Wheat: Flour Types

There is no doubt that wheat is one of the world’s most common cereal grains.

In baked goods, wheat flour is a key ingredient. A wide variety of flours are available to meet various baking needs. Bakers should be aware of these differences so they can choose the right flour for every recipe.

Table of Contents

It is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain that is a worldwide staple food.

It is an important source of carbohydrates. Having a protein content of about 13%, it is one of the most important sources of vegetable protein for human consumption, allowing it to supply essential amino acids at a relatively low level when compared with other cereals. Wheat contains multiple nutrients and dietary fiber when eaten as a whole grain.

Among a small percentage of the general population, gluten – the major component of wheat protein – can trigger coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.[1]

Baking Flour Types

different type of flour on wooden spoon

Selecting the right product depends on what you want to make and whether you have a dietary restriction or are looking for nutritional benefits.

All-Purpose Flour

Kuwait flour pack on a white background

All-purpose wheat flour has a wide range of uses and can be used as a general-purpose flour. In general, it is milled from hard red wheat or a blend of hard and soft wheat. A range of baked goods can be made with all-purpose flour. In addition, it is used to thicken sauces and gravies.

  • Uses: Bread, biscuits, pizza, cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc.
  • Protein: 10% to 13% [2]

Cake Flour

cake flour

It is a soft wheat flour ground to a fine texture that contains less protein (and thus less gluten) than all-purpose flour, which results in a lighter, looser crumb texture. It is easier to achieve lighter, tender textures when baking. Used to make light and fluffy cakes. 

  • Uses: Cakes, sponge cake, cupcakes, muffins.
  • Protein: 7% to 8% [3]

Pastry Flour

pastry flour yellow pack on a white background

Produced from milling soft white or soft red wheats. The purpose of pastry flour is to make sweet baked goods that require some of the desired attributes of both hard and soft wheat. It absorbs less liquid. It also contains more gluten than cake flour, giving it greater elasticity.

  • Uses: Pie crust, pound cakes, or breadsticks.
  • Protein: 8% to 10% [4]

Self-rising Flour

self rising flour pink pack on a white background

Self-rising flour is all-purpose white flour with added baking powder and, salt. practical for new home bakers or those who don’t have enough time to start a recipe from scratch. 

  • Uses: Biscuits, muffins, pancakes and some cakes.


  1. Wheat on Wiki.
  2. USDA FoodData Center. Foundation Foods.
  3. Al-Dmoor, H. M. Cake flour: functionality and quality. European Scientific Journal, 9 (2013): 3.
  4. Flour, pastry, unenriched, unbleached (foundation, 1104913). USDA FoodData Center


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