flour

Flour name Protein Stockist
Waitrose Strong Wholemeal Plain Flour TBA Waitrose
Marriage's Strong 100% Stoneground Wholemeal Flour TBA Waitrose
Marriage's Very Strong 100% Canadian Wholemeal Flour TBA Waitrose
Marriage's Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour TBA Waitrose
Bacheldre Watermill Organic Oak Smoked Stoneground Strong Malted Blend Flour TBA Waitrose
Allinson Strong White Bread Flour 12.1 Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s
Tesco Strong Stoneground 100% Wholemeal Bread Flour 11.1 Tesco
Sainsbury's Strong Stoneground Wholemeal Bread Flour 12.0 Sainsbury’s
Doves Farm Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour 12.0 Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Organic Malted Grain Bread Flour 12.4 Waitrose
Waitrose Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour 13.2 Sainsbury’s
Allinson Country Grain Strong Brown Bread Flour (1Kg) 13.8 Sainsbury’s, Waitrose
Allinson Very Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 13.8 Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury's Strong Brown Bread Flour 14.0 Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Wholemeal Flour 14.2 Waitrose
ASDA Brown Bread Flour 14.7 ASDA
Hovis Granary Malted Brown Bread Flour (1Kg) 14.7 Tesco, Sainsbury’s Waitrose
Carrs Breadmaker Wholemeal Flour 15.2 Sainsbury’s

Self-rising or self-raising flour is "white" wheat flour or wholemeal flour that is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. It was invented by Henry Jones. It can also be used as a substitute for Indian Maida flour when cooking Indian Cuisine.

If you cannot find it in your area, or want to make your own at home, a typical formulation/ratio would be as follows:

  • 100 g flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (3 g) baking powder
  • a pinch to ½ teaspoon (1 g or less) salt

Durum atta or semolina flour

Durum or semolina flour is made of durum wheat. It has the highest protein content, and it is an important component of nearly all noodles and pastas. It is also commonly used to make Indian flatbreads.

British and American flour types

In Britain, many flours go by names different from those from America. Some American flours and British equivalents include:

US English term = UK English term

  • Cake and pastry flour = soft flour
  • All-purpose flour = plain flour
  • Bread flour = strong flour, hard flour
  • Self-rising flour = self-raising flour
  • Whole-wheat flour = wholemeal flour

Portuguese flour types

  • Type 55 (Tipo 55) = Plain (US All-purpose) flour
  • Type 65 (Tipo 65) = Strong white (US Bread) flour NB If buying in Lidl or Aldi in Portugal, this flour will be called Type 550
  • Type 80 (Tipo 80) = Wholemeal (US Wholewheat) flour

Other flours

Corn (maize) flour

Corn (maize flour) is popular in southern and southwestern US and in Mexico. Coarse whole-grain corn flour is usually called corn meal. Corn meal that has been bleached with lye is called masa harina and is used to make tortillas and tamales in Mexican cooking. Corn flour should never be confused with cornstarch, which is known as "cornflour" in British English.

Millet flour

Millet flour (bajari or bajri: India) is a yellow flour milled from ground millet grain. It is often mixed with other flours to make unleavened flat breads such as roti. It can also be used as a gluten-free wheat flour substitute.

Rye flour

Rye flour is used to bake the traditional sourdough breads of Germany and Scandinavia. Most rye breads use a mix of rye and wheat flours because rye has a low gluten content. Pumpernickel bread is usually made exclusively of rye, and contains a mixture of rye flour and rye meal.

Tapioca flour

Tapioca flour is produced from the root of the cassava plant and used to make sweet tapioca pudding and a kind of savoury porridge called fufu in Africa.

Sago flour

Sago flour is flour milled from starch extracted from the sago palm. The laborious process to achieve this is: fell the sago palm tree, split the trunk open lengthwise, remove the pith, crush and knead the pith to release the starch, wash and strain the pith to extract the starch from the fibrous residue, collect the raw starch suspension in a settling container, when settled collect and dry the resulting powder.

Spelt flour

Spelt flour is flour milled from spelt, a grain that has been used since Roman times. It can be used to replace wheat flour in many recipes and as it has a nutty taste it is ideally suited to breads and biscuits. It is milled to wholegrain and white flour. It is easier to digest than wheat flour but it is not gluten free.

Noodle flour

Noodle flour is special blend of flour used for the making of Asian style noodles.

