All-purpose flour is a common baking ingredient.

All-purpose flour is a common baking ingredient.

All-Purpose Flour

Also known as Plain Flour


What is all-purpose flour?

All-purpose flour is a powder made from grinding the wheat kernel. It is a blend of hard and soft wheat, which provides around 8-11% protein. It has the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm.

  • Bleached flour has been treated with benzoyl peroxide or gaseous nitrogen peroxide.
  • White flour is required by the FDA to be enriched with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and iron.

Origin

Wheat is produced globally. There is wheat production in the majority of the continental U.S. The region dictates the variety of wheat grown based on kernel hardness and color. For example, Kansas primarily produces Hard Red Winter Wheat. The wheat is harvested and delivered to flour mills to grind into flour.

Function

All-purpose wheat flour is an option for a variety of products, including; cookies, cakes, quick breads, and pastries. With its moderate protein level it will function in a range of products. This is not true of a flour designed for a particular product type, i.e., cake flour or high-gluten bread flour. Bleaching the flour reduces the natural yellow pigmentation of the flour, making it a brighter white.

Nutrition

Wheat flour is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. When it is enriched, as required by law in the U.S., it is a good source of folic acid, iron, B vitamins, as well as complex carbohydrates.

Wheat flour is composed of moisture (12%), protein (10-12%), fat (1%), carbohydrates (75%), and ash (0.4%). All-purpose is typically around 10% protein but will depend on the supplier’s current specifications.

Application

All-purpose flour is a good choice for baked goods that require a mid-range protein level. Biscuits, chemically-leavened pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, breadings, and dusting flour would all perform well with all-purpose flour. It would be acceptable for use in some cake products like muffins or pound cake. All-purpose flour is not recommended for high-ratio layer cakes that need significant volume and a tender crumb. When using all-purpose flour in bread products, vital wheat gluten should be added at a level of 1-3% based on flour weight.