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Are all flours created equal?

flour and wheat on a board

I often get my inspiration for sharing my knowledge from questions that are asked.  Questions come from loads of places, students usually, but sometimes I see questions being asked on social media (most of my rants come from social media). 🤣🤣🤣 Recently, I saw this question about different types of flour.  

“This might be a silly question, but are all plain flours the same?”

After a huge and heated debate on this subject, I decided to stop watching because so many members had differing opinions. I tend not to offer advice on posts like this. Sometimes I find it’s better for me just to look away. ??

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere 🙂

Without getting into the heated discussion when the comments turned south like “How would you know if you only bake once a month” 🤷‍♀️ some people are funny; below were some of the answers that were given…

  • “No, I only buy one brand each time, and I stick to it.”
  • “Yes, all plain flours are the same”
  • “No, all-purpose flour is not the same. Some taste bad and are too finely milled.”
  • “Plain flour is used in cakes with bicarb, and all-purpose can be used in anything.”
  • “I’ve tried lots of brands of flour, and I think they’re all the same”
  • “expensive brands are a rip-off.”
  • “I like to buy the middle of the road on the price for flour, not necessarily the same brand.”
  • “I only buy whatever is on special, and I don’t notice a difference.”
  • “I buy King Arthur Flour nothing else stacks up.”
  • “I’m in Australia, and we don’t have that flour, but I find “White Wings” good for me.”
  • “I’m also in Australia, and I think Lighthouse is the best.”

I stopped watching when I noticed there were already 123 comments. I think you get the picture. 🤯

Where are they getting this information from? Some from experience, some from Mums, Aunties and friends, but I think a lot is misinformation from the internet that simply gets repeated.  I guess this is only going to get worse over time. 🖥 If I don’t know, I won’t answer, or I will start with “in my experience…”

Back in the day (showing my age), we used to rely on encyclopedias for information. Nowadays, it seems like anyone with a keyboard can share their opinion. Recently, someone shared a link claiming that Google said the brand of plain flour used doesn’t matter. While I didn’t want to engage in the discussion at the time, I personally believe that the brand of flour does make a difference. But hey, if you and your family can’t tell, who am I to judge?

a scoop of white flour.
Flour (a staple of life)

Are all flours the same?

A pastry chef will tell you “NO” they don’t believe all wheat flours are created equal.   Of course, you can pay a lot for flour, and some would think too much, but I also believe you can pay too little.  This is where you’re leaving yourself wide open for inconsistencies.  Let me explain.

Good quality flour from a reputable producer is developed in a consistent manner. When we want our baked goods to turn out the same every time, we need to adopt a brand we like and stick to it so we can create consistent results. A cheaper brand, may have greater variation from one batch to another.

Plain flour (or all-purpose flour) is made from wheat.  These two names = the same thing. Aussies call it Plain Flour, and other parts of the world (like the USA) call it all-purpose flour. Wheat is starch and protein.  Different varieties of wheat have differing amounts of each.  I like to choose a plain flour that has a range of, say 9 to 10.5g of protein per hundred grams.   A good network of gluten gives our baked goods structure. If you choose a brand that has, say, 12g of protein per 100g, you’re going to have more structure, which can cause toughness.  It’s OK for some recipes like bread, but not great for others.

What is a good baking flour?

I really only buy two types of flour.  On the odd occasion, I’ll grab something else to play with, but mainly I choose the same thing each time, as I want consistency in my baking.  When something goes wrong, you don’t want to be checking every little thing you’ve used.  Sticking with a collection of good products works a treat.

I usually purchase Laucke Plain flour from a local supplier. You can purchase online or contact them for your nearest stockist.  This product has 10.5g of protein per 100g.  That’s the most protein I would use in plain flour. However, it allows me to adjust the protein levels per recipe by adding cornflour (cornstarch) for light, delicate cakes or leave it as it is for most other cakes, cookies and pastries etc.

What is a good bread flour?

My preferred bread flour is usually only found in specialty stores, but you can get it online.  It’s Laucke LCSPA Euro T55 Flour. This flour has just over 12g of protein per 100g.  If you can’t get that, try Wallaby (also from Laucke), it’s a little less at 11.5g protein, but it works just fine, even for my really easy overnight sourdough.

If you like “Simply No Knead” bread flour, then go for their Pasta Dura bread flour (for its strength).  This has a high protein content. Or use their Untreated Strong White Bread Flour, although I have found this one to vary slightly more than the pasta dura. In other countries, such as the USA, take a look at King Arthur flour; many of my students use this and love it.

flour tumbling out of a bag.
A bag of spilled flour

How to choose baking and bread flour

  • Don’t let someone who only bakes once a month tell you what brand of flour you should use. 
  • Use the best quality you can afford.
  • Buy only one brand, and check the taste by making scones or a plain bread loaf. Then, if you like it – stick to it.
  • My recommendation is to check the nutrition label and look for the flour to suit your needs the best.
    • Plain 9.5 – 10.5g of protein per 100g
    • Bakers 11.5 -13.5g of protein per 100g

Got any questions, then ask away.

No? Then let’s go do some baking or breadmaking.

Easy Overnight Sourdough

4 Comments

  1. Hi Bec, so I’m thinking that the more protein in the flour, the more it is considered what we sometimes see in recipes called ‘strong flour’ is that correct?

  2. I have been reading your email about flours , we are both Diabetics and l am trying out different flours with less Carbs so it does not spike the blood sugars , want Low GI .

    1. Hey June,
      I don’t know a lot about Diabetes.

      I know Sourdough is a better option, but you’d have to chat with your doctor about it to make sure if it’s ok for you. Some Sourdough bread you purchase from the supermarket isn’t really proper sourdough; it hasn’t gone through the lengthy process to make it real sourdough. I’ve written a post here on why sourdough is better maybe the links from that could help.

      But for everyday baking, I really have no idea. I’m sure you’ll have checked the Diabetics Australia site out, but if you haven’t there may be some help here.

      I hope all that helps June
      Regards
      Bec

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