As an amateur baker, walking through the baking aisle can be a little overwhelming. Resorting to boxed mixes can be the easy way out, but that will leave you with a less flavorful baked good, packed with artificial ingredients and preservatives.

Once you’re in the know about what type of wheat flour to buy to make your favorite baked goods from scratch you’ll be good to go. Your friends will be begging you for your recipes in no time.

Here is everything you need to know about different types of wheat flours from how they’re made to what recipes they’re best for. 

White Vs. Whole Wheat

wheat, bread, sweet, pastry, candy, cookie, flour, toast, cereal
Christin Urso

Keep in mind that most types of wheat flour can be either white or whole wheat.

White flours are made just from one portion of the seed, the endosperm. Some white flours are bleached, which speeds the curing process. This makes bleached flour easier to work with, absorbing more water than regular white flour and rising better than whole wheat flour. 

Whole wheat flours are ground from all three parts of the seed head. Whole wheat flour is more absorbent and contains more nutrients than white flour. 

The big takeaway here is that most flours are available as either white or whole wheat. When substituting whole wheat flour for white, just use less flour or more liquid. 

All Purpose Flour

flour, milk, cereal, dairy product, bread, coffee, wheat, dough, sweet
Jocelyn Hsu

This flour is the most basic, and can be used in the widest variety of recipes. It’s a white flour and will last longer on the shelf than whole wheat flour. The drawback is that it has fewer nutrients. 

Self-Rising Flour

flour, dough, cereal, wheat, milk, egg, bread
Jocelyn Hsu

This flour is usually made from soft wheat as the base. Then, salt, a leavening agent, and an acidic substance are added. The result is a flour that doesn’t need yeast or added leavening to rise. The only drawback is that it only has a shelf life of two months. 

Enriched Flour

flour, egg, yolk
Erin Rissler

This is just a catch-all name for processed flour that has had nutrients added to it. Vitamins and minerals are lost when processing the wheat, so they can be added back in to add nutritional value to the final product. Almost all flours you find in the grocery store are enriched in some way

Bread Flour

chicken, bread
Alex Frank

Bread flour has higher protein and gluten content than all-purpose flour. Most bread recipes that call for bread flour require kneading to develop the gluten, resulting in chewier texture.

Go ahead and use it in anything chewy, from bread to pretzels, but avoid using it in cakes or pastries that are meant to crumble. 

Durum Flour

spaghetti, pasta, basil, sauce, macaroni, vegetable
Shun Matsuhashi

Durum flour, made from durum wheat, has the highest protein content out of any type of wheat flour. It’s most commonly used in pasta because it can produce the most gluten and be stretched super thin. 

Pastry Flour

apple pie, sauce, pastry
Jocelyn Hsu

This flour is the opposite of bread flour. It has low protein content and fine texture, making it perfect for making baked sweets like pie crust, cakes, and muffins. Most pastry flours are bleached. Don’t use pastry flour for bread, because it won’t hold it’s shape.

Cake Flour

chocolate, cake, doughnut
Izzi Weiss

Cake flour has a similar protein content to pastry flour, but it’s blended extra finely. It’s also usually bleached. That process damages the starch, resulting in cake flour absorbing extra liquid and rising extra high. That makes it perfect for many cakes, but not so good for breads. 

00 Flour

pizza, cheese
Rebecca Buechler

00 Flour is the ideal flour for making pasta and super thin crusts, like pizza. It is different from other flours made from soft wheat because it’s ground ultra finely, allowing doughs made from 00 flour to be rolled super thin. That same fineness that makes it great for pasta makes 00 flour no good for breads.

Semolina Flour

cheese, milk
Kevin Kozlik

Semolina flour, made from a very coarse grind of the endosperm of durum wheat, has very high protein content.

This makes it great for making pasta and bread. It’s also commonly used by pizza-makers to act like ball bearings on pizza stones and peels when transferring pizzas. 

Gluten-free diets have been a trend recently, but it turns out that they may not be the healthiest option for everyone. Hopefully, now you know how to best use each type of wheat flour in your pantry to make your baked pastries, breads, and pastas restaurant-worthy