Is Plain Flour and All-Purpose Flour The Same Thing?
During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, many people discovered the joys of baking due to the fact that they suddenly had a lot of unexpected additional time on their hands. For anyone who has ever been bitten by the baking or cooking bug, one of the first things that most people do is look up recipes on the internet or buy a cookery or baking book.
If that book or website is American, then one of the key ingredients is likely to be All-Purpose Flour. This could potentially cause a lot of confusion when you pop down to your local supermarket because the term All-Purpose Flour is actually American. In the UK, All-Purpose Flour actually means Plain Flour.
There are many different types of flour, plain flour contains no raising agents and is the most commonly used flour in the United Kingdom. One of the key benefits of this type of flour is that it contains less gluten than bread flour, which means that the resulting dough that it makes is not as strong but significantly more stretchy. It is also a very versatile flour equally perfect as an ingredient for making cakes, biscuits, pastry or coating meats.
What Are The Primary Ingredients of All-Purpose?
All-Purpose or plain flour is created by a milling process which mixes a combination of hard and soft wheat. By law, in the United Kingdom additional nutrients are then added so that the flour contains a core level of nutrition. This is called fortification of the flour and includes calcium, iron and the B vitamins niacin and thiamine. Flour also contains between 9% - 14% of protein.
What are the different types of Flour?
There are a range of different types of flour, with the main differences being the type of wheat grain used and the amount of protein content. Flour made from high-protein wheat varieties (which have anywhere between 10 to 14 percent protein content, is often referred to as hard wheat.
Alternatively flour which was made from low-protein wheat varieties (anywhere between 5 to 10 percent protein content) is called soft wheat. Once you know these key facts it means that you can make an educated decision between hard and soft wheat as your bread flour of choice.
Choose a higher protein flour if you are baking a chewy or crusty bread. Alternatively choose a flour with less protein if you are baking a product such as pie crusts, cakes, or cookies.
I Don't Have Any Self-Raising Flour Can I Use All-Purpose as an Alternative?
The good news is that, as explained above, plain flour is an all-purpose flour which means that it can be used if the recipe you are trying to follow recommends self-raising flour as an ingredient. However, you will need to add an alternative raising agent to replace the self-raising aspect, with baking powder being the preferred option. If you choose to go down this route, then it is really important to ensure that the baking powder is mixed properly with the plain flour.
What Type of Products Contain All-Purpose Flour As a Primary Ingredient?
There are very few baked products that do not use plain or all-purpose flour. Some of the most popular examples include biscuits, bread, pizza bases and even flaky pie crusts. It is also a popular thickening agent for sauces, gravies and soups.
Why Was All-Purpose Flour Created?
Flour comes in a range of different strengths, which can be used for a range of different purposes. Although such a broad range of flours is advantageous in a commercial setting, home bakers do not necessarily have the storage or even the need to purchase all of the different combinations. As the name suggests, all-purpose is a one-size-fits-all type of flour that is an excellent choice for most baking projects.
It also benefits from a relatively long shelf-life which is perfect for people who do not bake regularly. It is inexpensive to buy and comes in convenient, easy to carry and store sizes. Nelstrops take pride in the quality of their plain flour product. Click here to buy yours today >