Types of Flour
Chef Carmine Arroyo explains how to determine the best flour for what you're baking.
Artisan Bread Baking Chef-Instructor Carmine Arroyo has been a pastry chef for more than 15 years — that's a lot of experience working with flour. In the video below, he demonstrates how protein content affects the structure of baked goods.
Bakers and pastry chefs alike have a variety of flour to choose from today, from whole wheat flour and rye flour to nut flour and alternative flours for dietary customizations such as gluten-free. Selecting a flour depends on what you want to bake and the texture you desire.
Hydrating a flour develops gluten. When you mix flour (and typically yeast) with water, you'll see a stretchy starter with high protein while a starter with lower protein content breaks and has less elasticity. Chef Carmine briefly demonstrates this experiment in the video above to breakdown the two main types of flour:
Bread Flour Protein Content
Whole wheat flour is essentially milled wheat berries, and where the wheat comes from as well as the time of year it's harvested affects the texture of the final product. It's a high-gluten bread flour with 13-15% protein that results in an open air structure and a soft crumb. With rye flour, bread gets a much tighter crumb structure. Rye flour has a gritty texture and a binding quality for a denser bread. Friendly carbohydrates cause the product to retain moisture, and the texture provides a very complex flavor. The bran and germ in both flours impact the nutritional content.
Cake flour has 6-7% protein content, resulting in less structure for tender or delicate cakes, cookies or muffins. A very crumbly cupcake shows how fat from eggs and dairy can affect protein and texture.
Chef Carmine recommends experimenting with flour varieties, whether organic flours, almond flour or oat flour, to find the best texture, test and aroma for your final product now that you have a primer on protein content.