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What is the difference between whole-wheat,
whole-wheat pastry, white-wheat, all-purpose, bread,
and pastry flours? Are all of them vegan, and are they
interchangeable in recipes?
Whole-wheat flour contains the bran
(the fibrous outer layer) and the germ (the part that
sprouts) of the whole-wheat berry. Therefore it has
a higher nutritional, fiber, and fat profile than white
flours, which have had both the bran and germ removed,
and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer
to prevent rancidity. The texture of whole-wheat flour
can range from soft and powdery to coarse, depending
on the amount of bolting (sifting) it receives at the
mill. Bolting removes some of the coarse bran, making
the flour finer.
Bleached white flours not only have
had the bran and germ removed, taking with it essential
vitamins and nutrients, they have been "whitened." White
flour can be bleached naturally, as it ages, or it can
be bleached chemically. Potassium bromate, a chemical
used as an oxidizing agent and also used to enhance
baking characteristics, has been added regularly to
some white flours for a long time. Potassium bromate
has been banned in Europe, Japan, and Canada. In California,
flours containing this chemical must carry a label warning
of its potential as a carcinogen. Unbleached white flours
also have had their natural bran and germ removed but
they have not undergone a bleaching process. These flours
retain more of the natural warm, golden color of wheat
than snowy-white bleached flours.
All-purpose flours are a blend of high-gluten
hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat and may be used,
as the name implies, for all purposes, from thickening
sauces and soups to making pastries and yeast bread.
Depending on the recipe, however, some baked goods made
with all purpose flour may provide less than satisfactory
Pastry flour (white or whole-wheat)
is made from soft winter wheat, which has a higher starch
and lower gluten content. Pastry flour produces the
finest, most tender pie crusts and pastries, biscuits,
muffins, and scones. Whole-wheat pastry flour is more
nutritious than white flour, but it can make baked goods
seem heavy and crumbly. Also, since most conventional
pastry recipes call for white flour, when you substitute
whole-wheat pastry flour you may discover that you need
to adjust the quantity of liquid used. Many people who
are accustomed to a refined diet but want to adopt a
more wholesome way of eating find that using a mixture
of half unbleached white flour (pastry or all-purpose)
and half whole-wheat pastry flour in their recipes makes
their pastries and non-yeasted baked goods lighter and
more palatable than if only whole-wheat flour was used.
White whole-wheat flour is milled from
hard white winter wheat, a new and exciting variety.
It does not have the strong flavor and dark color of
traditional whole-wheat flour but, since it includes
the entire wheat berry, it contains the fiber-rich bran
and mineral-rich germ. Substitute white whole-wheat
flour for all-purpose or pastry flour in your cookie,
muffin, cake, brownie, pancake, and quick-bread recipes,
or try it in whole-wheat yeast bread for a lighter-colored,
Bread flour - white or whole-wheat -
is made from high-protein, hard red spring wheat. The
extra gluten (protein) in this flour means yeast bread
will rise more strongly and vigorously. Do not substitute
pastry flour for bread flour in yeast bread recipes.
Conversely, do not substitute bread flour for all-purpose
or pastry flour in non-yeasted baked goods. Be aware
that different flours will contain varying amounts of
moisture depending on the type of flour, its age, and
how it was stored. Therefore, you may need to adjust
the amount of liquid needed in your recipes.
Although some flours are more nutritious
than others, all flours are considered vegan.
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