I had to know what each one meant! Basically not to drive you too crazy, or give you too much detail, I broke it down in the simplest terms I could find. It really all came about for me because I wanted to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. One that my kids approved of because, really, that’s who my biggest fans are and I am to please!
All-Purpose flour is just that. You can really use it for just about any recipe and as a beginner can’t go wrong using this flour. I only used this for many, many years and felt good about it…but then I started to explore!
Cake Flour– obviously great for cakes! It has less protein and the least amount of gluten out of all the flours. It may be bleached, which is why it will seem the whitest out of all the flours. I use King Arthur’s brand & they do not bleach. It leads to a lighter composition of cake. Use when making your cakes. Note the slight adjustment on your box. You will be astounded at how moist your cakes will turn out!
Pastry flour– has less protein than AP flour which leads to a more flaky creation. You can use this alone for biscuits, scones, muffins, cupcakes or even pancakes. Use with other flours for cookies.
Bread flour– Has the highest protein content, which gives a denser quality product, yet can give you the moistness you are looking for when used in combination with other flours. This can give you a chewier texture to your cookies. This is most definitely used when baking bread.
Self-rising flour– this is called “self-rising” because baking powder has been already added to the flour. When a recipe calls for this make sure you know whether or not to add more flour.
Newish to the scene: Gluten-free flour. You have to note whether or not you need to add a xanthium gum to your baking needs with this- this seems like a lot of work to perFECT, which is why I prefer Cup4Cup flour. They already did the hard work for you and um, let’s see The French Laundry people made it, so that’s pretty much all I need to know. They kinda know what they are doing. I bow to them!
Hope that helped. Now get baking, we only have 9 more days left!
I didn’t get into the gluten flours because there is a whole range, but follow this link, she does an incredible job explaining all the basics. http://www.beardandbonnet.com/the-beginners-guide-to-gluten-free-flours/