Unveiling the Secrets of the Best Flours for Cooking and Baking


Flour is an essential ingredient in many of our households. Flour holds a structure that creates a useful base for many recipes in our everyday cooking and baking.

You can count on many kitchens having these quintessential flour types, either: self-raising flour, or plain flour/all-purpose flour. These are winner ingredients for your cakes, doughs, pastas, pancakes, and even sauces. They include grinded wheat, which has some great health benefits.

Stone ground flour that is unrefined (organic) includes: fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins. Organic wheat flour is great for your nutritional health for many reasons, but it has other advantages too. Organic stone ground flour is far easier for the body to absorb, and tends to be pesticide free also.


Plain flour/All-purpose flour 

This popular flour is a great ingredient for all your general kitchen needs. The easy-to-use product can be used in cooking and baking as it has a mixture of hard and soft wheat for different textures. This is a staple for anyone who likes to jump into the kitchen from time-to-time without having to worry about having every ingredient already in the house.

Something to note about all-purpose flour, is that it doesn’t contain the leavening agent that self-raising flour is so famously known for. Therefore, if you’re looking for a flour that will help your breads, cakes, and doughs rise, then you’d need to add baking soda or baking powder to the mix. Or alternatively, you can purchase self-raising flour on its own. 


Self-raising flour

This is also a very easy flour to use, and a staple for all your baked goods. On the occasion you don’t have any baking soda in the house, self-raising flour automatically contains the expanding agent you need for food to rise.

On some occasions you might need a little bit more of a rising agent for a lighter texture, so read your recipes carefully. This extra rising is particularly used in baking for a less dense base. Cakes with more rise to them are fluffier, lighter, and generally more enjoyable to eat. Density is saved for many breads and doughs that we get a great chewy texture from.


Cake Flour

On the lower scale for gluten inclusion, cake flour is perhaps the lightest type found amongst the wheat flours. With a hint from the name, ‘cake’ flour is optimised for baking. It is a thin white flour that has a softer texture and very little flavouring. This will help the sweet additives really come through into the cakes.

When comparing cake flour to other wheat flours, this product is slightly harder to find in the shops than others. As it is enhanced for baking, you are more likely to find it in baking sections or specific baking shops.

Bread Flour

Alike cake flour, bread flour is optimised for particular types of cooking and baking. Bread flour is used to make doughs for different types of breads and pizzas. With its unusual texture, bread flour is perfect to create the chewiness that comes with biting into our favourite breads and pizzas. Bread flour comes with a distinctive taste and smell that is far more intense than other wheat flours.


Rye Flour

On the lower gluten scale, however, comes rye flour. Compared to all-purpose flour or self-raising flour, rye flour contains a far smaller amount of gluten, therefore making it perfect for those who want to reduce their gluten intake; but perhaps not entirely.

Rye Flour is typically denser and moister in comparison to other flours, it traps less air bubbles when heated so it doesn’t take an airy form. This, mixed with its strong flavouring, can make for great scones, fruit cakes, and even ginger breads. Then, on the savoury side, rye flour is great for making pastas, crackers and sourdough starters especially with yeast.

Interestingly enough, rye flour comes in three main colours or types. The colour all depends on how it is milled. White or light rye is less dense as it has been milled and separated from most of the bran naturally found in the flour. Dark rye includes 100% wholegrain which is where the distinctive heavy texture comes from. This wholemeal flour is nearer to organic flour as it is closest to its original state. Note to self: if you want to be able to shape your flour more easily, stick to lighter rye flour.


Wheat flours are great, simple flours that have been trusted throughout history to make great tasting recipes. However, in this day and age, we live in a world where wheat is no longer included in everyone’s diet. Which begs the question:


What is the alternative?


Flour, before its sold form is simply grains of wheat. Some other grinded forms of flour without wheat are Almond flour, Coconut flour, Chickpea flour, Rice flour, and Oat flour.

For those with a wheat or gluten intolerance there are plenty of alternative flours. The great thing about these flours, is that they do not have to be used just by those of a gluten-free diet.


Almond Flour

An unusual yet versatile flour used in both baking and cooking. The ground almonds make for a nutty and sweet flavour. In baking, almond flour can be used to make all sorts of biscuits and cakes. In fact, the natural plant, eaten raw as well as cooked, can be used to make no-bake treats and protein bites.

These can be quick, easy, on-the-go recipes, perfect for those who are living active lives. In talking about being active, almond flour compared to others is incredibly light weight. Unlike the thickening agent that wheat flours possess; for the assistance of roux’s and sauces, almond flour is far lighter.

With all these positives, almond flour comes with even more benefits. The plant-based flour has less sugars and less carbohydrates than many other flour forms because of its low-glycaemic index. The glucose in almonds is released into the body far slower compared to wheat. This makes for a great coating when frying foods as it’s healthier all around.


Coconut Flour

Alike almonds, Coconut flour comes with a list of multifunctional uses. Found in the same plant-based family, coconuts can be grinded into flour, again used for baking and cooking. The coconuts familiar sweet taste acts as a brilliant structural flavouring for biscuits and pancakes.

The low-glycaemic flour also acts as a brilliant source of fibre; once again, perfect for those no-bake treats and protein bites. A great opportunity to indulge something that is good for you and will make you feel good as well. Coconut flour shares many of the same nutritional values as almond flour, so you can count on it to make lots of items such as cakes, muffins, flatbreads and cookies.


Chickpea Flour

Another brilliant alternative to refined wheat flour is chickpea flour. The popular Asian and Middle Eastern ingredient known as the ‘Chickpea’ has a great texture when dried and ground down. It works well in sweet and savoury flatbreads and can even be used to thicken sauces and soups. Chickpeas when mixed with herbs and sauces holds a great flavour, making it perfect for cooking and baking.

As for health benefits, Chickpeas as an ingredient and as a flour base are far lower in calories and carbs compared to wheat. It is also rich in fibre and protein which is perfect for building and maintaining muscle. And that’s not even where it ends. Once turned into chickpea flour, it can also be used to make another alternate flour- gram flour. The pulse based ingredient is a staple in Indian and Caribbean cultures.



Cornstarch or Cornflour is made purely from corn and carbohydrates, which ticks the box for another gluten-free flour. In many ways cornstarch and other flours can be used interchangeably when using it in cakes, or as a batter for frying. So don’t be afraid of the lack of elements found in cornstarch.

However, it is important to note that cornstarch is the preferred flour to use in thickening most recipes that include sauces, soups, puddings, creams, and gravies. This is because of its large amount of starch properties; it has been said that cornstarch has twice the thickening power compared to your every day flours.

A final note on the corn based ingredient is the state it takes when fried. Unlike any of the other flours mentioned in this article cornstarch can take a deeply crunchy texture and golden colour, perfect for battering foods. With the lack of gluten and high amount of starch, this is another great multipurpose flour.



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