Flour is not just flour. Sure, there are the basic things wheat flour adds to your baking formula: gluten proteins that help give structure and volume, a mix of vitamins and minerals to add nutrition, and much more.
However, your flour and wheat type has a great impact on how your final bread product will turn out. Varieties of wheat and flour are best suited for specific products, from cookies to crackers.
What wheat type should I pick?
- Hard red winter is primarily grown in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas. It’s best used for breads, tortillas, flat breads, crackers, and rolls.
- Hard red spring is produced in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana to make breads, crackers, and rolls.
- Soft red winter is mainly grown in the Eastern states and is used to create cookies, cakes, pastries, and biscuits.
- Soft white is primarily grown in the Northwestern region of the United States and used to make cakes, pastries, and cookies.
The primary difference in wheat types comes down to grain hardness, a texture characteristic caused mainly by a specific ‘hardness’ gene expression. Other factors play a role as well, such as growing conditions, moisture, lipids, pentosans and protein content.
What part does protein in wheat play?
The viscoelastic characteristics of wheat flour are due to the gluten protein complex formed from the major storage proteins: glutenin and gliadin. These are found in the endosperm. Molecularly, glutenin is the main wheat flour component responsible for dough cohesiveness and elasticity. As baking commences, gliadins react with glutenin. This sets the loaf structure. So the amount of protein present in the wheat affects the final characteristics of the baked good.