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Different Kinds of Flour

Updated on August 23, 2013

Flour is defined as finely ground cereal grain such as wheat, corn, rye, chickpea and rice. It is used throughout the world to make breads, pasta, noodles and a multitude of baked goods.

Different Kinds of Flour

Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is one of the structural ingredients used in flour confectionery. To achieve reliable results it is desirable to chose the correct type of flour with the required strength.

Cooks often refer to flours as strong or weak. These terms indicated the content of non-soluble proteins called gluten contained in the flour. Without gluten, there would be no such thing as raised bread. Gluten gives the dough the elastic property which helps to entrap air and gas during the baking process, to form the sponge-like framework supporting the product. The gluten strength in flour can be altered by using different methods of manipulation, example is kneading or by adding ingredients such as acids like lemon juice, which will soften the gluten. Gluten can also be purchased as a commercial product and added to flours to increase their strength.

  • Strong Flour

These flours can absorb more than weaker flours. Gluten proteins absorb about twice their own weight of water. They are used for products which will have a high rise such as yeast goods, choux and puff pastries. Strong flour is also known as hard flour or baker’s flour.

  • Weak Flour

These flours are more suitable for producing items of shorter and denser texture such as cakes, sponges, biscuits, short and sweet pastries. Weak flours are also known as soft flour or cake flour.

  • Self Raising Flour

This flour is of medium strength and contains a proportion of blended baking powder. Commercial self-raising flour is not a standardized product, because the law only specifies the minimum amount of baking powder it must contain. Results using these flours will vary, making them unsuitable for the professional cook. All flour will contain a certain amount of dampness, which can react with the baking powder, lessening its effectiveness and reliability even further.


This flour is finely milled from corn, which contains no gluten and is mostly starch. It is used mainly to thicken liquids for sauces. It can also be added to wheat flour to lower gluten content and soften the flour for such items as sponges and biscuits.

Cornflour is first mixed with cold water. It is then added to the liquid to be thickened at a temperature which must not exceed 77oC . If it is added to hotter liquids, the cornflour will go lumpy.

Commercial custard powder is made from cornflour with flavor and colour added.


This flour is finely milled from the arrowroot plant. It has the same thickening properties as cornflour and is used in the same manner.

It is widely used for making glazes, because in clear liquids it remains almost transparent.

Rice Flour

Flour made from finely ground white or brown rice.

In many Asian countries it is used to make rice noodles, desserts and as a thickening agent.

Ground rice is a coarser form of rice flour. It is also used to make milk desserts, in shortbread and as a thickener and binder for forcemeats. Glutinous rice flour is used in pastries, sweet dishes and to thicken sauces.

Chickpea Flour

Also known as “BESAN” (Indian) . Flour made from a small variety of chickpea. Used in a batter for fritters and as a thickener for sauces and stews.

Rye Flour

Contain less gluten than wheat and produces a very heavy dark bread such as pumpernickel.  It is usually blended with wheat flour to make a lighter rye bread and crisp bread.

Storage of Flour

Flours should be stored in dry, clean containers with well fitting lids in a dry well-ventilated area.

Old flour should be removed and containers cleaned clearly labeled with their contents to avoid mistakes when selecting flour.


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    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 6 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I do not bake bread on its own but I do get wheat-free or flourless bread at times.

    • The Quiz Master profile image

      Warren 6 years ago from England

      Another great hub.

      I do a lot of baking and make my own pizza bases and I never looked into the finer details of flour, this hub has educated me, thanks.

    • fbliangcha profile image

      fbliangcha 6 years ago from Guangxi-Zhuang, China

      Enjoyed your post. We here in south west china use rice flour added to water and spread thinly over a round pan or over cloth that is tightly fixed over a pot filled with water. this is steamed and then rolled up and eaten.

      Just thought I mention that in japan we use buckwheat flour for buckwheat noodles. As far as I know most noodles are all made with a form of white flour but japan's buckwheat noodles (soba) are the only one that is not white. buckwheat has a lot of nutrition and is good to clean the blood.