Types of Flour
There are a variety of different types of flour depending on what the miller does to the wheat and which wheats are used.
There are two main growing periods, these are:
Winter and Spring Wheats
- Winter wheat is sown in Autumn. After germination and early growth it lies dormant over winter and resumes growth in the spring.
- Spring wheat is sown in the spring and usually matures two or three weeks later with a lower yield.
The grains also have different characteristics. These are referred to as 'hard and weak.'
Strong and Weak (Soft) Wheat
Determined by quality and quantity of protein.
The other difference is endosperm texture, between soft and hard.
This means it is possible to get a:
- hard / hard (like Doves Farm Strong White Flour)
- hard / soft
- soft / hard
- soft / soft
For example, French baguettes use flour milled from hard/soft grains. (T55)
Traditional British Bloomers and breads are made from Hard/Hard wheat, pasta is made from Hard/Hard wheat, and cakes are made from Soft/Soft wheat.
It is best to know what you want to bake, before choosing the flour. Then get the flour you need to bake that.
Below are some different types of flour.
Strong Flour - Bread Flour
This type of flour should be made from hard wheat varieties and produces elastic dough because it has a high gluten and protein content. Gluten is rather like chewing gum and can hold the carbon dioxide gas produced during dough fermentation to produce a good crumb structure in the finished loaf.
Hard wheat varieties produce the best flour for bread making. However, the weather in the UK sometimes makes it difficult for farmers to grow hard wheat in quantity. Unlike many other flour millers, at Doves Farm we blend home grown varieties with imported hard wheat for optimum bread making performance. We do this rather than fortifying the flour by adding refined gluten as in many other mills.
Organic rules do permit the addition of organic wheat gluten to strengthen flour in place of using hard wheat, but at Doves Farm we wish to avoid adding refined additives to our products.
Strong flour is increasingly called bread flour on packaging and is suitable for all yeast cookery, for extensible doughs such as choux and filo pastry, and also puff and flaky pastry.
Milled from softer wheat varieties, there should be little gluten or protein in plain flour. It is ideally suited to cooking where the flour must combine well with other ingredients, where short, crumbly texture is required. Use plain flour in biscuits, shortcrust pastry and for sauces. It is possible to use plain flour to make bread but it is unlikely to rise well and will have a close, crumbly texture but good flavour.
Self Raising Flour
This is a plain flour to which self-raising agents have been added. Raising of the dough is caused by carbon dioxide which results from the raising agents, one alkaline (Sodium Bicarbonate) and one acidic (Acid Calcium Phosphate), reacting with water in the recipe. Self raising flour is used for most cakes, scones, suet pastry and some biscuits.
Gluten Free Flour
Although the gluten can be removed from wheat in a special refining process, gluten free flours are usually made from other cereals (millet, rice, maize or corn) or seeds (buckwheat, chestnuts, chickpeas or grams), or roots (potato, sago and tapioca). Gluten free flours have their own characteristics and do not always react in the same way as wheat flour.
The 1984 Bread and Flour Regulations provide a definition of wholemeal flour saying that 'wholemeal consists of the whole of the product obtained from the milling of cleaned wheat'. The terms whole-wheat and 100% are not actually mentioned although it would be normal to assume they referred to wholemeal.
At Doves Farm, our technical expertise of specialist flour production has been gained from milling wholemeal flours for over 25 years. We design specific wholemeal flours for use in a wide variety of applications. Strong flour for bread making, Fine Plain for easy incorporation into sauces biscuits and pastry, and Self Raising flours for light wholemeal cakes.
Taking the whole grain as 100%, white flour is made by sieving out about 25% of the coarser wheat particles. This would include the bran, wheat germ, semolina, and other coarse particles.
The Bread and Flour Regulations require the addition of statutory nutrients to our wheat bread flours other than wholemeal. At Doves Farm we do not add any other improvers or enzymes ingredients, bleaches, to our strong flours.
Carefully blended from individual wheats before milling, our white flours are unbleached, unchlorinated and will reward the home baker with an excellent end product. Available in Strong, Plain and Self Raising.Back to Hints & Tips