The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Understanding Flour

StuartG's picture

Understanding Flour

Hi All,

After reading the Tartine recipe I couldn't work out if my understanding of flours was right.

This recipe calls for

100 grams white all-purpose flour

100 grams whole wheat flour

650 grams whole grain wheat flour

350 grams sifted white wheat flour

Are these really all different types of flour?  Where I am in Denmark, I have access to what I consider 'generic organic white flour' (about 10% protien), and access to 'bakers flour' (non-organic, about 12% protien) and 'fuldkorn' which looks mostly like  entire wheat kernels shorn in half.  There's also regular cheap bleached flour and the other specialty flours - OO, Spelt/Graham, rye.

If someone has the time, can you write a line or two about what each of the flours in the Tartine recipe look like, or are characterized by, so I can give it a try?  Using Wiki to learn about flour types sends you in a circle as the flours seem to endlessly reference each other.

Thanks very much,


pmccool's picture

I'd be willing to make an educated guess.

The white all-purpose flour sold in the U.S. is milled from the endosperm of the kernels and does not contain any of the germ or the bran.  Some are aged to achieve a natural near-white color (labeled as unbleached).  Others use bleaching agents to achieve a greater degree of whiteness.  Protein levels are variable, ranging from a low of around 9.5% to a high of around 12.5%, depending on the miller and the grain source.  Most are in the neighborhood of 10%.

Whole wheat flour, as the name suggests, is flour ground from the entire wheat kernel: bran, germ, and endosperm.  Much of what is labeled as whole wheat in the U.S. is de-germed, too, since the oils in the germ tend to go rancid, compromising the shelf-life of the product.  The "whole grain wheat flour" mentioned in the formula should be exactly the same as the "whole wheat flour".  Not sure why there is a difference in the terminology of the forumla, but it is the same stuff.

The white wheat flour is usually a whole wheat flour, too.  The difference is that the "white" strains of wheat have a lighter color than their more traditional "red" brethern, due primarily to a lower tannin content in the bran.  Consequently, white wheat tends have less of the bitter or "grassy" flavor notes which some people find objectionable in whole wheat flours.  I can't say with confidence that this is what Mr. Robertson intends, but that is usually what other bakers mean when they use this terminology.

I hope that helps.