Everyone loves baked goods. Breads, cakes, pancakes and white sauce have one main ingredient in common – flour. With a large variety of flours available, you can now opt for heathier alternatives than the recipes you grew up with. And of course, you can still use cake flour for that never-flops, light and moist vanilla sponge!
To better understand flour, it is best to understand the make-up of the wheat grain. It is made up of 3 parts, the inner endosperm, the wheat germ and the outer husk, known as bran. The endosperm is high in starch, the germ is high in nutrients and protein and lastly the bran is high in fibre.
As part of our Love Food Movement, we explore a variety of flours to educate you on their benefits and to explore more ingredients on your kitchen. You too can join our Love Food Movement, on Facebook, or by subscribing to receive our weekly tips and recipes.
Cake Flour is made up of the soft endosperm, and then bleached to further break down the proteins – it does not offer high nutritional value but it’s ability to bind to fats makes for a smooth batter. Think of a glossy cheese sauce or melt in your mouth shortbread.
Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour uses the whole wheat grain – the endosperm, the germ and the bran. It offers a fuller flavour and more nutrients than the stripped flour. It makes for a much denser end product, like whole-wheat bread or bran muffins. Note: The shelf life of whole wheat flour is shorter than Cake flour.
Self-raising four is very simply a cake four with added baking powder. A recipe containing this will result in not having to add an additional raising agent. You can replace it in any recipe with flour and a raising agent. In fact, we recommend that, if you are not using the self-raising flour shortly, rather purchase flour and baking powder separately to increase the shelf life. Self-raising has a shorter shelf-life as the baking powder reacts with the moisture in the air and loses its fizz. Note: in recipes using yeast such as bread, it is not advised to swap flour for self-raising flour.
Stone-ground refer to the milling process and result in a coarser grain. Different kinds of flour can be stone-ground but mostly it is whole-wheat. Stoneground has a stronger flavour, especially to people used to not “tasting’ their flour. We recommend half/ half in most recipes. Expect your dough not to rise as much.
Rye is a different grain, closely related to wheat. Some bakers suggest replacing 2% of the flour called for in your recipe with rye to increase colour, texture and shelf-life. Like wheat flour, it has different types known as white rye, dark rye and pumpernickel. Rye contains less gluten than wheat flour and contains more fibre.
Ground from rice, this is naturally gluten-free. It is a great thickener and does not add any interfering flavour (for example, as coconut flour would) If you wish to substitute wheat flour with rice flour, ¾ of a cup to 1 cup of wheat flour is recommended. It is a good substitute for gluten-free baking.
Quinoa is an ancient grain from South America and its most exalted property is that it is a complete protein and naturally gluten-free. Some even question if it can be called a “grain”. The most used conversation from what flour is 50/50 and it adds a slightly nutty flavour. It is great for vegetarians and vegan offer all 8 essential amino acids.
Low carb / Banting-friendly – Flours used by those following a low carb lifestyle
Sunflower seed flour
This is simply made from ground sunflower seeds. Many low carb baking recipes will call for almond flour which can be 100% substituted for sunflower seed flour, which is a cheaper option.
You can grind your own flour from almonds, or you can purchase Almond flour (already ground flour) in-store. It is common in recipes but it is quite costly. It adds a lovely flavour to baked goods.
Coconut flour is an inexpensive option. Its texture and colour are closely matched to wheat flour but watch out, it does add a coconutty flavour, which sometimes can work to your advantage and sometimes not at all! It can also make your recipes a little drier, so you may want to consider adding more liquids, or lipids.
Heba is incredibly versatile proudly South Africa flour or pap. It is made from a mixture of coconut flour, flaxseed and sunflower seeds and you will find many recipes using this wonder ingredient. The percentages result in flour that is low carb, and a good source of protein. It can be used to make bread, Krummel pap and porridge. It often negates the need for psyllium husk.
This is actually not a flour at all – so we will just take a quick moment to explain it. When using low carb flours, you lose the gluten – a protein that assist with rising, this soluble fibre performs that function is a lot of low carb baking. It is also a good laxative to keep you regular.
Now that you know more about different, tastiest and healthy flours, why not try a substitute in your favourite recipe this weekend?
Special thanks to the website: For the Love of Banting for insight.