enriched wheat flour

Wheat flour is required by the FDA to be enriched with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and iron.

Enriched Wheat Flour

Also Known as Bleached, Enriched Wheat Flour


What is Enriched Wheat Flour?

Wheat flour is a powder made from grinding the wheat kernel. Wheat flour has the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Bleached wheat flour has been treated with benzoyl peroxide or gaseous nitrogen peroxide. Wheat 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

Wheat flour is the main ingredient in most baked goods.

  • In bread, wheat flour provides gluten. Gluten is the key protein in the development of the dough’s protein matrix that traps air and gas molecules.
  • In cakes and other applications, wheat flour provides the starch which helps form the structure via starch gelatinization. Bleaching the flour reduces the natural yellow pigmentation of the flour, making it a brighter white.

Composition

Wheat flour is composed of moisture (12%), protein (10-12%), fat (1%), carbohydrates (75%), and ash (0.4%). These values will vary based on the type of flour. For example, cake flour is milled from soft wheat resulting in lower protein (approx. 8%) and higher carbohydrate content. Bread flour is milled from hard wheat, resulting in higher protein (approx. 11%).

Application

In a basic pan bread, flour is approximately 55% of the formulation, and should be a good quality flour with 10-12% protein. Depending on the formulation, the flour may be added in two separate stages (sponge and dough) or all at once (straight dough).

  • In cake products, flour is commonly 20-25% of the formulation. Ideally a cake flour would be used which has been chlorine treated and provides a low protein content (8%). Flour should not be added until the final mixing stages, to prevent over-mixing which will toughen the cake.
  • In cookies, flour is approximately 30% of the formulation and pastry flour is commonly used which contains a low protein content. Flour should be added in the final stages of mixing.
  • In pastries, flour is approximately 50% of the formulation. The flour must have good gluten quality and a protein content of 12-13%. Flour may be added in a multi-stage sponge and dough formulation, or all at once depending on the type of pastry and make up instructions.

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.