Types of Wheat and Its Flours

The following types of wheat are classified based primarily on color, hardness of the kernel, and time of year the wheat is planted.

  • Hard red winter
  • Soft red winter
  • Hard red spring
  • Hard white
  • Soft white
  • Durum

Generally, flours that are milled from hard wheat have high quality gluten and are considered strong.

Due to the difference in quality among many types of wheat, millers typically blend flours to achieve a consistent product time after time. Readily available to most home bakers, all purpose flour is actually a blend of hard and soft wheat flours.

Regardless of the type of wheat, milling the endosperm of wheat berries or kernels yields white flour. This process also removes so much natural nutrients and vitamins that subsequent enrichment can never completely replace them. Therefore, enriched white bread is by no means nutritionally equal to whole wheat bread.

In addition, “wheat bread” on the label does not mean that it is made from whole wheat flour. It is just to distinguish the bread from those made from other types of grains.

Breads made from whole wheat flour should normally have “whole” or “100 percent whole” before the term “wheat bread”.

Compared to whole wheat flour, white flour

  • Has a longer shelf life
  • Contains more gluten proteins per weight
  • Is more digestible

To produce whole wheat flour, the entire wheat kernels that include the fibrous bran, nutritious and fatty embryo or germ, and the starchy endosperm are ground uniformly.

Although whole wheat flour and graham flour are often used interchangeably, there is a minor physical difference. In the milling of graham flour, the outermost part of the wheat berries(bran) is not as finely ground as the germ and endosperm.

Finally, all flours tend to lose moisture during storage. Moisture content also varies by brands and seasons. Therefore, as home bakers of breads, cakes, and cookies, we may sometimes need to adjust the amount of flour used in a particular recipe. This is to maintain a desirable flour to liquid ratio.

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