Have you taken a look lately at the shelves in the baking aisle of your grocery store? Did you notice how many different types of flour there are to choose from? Maybe it’s just me and my fairly recent interest in experimenting and creating recipes, but I don’t remember there always being such a wide variety of flours.
Almond. Buckwheat. Amaranth. Peanut. All different types of flours.
So how do you know which flour to use for different types of recipes? Which types are gluten free? As you might have guessed, different types of flour should be used for different recipes. Some work better for making bread while others work better for baking desserts or combined with other flours. By knowing a little about the types of flour out there, you’re better able to pick the right flour for your health and cooking needs.
- Amaranth Flour is a protein rich flour and yet it is gluten free. Amaranth is a leafy spinach-like plant that produces grains, which are ground into flour. Because of its high protein content, Amaranth Flour is excellent for baking. However, Amaranth flour is not a flour that would work well as a substitute for recipes that use all-purpose flour but may work well as a substitute for other flours. Experiment and look for Amaranth Flour specific recipes to get an idea of the best uses for this specific type of flour.
- Whole Wheat Flour is the roughest and is considered unrefined. Containing the entire wheat kernel, whole wheat flour is rich in fiber as well as important nutrients like potassium, magnesium and selenium. Whole wheat flour is typically used for breads and the refined versions can be used for muffins, scones, and other similar baked goods.
- Barley Flour has a far lower gluten content than wheat so it’s not used for baking breads. However, the nutty, rich flavor of Barley Flour makes it an excellent thickening agent for stews, sauces and soups. Barley Flour works well when combined with other gluten free flours. It adds a unique flavor to cakes, biscuits and pastries which require low gluten flour.
- Buckwheat Flour has no gluten or wheat content. This flour is made by grinding the small seeds of the Buckwheat plant and is very rich and nutty. Often mixed with other flours, Buckwheat can be used for making breads and muffins. Recipes that call for Buckwheat Flour alone are rare because of the powerful flavor of this flour and its slightly bitter aftertaste.
- Brown Rice Flour is a gluten free option. Made by milling unpolished brown rice which still contains both the bran and germ. Brown Rice Flour contains more nutrients and is rich in fiber when compared to White Rice Flour. The rough texture of this flour can be a little grainy, which results in heavier baked goods with a nutty aftertaste. Brown Rice Flour is often combined with other flours because of its heavy nature.
- Almond Flour is made by grinding almonds, with or without their skin. Blanched almonds, which have been peeled, form the basis for Almond Flour, while whole almonds are used to make Almond meal, which is darker. With a consistency similar to corn meal, Almond Flour has a rich nutty taste that is ideal for pastries, tarts, pies and cakes. Almond Flour can also be mixed with other flours to add a nutty flavor to your recipe.
- Coconut Flour is ground from dried, defatted coconut meat and is gluten free, high in fiber and low in digestible carbs. has a pleasant flavor that’s slightly nutty and mildly sweet without a strong “coconut” taste. It provides more protein than wheat flour and ten times more fiber, most of it the healthy soluble type. Interestingly, its extraordinary high fiber content means that it absorbs considerably more liquid than other flours. Therefore, the more coconut flour you use in a recipe, the more liquid and eggs you’ll need. Living Without provides a great list of general guidelines when using coconut flour.
- Corn Flour should not be confused with Corn Starch. Corn Flour is made from the entire kernel, whereas Corn Starch is extracted from the endosperm in the kernel. This flour is available in a yellow and white version. Both varieties are gluten free. Yellow Corn Flour is often combined with wheat flour to reduce the overall gluten content for cakes, cookies, pastries and other baked goods that do not contain yeast. White Corn Flour is often used to thicken recipes both baked and cooked.
- Peanut Flour is made by grinding the roasted nuts into a thick paste, and then pressing out most or all of the oil and then further ground into a fine powder that can be used in cooking. Flour made from lightly roasted peanuts will only have a slight peanut flavor, whereas the flour made from dark-roasted peanuts will give food a more robust and forward peanut flavor. Peanut flour can be added to smoothies for a protein boost and a thicker texture. Mix it with soups and sauces to thicken and give a creamier texture. Peanut flour can be used for breading meat and fish, made into a creamy vinaigrette, or even reconstituted with water for a low-fat peanut butter substitute. Peanut flour doesn’t form gluten like wheat flours, so it’s best when used in combination with wheat flours or gluten-free flour mixes.
- Arrowroot Flour is gluten free option and is very unique. This flour is made from ground roots, and has no taste or scent, which makes it a great choice for thickening cooked foods without affecting the aroma or flavor.
The list continues including some of the more traditional types of flour like self rising, pastry, and all-purpose flours. I haven’t tried all of the flours listed but of the varieties I have tried so far almond is a favorite.
(Resources: Bob’s Red Mill and What’s Cooking America)
Is it just me or does it seem to you the types of flour have increased over the past few years? Do you experiment with different types of flour? Do you have a favorite that you like to use for cooking and baking?
On the menu for this week:
Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation Week 2 Nutrition Plan