Types of Flours What's The Difference Between Whole Wheat, Pastry, Cake, All Purpose..
The main difference among flour types is in the gluten content, which varies depending on whether the flour is made from hard wheat or soft wheat. Gluten is the protein that helps the yeast stretch and rise. To achieve the best baking results, use the type of flour a recipe specifically calls for.
Regular whole wheat flour is ground from hard wheat berries. This has a higher protein (and gluten) content. This makes a more elastic dough that will risewell with sourdough and yeast breads. If you want to grind flour for making bread, then look specifically for berries that say “hard” wheat berries.
Pastry flour is made with from “soft” wheat berries. They have a lower protein (and gluten) content and lends itself to more tender quick breads, desserts, pancakes, and soda bread. The higher gluten found in hard wheat flour would make these products more tough.
Different varieties of wheat can have higher and lower protein and gluten content, so how much hard and soft berries contains will vary.
All purpose flour is a mix of hard and soft wheat flours. It’s a kind of “in between” choice that can work semi well for bread or pastry baking.
Cake flour is a very low gluten flour (obviously white, bleached and finely milled as well). This produces a light and airy cake.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have durum or semolina flour which is very high in protein and made from the endosperm of durum wheat. The high protein content is why it holds together so well when you are making pasta (a traditional use for it).