March is National Flour Month and flour is something we get pretty excited about at Bob’s Red Mill. After all, we make a lot of different products, but flour is special. Not only do we use our millstones to grind it, but we take a whole grain and mill it into a whole grain flour. Nothing added, nothing removed. One pound of grain in, one pound of flour out. It’s pretty simple, but pretty amazing, too. In honor of National Flour Month, we’re doing a little series on the different types of flour that we offer. Each week, we’ll giveaway a set of flours to a lucky winner. This week, we’re starting with the different varieties of wheat flour that we produce. If wheat flour isn’t your thing, don’t worry, we’ll cover our other flours all in good time.
Wheat flour is probably the single most ubiquitous flour in the world. It is in nearly every packaged food and baked good you look at, even those things that you never think about being baked at all. It’s in those pretty breads at the bakery, the flour tortillas at your local Mexican restaurant, the boxes of pasta you just bought, it’s the backbone of couscous, the thickener in sauces, the breading on your fish, really and truly, as anyone with gluten intolerance can tell you, wheat flour is everywhere. In a perfect world, everything made with wheat would be made with whole wheat flour, but we all know that the world isn’t perfect and that beautiful, fluffy pastries are best achieved with white flour. So we make the best choices we can and practice a bit of moderation.
Whole Wheat Flour: Standard whole wheat flour is milled from high protein, hard red spring wheat. This flour has a minimum protein level of 13.5% and is excellent for bread baking and anywhere yeast is used as the leavening agent (think pizza, pretzels, etc). Because it is whole grain, baked goods using solely whole wheat flour will be a bit more dense. Use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% white flour to create a balanced texture and crumb in your baked good. Adding vital wheat gluten to your baked good will improve the elasticity and rise of your dough (use 1 Tbsp per cup of flour).
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is milled from soft white wheat and has a maximum protein content of 13%. This is an excellent choice for baked goods that use baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent. The lower gluten content does not trap air bubbles as effectively as conventional whole wheat flour, which will not give yeast-risen baked goods the proper rise they need. Use this flour for pastries, cookies, cakes and quick breads.
Hard White Whole Wheat Flour: This special flour is one of our favorite products at Bob’s Red Mill. Milled from high protein, hard white wheat, this flour is the best of both worlds. Light in color, yet full of whole grain goodness, hard white whole wheat flour has a sweeter flavor than conventional whole wheat flour, appealing to those that find whole wheat baked goods to be slightly bitter. It is ideal for bread baking, but can be used for other baked goods. Like regular whole wheat flour, it will make baked goods more dense, so it can be used in combination with white flour to achieve a lighter texture.
Unbleached White Flour: This is not to be confused with All Purpose Flour. Standard unbleached white flour is milled from the same hard red spring wheat as whole wheat flour, but has the germ and bran stripped away to produce a white flour. It has a minimum protein level of 13% and is often referred to as bread flour. This flour is ideal for breads and yeast-risen baked goods, but can be used in place of all purpose flour for most recipes. Read more about white flour here where we go into bleaching, bromating, enriching and more.
Unbleached White Pastry Flour: The refined counterpart of whole wheat pastry flour, this flour is milled from soft white wheat with the bran and germ removed. This flour has a maximum protein content of 9%, making it both the lowest protein wheat flour we carry and the most ideal for fine cake and pastry baking.
Semolina Flour: Semolina flour is the quintessential flour for pasta making and is milled from durum wheat. It has a sandy texture and contains about 12% protein, making it great for bread baking and pizza crust.
Graham Flour: Graham flour is quite simply a coarsely ground whole wheat flour. Milled from hard red spring wheat, graham flour can be used in place of whole wheat flour, however it should only be used for about 20% of the flour in your recipe or you will end up with a very dense baked good. Graham flour can be substituted for Whole Meal Flour with little difference in the texture of the baked good. Graham flour is not made from ground up graham crackers as some people believe, but it can be used to make graham crackers.
Giveaway We’d like to give one lucky reader a set of our whole wheat flours- organic whole wheat flour, organic hard white whole wheat flour and organic whole wheat pastry flour. To enter, simply follow the directions in the app below. We’ll pick a winner at random from all who enter by 12:01 am on 03/13/13.