1. Pastry Flour
You must have come across this term in your favorite baking recipes cookbook. This flour is made from soft wheat, which makes it have a finer texture than the famous all-purpose flour.
Pastry flours make the perfect dough for pies, muffins, cookies, tart crusts. It is a definite recommendation when you want to achieve a "tender but yet, crumbly" pastry.
Tip: When you can't get pastry flour at the supermarket, mix a 2-to-1 ratio of all-purpose to cake flours to obtain flour with qualities as close to it as possible.
2. Cake Flour
These are made from soft wheat and so have a silky smooth feel that makes them perfect for cake batters. It has low protein content, which ensures a fluffy cake.
It also bleached, which indicates that it is acidic. It is this acidity that helps cakes — and other sweet baked goods — rise instead of collapsing.
Overall, this flour is best for making cakes but not for bread. To improvise for cake flour, add two tablespoons of cornstarch to a cup of all-purpose.
3. Bread Flour
This flour is best for bread and other baked products that require yeast. According to Berkeley Wellness, this flour is made from hard wheat.
This gives it a high protein content, which helps the bread rise more when used. The chemistry of this is that the gluten traps and holds air bubbles as you mix and knead the dough.
Make your bread flour by pouring in a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten into just enough all-purpose flour.
4. Whole Wheat Flour
This flour is highly nutritious and contains dietary fibers known to aid digestion. It is, however, a bit tricky to use and not recommended for the novice baker.
When you use this flour, it will require more liquid because it is more absorbent than the typical white flour. It also makes a very sticky batter, which can end up causing frustration if you're not an expert.
5. Self-rising Flour
Next up is self-rising flour, which is best used for quick recipes like that for biscuits, pancakes, or cornbread.
This kind of flour is a unique mix of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. There are packaged self-rising flours ready to go in supermarkets.
If you can't find it, do it yourself! Mix 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon fine salt.
6. Oat Flour
Oat flour is made from ground oats. It is very fine and creates an equally fluffy texture when used. If that isn't enough to convince you, this flour has a naturally sweet taste that draws many to it.
Also, if you are on a gluten-free diet, the oat flour is perfect for you. However, when you use it, make sure to add an adequate amount of water. If not, it may leave the product crumbly and very tough.
Make oat flour yourself by grinding dried oats until they become a fine powder.
7. White whole wheat flour
Make your homemade bread healthy by choosing this flour instead of the all-purpose. It is made from a paler kind of wheat and is a bit sweeter than the typical whole wheat because its tannin content is much lower.
8. All-purpose flour
The final mention on this list is the all-purpose flour. Much like its name hints at, this flour can be used to prepare any baked product, which is why it is widely labeled "safe."
If you are new to baking, then it is best to use all-purpose flour. As you gain experience over time, try to experiment with the other flour varieties. It is sure to be fun!