Did you know that there are more than several varieties of flour and not just all-purpose flour? Sure, you can get the job done with regular all-purpose flour but sometimes, a few recipes will require a bit more love than others.
This is where these multiple types of flours come in. From making bread to pizzas to cakes, pastries, and more, there is a type of flour for everything!
If you are here to figure out what baker’s flour is and how it’s different from its cousins then we have got you covered.
What is baker’s flour? Baker’s flour has a higher protein and gluten content which makes it perfect for baking bread and other flour-based products. This is why it’s called baker’s flour because it truly is a baker’s best friend when it comes to quality baking.
There are a lot of similarities between different types of flours but there are some key differences that set them apart. Read on below to learn more about baker’s flour and other flour types:
Flour comes from wheat and several species of wheat produce different types of flour.
For example, the species that grow high-protein kernels are processed, and is termed as “bread flour”. The species that grows low-protein wheat becomes cake flour.
All-purpose flour is a hybrid of sorts and has medium protein which is great for both baking cakes and baking bread. The process starts at the mill where different species are harvested and sent to the processing plant.
Each species is processed a bit differently and is packaged and sent to different vendors for either commercial use or general selling purposes. When you go to the supermarket, pay close attention to the labeling of the flour you pick.
If the packaging says “baker’s flour” then this variety will help you bake bread and other products that need to rise and firm up (just like bread).
However, this isn’t to say that you can’t bake a loaf of bread with all-purpose flour.
All-purpose four can be used to bake almost anything but if you are looking to get the right taste, texture, and consistency, then you ought to opt for baker’s flour. Baker’s flour and bread flour are the same as is cake flour and plain flour.
These two types of flours can be used interchangeably but the correct use will significantly improve the quality of the end product.
Bread flour or baker’s flour is used because of its high gluten and protein content that helps the dough rise and settle well.
Cake flour or plain flour is used to cook pastries and cakes and has a crumbly texture that is easy to slice compared to bread flour. Meanwhile, all-purpose flour is for people who don’t want to use a specific type of flour.
All-purpose flour is perfect for everyday use and can be used to bake almost anything. Of course, as we mentioned above, if you want the same commercial-grade quality then you will have to bring in the right flour.
Bread Flour, Plain Flour, And More
Remember all-purpose flour? It’s made to be a compromise between baker’s flour and cake flour because it meets both in the middle with a medium protein and gluten content.
However, you can easily tweak the flour by adding in different varieties to bake better.
You might have wondered, if the same flour is used in baking bread, then why does every loaf taste different, and why are some bakeries more popular than others?
The answer is simple: they have perfected their recipe by mixing flour and other ingredients in a very specific proportion.
Most bakers don’t just go with store-bought baker’s flour. The ambitious ones will probably mix and match different types of flour to create a unique blend that will set their loaf apart.
A good example of this is how you can mix a bit of cornflour with plain flour to turn it into something similar to bread flour.
By using cornflour, you will increase the gluten content in plain flour, and thus, the new mixed flour will be able to bake bread that is firm yet easy to slice into.
This combination of flour is the reason why so many bakeries are able to produce their own take on bread and other baking products.
Remember, baking is a science and you can tweak the recipe in different ways to produce different results.
How Baker’s Flour Is Different From Bread Flour
There is a lot of confusion among amateur bakers who can’t discern between baker’s flour and bread flour.
Well, the truth is that both these flours are essentially the same. Remember, bread requires high protein and gluten to rise and firm up so bread or baker’s flour is used for this purpose.
Cake flour is also known as plain flour and is used to bake cakes and pastries. This variety is markedly different from bread flour because it is designed to crumble easily. However, when it comes to all-purpose flour, things get a bit different.
All-purpose flour is used to bake cookies, cakes, and more. So, while millions of people will be more than happy to use this flour for everyday baking purposes, for industrial use, professionals will opt for a more exact variety.
So, what would happen if you were to bake cakes with bread flour and bake bread with cake flour?
Well, in this case, both will come out looking the same but when you bite into them, the texture and consistency are going to be completely different.
When the cake and bread firm up after a while, you may even notice a few differences even before cutting through them.
For example, bread made from plain/cake flour is going to be crumbly and not firm enough while the cake made from bread flour will be super firm and not too moist.
This is why using the right type of flour is extremely necessary if you want the right type of results.
People who opt for all-purpose flour can still get away with some recipes but even with this hybrid flour, you may see some quality discrepancies.
Additives And Bread Improvers
Most commercial-grade flours will have various additives. If you are getting your flour directly from a mill, then chances are that you may only get what you set out to buy—flour without additives.
However, some large-scale manufacturers may also add minerals and vitamins to enrich their products. Some mills may even produce low gluten varieties but with high protein for bread flour.
The flour industry is diverse and manufacturers can deliver tailor-made flour to different vendors.
For example, some large-scale commercial bakeries may outsource their flour from a manufacturer that produces it with special specifications.
The same mill may also produce everyday-use flour too. If you look at the types of flour at your local supermarket, you are bound to find different varieties there too.
Gluten-free flour exists and is used to bake a lot of things. Some brands may even offer flour with ascorbic acid to increase the volume of the flour, thereby improving the bread quality as well.
“Bread improvers” is an umbrella term for additives used in conjunction with specialized bread flour for the purpose of baking better quality bread.
Of course, these additives are only added to set bread products apart from other loaves in the market.
This is the same with plain/cake flour too. Most manufacturers will make flour that is much moister and softer when baked.
If you buy a recipe-mix for pancakes, cakes, or bread from the market then you are basically buying a highly specific mix of flour and additives that are combined to fulfill a specific purpose.
Meanwhile, all-purpose flour can have the same additives too. A lot of brands may even enrich and add additives to their all-purpose flour for better everyday baking.
For the best results, we recommend buying all-purpose flour from a local mill and purchasing a batch from a typical store to understand and figure out exactly how both of them are different.
Other Types Of Flours
As mentioned above, flour comes in several varieties and fulfills multiple purposes.
For example, there is wholemeal wheat flour which is also known as Chakki Ata in South Asia. To explain how this flour is different we must first learn a few basics about milling and processes that we briefly mentioned above.
Baker’s flour/Bread flour and cake flour/plain flour are highly refined varieties of wheat flour, meaning that they have been processed to the point that you only get a white powdery mix consisting of the endosperm.
Let’s go back to the mill for a second. When the shipment of wheat comes into the factory, it is unprocessed, meaning that it has twigs, dirt, and wheat kernels all mixed together. A series of processes clear the wheat from other impurities.
The wheat kernel is made up of different layers called:
The bran is a hard shell that covers the wheat kernel and within it is the germ and endosperm.
When the factory processes refined wheat, it basically gets rid of the bran and germ (which is also known as the seed) and leaves behind the endosperm that is further processed into a powder.
The leftover bran and germ are sent to different factories to be used in animal feed or for other purposes – nothing is wasted!
When we talk about wholemeal wheat or Chakki Ata, we are essentially referring to a variety of flour that contains all three components of the kernel in varying degrees.
Why? Because the germ and bran add a lot of nutrition back to the flour.
This flour is used to make flatbread and has a much different texture and taste compared to regular flour. Wholemeal wheat has more fiber and is also packed with nutrition however its use is fairly limited when it comes to baking.
Most people don’t prefer the hard texture and significantly different flavor of wholemeal flour when compared to regular flour and others may not even be able to digest it properly.
However, bran bread or wholemeal bread is still produced and marketed as “brown bread” and is nutritionally different from white bread that you may commonly see in stores.
You may even find some specialized bran-infused pastries too.
Flour comes in many varieties but serves a simple purpose. They are designed for baking different products and can greatly affect the quality of bread and cakes.
Baker’s flour is known as bread flour as it has more protein and a higher gluten content to support firmness and to help the bread rise properly whereas plain flour or cake flour is used to make pastries and cakes.
All-purpose flour can be used as a compromise or alternative to both flours because it has just enough gluten and protein to bake both bread and cakes.
However, using different and specific types of flours will always produce a much better result.
Remember, baking is a science and you can mix and match different types of flour to achieve different results. Whether it’s cookies, cakes, bread, or more. Flour is a highly essential part of our diet and a foundation when it comes to baking.
Now that we’ve gone over what exactly bread flour is, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
How is bread flour different from baker’s flour?
Bread flour and baker’s flour are the same thing. Bread/baker’s flour has high gluten and protein which helps in making the dough and loaf rise properly. Most manufacturers may use different terms for bread or baker’s four.
It is better to understand their characteristics than to go with the labeling in some instances. Before buying flour, just check for its protein and gluten content. Higher values mean that the flour is meant for baking rather than making cakes.
How is all-purpose flour different from baker’s flour?
All-purpose flour is made as a compromise between bread flour and plain flour. Plain flour has a low protein and gluten percentage which makes it ideal for cakes and pastries while bread flour is the opposite.
The variety that has a bit of both is called all-purpose flour which has a medium protein and gluten percentage.
This makes all-purpose flour a good substitute for both baking purposes. You can make cookies, bread, and cakes with this type of flour.
However, the quality, texture, and consistency can vary greatly while using all-purpose flour.
Can you make a cake using bread flour?
Bread flour is mostly used in making loaves of bread.
If you compare the consistency, texture, and firmness of bread to cakes then you can imagine how different your cake would bake using bread flour. Cakes are made to have a crumbly texture and to be moist.
While you can successfully bake a cake using bread flour, the result may not be that desirable. You can try this by baking a small cupcake in a ramekin to get a better understanding of how the flour would affect your cake.
Can you make bread flour from regular flour?
Yes. If you have plain flour/cake flour at home and are short of bread flour then you can mix a bit of cornflour with the cake flour to make something similar to bread flour.
Of course, this is only meant as a substitute and shouldn’t always be used unless it serves a purpose.
The cornflour will raise the gluten content in the plain flour, thus making it more suitable for bread and other loaves.
To make bread flour, measure 2tbsp of cornflour in a cup and then fill the rest of the cup with cake or all-purpose flour. Sift the mix a few times so that it is mixed properly and use it as a substitute for bread flour.