The Differences Between Pastry Flour, Bread Flour, All-Purpose Flour, And Cake Flour
Those who love to bake their bread and cakes at home, always store all the flours and ingredients they need according to the recipe. But occasional bakers use all-purpose flour (AP flour) and the ingredients they have on hand. So, are the other flours used for bread and cakes vastly different than all-purpose flour and if so, how?
How Wheat Flours Can Be Different
Pastry flour, bread flour, all-purpose flour, and cake flour are some of the flours used in baking. The common factor in all these flours is that they are wheat flours. However, the variety of wheat used, harvesting time of the year, and the milling process are some of the factors that set them apart from each other.
The other differentiating element is variance in their protein content. The protein content is directly related to the amount of gluten formed while using a particular flour. Low protein content in flours results in less gluten and vice versa. Gluten is doubly useful in giving structure and determining the texture of the final baked product.
Tip: Cakes with a light and airy structure need flour with minimum protein content. If you want to bake a cake with a dense and chewy structure, you use high protein content flour to generate lots of gluten necessary to get that texture.
Here are the protein content ranges of the four types of flours mentioned above:
- All-Purpose flour – 10 – 12%
- Bread Flour – 14 – 16%
- Cake Flour – 7-8%
- Pastry Flour – 9%
The exact protein content of a particular flour also depends upon the brand, the region where the wheat is produced and even the country. While buying, what is important is the type of flour you purchase, such as cake flour, bread flour, etc.
Sometimes you may have a problem following a recipe from another country because the name of the flour may not be mentioned clearly. In this case, you can refer to the protein content mentioned in the recipe and decide which type of local flour would be best suited for the product you are baking.
Bakers also face issues when substituting flours with different protein contents. Experienced bakers suggest that it is safe to substitute cake flour while baking a pastry and pastry flour for baking a cake. Similarly, bread and pastry flours can be interchanged without affecting the final product.
Another question most bakers have is – Can you bake a cake or bread with all-purpose flour only, if no other flour is at hand? Yes, there is a way out to approximate the available flour to cake or pastry flour. Add either 2 tablespoons of corn starch or a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to a small cup of AP flour to increase its protein content or gluten factor.
Things To Remember While Baking Bread
The key to good baking is the correct measurement of ingredients, as indicated in a recipe. Your final product will never be satisfactory if you add less or more than the required quantities. It is good to invest in a digital kitchen scale to weigh the flour in ounces or grams, and you don’t have to worry about approximating your ingredients. It is a great investment that especially helps your baking and your cooking in general.
However, if you are hesitant to buy one, your alternative is a measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup with fluffed up flour and level it with a spatula to remove the excess flour. The weight of a cup of flour will approximate 120 grams or 4.25 ounces. Baking anything and especially cakes, breads, pastries, muffins, etc. is a culinary skill. You can achieve excellent results by using the right ingredients and equipment.
At Ganache Patisserie, you will find fantastic breads and delicious croissants, layer cakes, cupcakes, pastries, sourdough and other baked goods for everyday consumption as well as for the holidays. We also have a wide variety of cupcakes for you to indulge in. Come; explore our scrumptious world of goodies.
Thanks for reading,
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