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Chemistry LibreTexts

2: Flour

  • Page ID
    • 2.1: Introduction - Understanding Ingredients
      Ingredients play an important role in baking. Not only do they provide the structure and flavour of all of the products produced in the bakery or pastry shop, their composition and how they react and behave in relation to each other are critical factors in understanding the science of baking. This is perhaps most evident when it comes to adapting formulas and recipes to accommodate additional or replacement ingredients while still seeking a similar outcome to the original recipe.
    • 2.2: The History of Wheat Flour
      Archaeologists who did excavations in the region of the lake dwellers of Switzerland found grains of wheat, millet, and rye 10,000 years old. The Romans perfected the rotary mill for turning wheat into flour. By the time of Christ, Rome had more than 300 bakeries, and Roman legions introduced wheat throughout their empire
    • 2.3: Milling of Wheat
      Milling of wheat is the process that turns whole grains into flours. The overall aims of the miller are to produce: A consistent product A range of flours suitable for a variety of functions Flours with predictable performance
    • 2.4: Flour Streams and Types of Wheat Flour
      Modern milling procedures produce many different flour streams (approximately 25) that vary in quality and chemical analysis. These are combined into four basic streams of edible flour, with four other streams going to feed.
    • 2.5: 27-Flour Terms and Treatments
      In addition to types of flour, you may come across various other terms when purchasing flour. These include some terms that refer to the processing and treatment of the flour, and others outlining some of the additives that may be added during the milling and refining process.
    • 2.6: Flour Additives
      A number of additives may be found in commercial flours, from agents used as dough conditioners, to others that aid in the fermentation process. Why use so many additives? Many of these products are complementary – that is, they work more effectively together and the end product is as close to “ideal” as possible.
    • 2.7: Whole Grain and Artisan Milling
      Whole grain and artisan milling is the type of milling that was practiced before the consumer market demanded smooth white flours that are refined and have chemical additives to expedite aging of flours. Artisan milling produces flours that are less refined and better suited to traditional breads, but also contain little to no additives and have higher nutritional content.
    • 2.8: Flour in Baking
      Flour forms the foundation for bread, cakes, and pastries. It may be described as the skeleton, which supports the other ingredients in a baked product. This applies to both yeast and chemically leavened products.
    • 2.9: Rye Flour
      Rye is a hardy cereal grass cultivated for its grain. Its use by humans can be traced back over 2,000 years. Once a staple food in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, rye declined in popularity as wheat became more available through world trade. A crop well suited to northern climates, rye is grown on the Canadian Prairies and in the northern states such as the Dakotas and Wisconsin.
    • 2.10: Other Grains and Flours
      Several other types of grains are commonly used in baking. In particular, corn and oats feature predominantly in certain types of baking (quick breads and cookies respectively, for instance) but increasingly rice flour is being used in baked goods, particularly for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances. The trend to whole grains and the influence of different ethnic cultures has also meant the increase in the use of other grains and pulses for flours used in breads.

    Thumbnail: All-purpose flour. (CC BY-SA 2.0;

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez (American University). Chemistry of Cooking by Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted