We all know and are aware that flour is a primary ingredient in baking bread and other pastry goods. Using the right flour (whether it’s about buying an unbleached AP flour or whole wheat flour in Singapore) can help you get the best result in what you’re attempting to cook.
Most prevalent flours are milled from wheat, while others derive from vegetables and fruits. Still, today’s supermarkets stock myriads of flour products. The ever-increasing consumer demands for quality baking essentials have brought a diverse selection to the baking aisle. Nonetheless, there are always the right choices for your kitchen needs.
Here are the most common types of flours you can buy at your local supermarket:
- All-purpose flour
- White whole-wheat flour
- Self-rising flour
- Gluten flour
- Semolina flour
- Bread flour
- Cake or pastry flour
- Self-rising flour
- 100% whole-wheat flour
Choosing The Right Type Of Flour
Now, if you’re strolling down at your local store or supermarket to the baking aisle, you might feel overwhelmed with which type of flour to choose. Unlike when you’re online, it’s much easier to look up references and information about certain types, whether you’re planning to buy an all-purpose or whole grain flour in Singapore.
To decide which type should work for your needs, you’ll have to determine its content or ingredients. We must understand that flour is composed of starch (carbohydrates), some fats and proteins. The quality of its content (along with the protein) are the two most crucial considerations for experienced bakers. The protein (also known as the gluten-forming protein in the flour and baking world) and the quantity of it can help you determine the flour’s cooking performance.
The Protein Level
Higher content of protein means a ‘stronger’ flour and is often milled from hard grain wheat since it contains a significant percentage of protein. The higher the protein content, the more it has better gluten-forming potential in the dough, providing good crumb structure. Most foods with a high level of flour protein are chewy and crusty. Most high-protein flours are whole wheat flour and soy flour.
On the other hand, if the protein count is low, it means it will produce a softer crumb, which is ideal for chemically leavened and tender baked goods. Most bakeries that bake cakes, pie crusts and cookies often use low-protein flour variants. Hence they are the ‘soft’ types. The range of protein might differ depending on the brand and flour manufacturer. Cake flour is an example of a flour type with the lowest level of protein. Others consider undergoing cake flour with special bleaching to increase its ability to hold sugar and water, which extends its ability to hold its rise.
The Best Choice?
So, what’s the most versatile flour that’s best for all-around use? Should you buy high fibre flour or 100% whole-wheat flour? Your best bet would be the ‘all-purpose flour’ for versatility and all-around use. It’s a common choice for casual bakers. However, the selection may vary for avid and experienced bakers as some would avoid using all-purpose flour to get the most accurate and ideal baking result.
When using all-purpose flour for baking, you may notice that your baked goods (cake or cookies) may appear less delicate than those with low-protein flour. On the other hand, if you use all-purpose flour for pastry goods, the bread may appear softer and flatter. Nonetheless, the quality and differences should still differ for each baker. Hence it’s often best to look for proper ways of baking goods using all-purpose flour to get the best possible result. In some cases, others mixed all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to create a lighter loaf.
For other kitchen cooking, such as following the tempura recipe, you can also use all-purpose flour. If you happen to look for more alternatives, you can consider choosing:
- Rice flour
- Almond flour
- Quinoa flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Gluten-free flour
There are other loads of flour types that you can consider as an alternative. If you are having a difficult time choosing the best ones, it’s often ideal to follow and stick with recipes as much as you can.
Bleached & Unbleached Flour
If you’re looking for flour, you might also come across bleached and unbleached flour types. And just like any other flour variants, there’s a distinguishable difference between the two. The most notable dissimilarity between the two lies in the way they are ‘processed.’
A bleached flour is refined and treated with chemicals, which means that the germ and bran in the wheat kernel are removed, leaving only the endosperm without its minerals. Bleached flour dries out and whitens fast with a little finer texture. The chemical agents act to speed up ageing. A baked good with bleached flour provides more volume and a softer texture on the inside and outside with brighter colour.
On the other hand, unbleached flour ages and whitens naturally, which takes them longer to produce. Any untreated or unrefined flour with chemicals is considered ‘unbleached flour’. Nonetheless, they can be more expensive than bleached ones. They have a denser texture and provide more structure when baked, making them an ideal choice of recipe for pastries and yeast bread. Unlike bleached flour (which has a characteristic of brighter white with a finer grain), unbleached flour has a paler white with denser grain.
For casual bakers, the difference between the two shouldn’t confuse you from using them. Both will provide you with a quality rise for your baked goods, and the difference can be slight!
If you are looking for whole grain flour in Singapore, visit Prima Flour for high-quality flour items for your cooking and baking needs!