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat flour is used as an ingredient in many pancakes in the United States. In Japan, it is used to make a popular noodle called Soba. In Russia, buckwheat flour is added to the batter for pancakes called blinis which are frequently eaten with caviar. In Italy, it is used for polenta taragna. Buckwheat flour is also used to make Breton crêpes called galettes.

Chestnut flour

Chestnut flour is popular in Corsica, the Périgord and Lunigiana. In Corsica, it is used to cook the local variety of polenta. In Italy, it is mainly used for desserts.

Chickpea flour

Chickpea flour (also known as gram flour or besan) is of great importance in Indian cuisine, and also in Italy where it is used for the Ligurian farinata.

Mung bean flour

Mung bean flour (mong bean or green bean flour) is used to make the transparent wrapping of Vietnamese spring rolls.

Teff flour

Teff flour is made from the grain teff, and is of considerable importance in eastern Africa (particularly around the horn of Africa). Notably, it is the chief ingredient in the bread injera, an important part of Ethiopian cuisine.

Atta flour

It is a whole wheat flour made from hard wheat. Hard wheats have a high protein content, so doughs made out of atta flour are strong and can be rolled out very thin. Breads made from atta flour include chapati, roti, and puri.

Tang flour

Tang flour (not to be confused with the powdered beverage Tang) or wheat starch is a type of wheat flour used primarily in Chinese cooking for making the outer layer of dumplings and buns. It is also used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called b?t l?c trong.


Peasmeal or pea flour is a flour produced from roasted and pulverised yellow field peas.

Bean flour

Bean flour is a flour produced from pulverised dried or ripe beans.

Potato starch flour

Potato starch flour is obtained by grinding the tubers to a pulp and removing the fibre by water washings. The dried product consists chiefly of starch, but also contains some protein. Potato flour is used as a thickening agent. When heated to boiling, food to which a suspension of potato flour in water has been added thickens quickly. Because the flour is made from neither grain nor legume, it is used as substitute for wheat flour in cooking by Jews during Passover, when grains are not eaten.

Chuño flour

Chuño flour made from dried potatoes in various countries of South America

Amaranth flour

Amaranth flour is a flour produced from ground Amaranth grain. It was commonly used in early meso-American cuisine. It is becoming more and more available in speciality food shops.

Nut flours

Nut flours are grated from oily nuts--most commonly almonds and hazelnuts--and are used instead of or in addition to wheat flour to produce drier and more and flavourful pastries and cakes. Cakes made with nut flours are usually called tortes and most of them originated in Central Europe, in countries such as Hungary and Austria.

Kamut flour

Kamut flour was grown by the pharaohs in Egypt. It is made from an ancient type of wheat, triticum turgidum, and is naturally high in proteins and minerals such as selenium. It is excellent for pasta and breadmaking.

Rice flours

Glutinous rice

Glutinous rice flour or sticky rice flour, used in east and southeast Asian cuisines for making tangyuan etc.

Brown rice flour

Brown rice flour is of great importance in southeast Asian cuisine. Most rice flour is made from white rice, thus is essentially a pure starch, but whole-grain brown rice flour is also commercially available.

Gluten-free flour conversions

Gluten free flour conversion chart
www.Gygi.com - Originators of Gluten-free flour chart

www.Gygi.com have created a useful equivalent chart. See their blog for more information.

How much does one cup of flour weigh?

Estimated US cup to weight equivalents:

Ingredient US Cups Grams Ounces
Flour White, Rye, Barley/Besan
145 grams (plain flour, unsieved) 5 ounces
Flour Whole Wheat/Atta
165 grams < 5.5 ounces
Flour Chickpea (gram flour)
75 grams 3 ounces
Flour Cornmeal
150 grams > 5 ounces
Flour Cornflour
125 grams < 5 ounces
Flour Oatmeal
100 grams 4 ounces
Flour Potato
150 grams 5 ounces
Flour Rice
150 grams > 5 ounces
Flour Tapioca
125 grams < 5 ounces

Conversion notes:
Every ingredient has a cups to ounces or grams conversion table. Search for the ingredient, and cup to weight conversions are at the end of each ingredient page.

We also have a generic conversion table and a portions per person lookup.

See also

Find recipes that contain 'Flour'

#flour #wheat #protein #cornflour #gluten #roti #buckwheat #wholegrain #cornmeal #carrs #dietaryfibre