The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What's the diff?

whitedaisy's picture

What's the diff?

My local mill offers "turkey red wheat" and "hard white wheat." Does anyone know the difference?
And what is the diff between hard and soft flour?

Floydm's picture

That is a good question. Hard flour is higher in protein and typically used in bread baking; soft flour is lower in protein in use in cakes and such. All purpose flour, as is typically found in the grocery stores in the US, is somewhere down the middle, and is adequate for most uses though perhaps not the best choice for some specific situations.

As far as "turkey red wheat" vs. "hard white wheat" go, they are particular classes of wheat. There are winter wheats, summer wheats, red wheats and white wheats, among others. Each has its own characteristics. I don't know enough about them to suggest which to use in what type of loaf, but I imagine it would be fun to experiment with the different types to see if you can distinguish the differences.

I would also suggest looking at the nutritional information and comparing the grams of protein in a given amount. If I were baking a French bread I'd grab the higher protein flour (though I believe I've been told that American wheat is often harder than European), a cake the lower protein one. I'm also sure that, being that you are fortunate enough to live near a mill, someone there could give you helpful information.

The Wikipedia articles on flour and wheat have some interesting information on this topic.

SourdoLady's picture

White wheat is lighter in color and milder in flavor than red wheat. Red wheat is the darker wheat that is commonly known as 'whole wheat' even though the white is also whole wheat. I love the white whole wheat. I use it in my white bread, about 1/2 cup, along with unbleached white flour and you can't even tell it's in there. It does give the bread a better flavor, though.

Srishti's picture

Forgive me if this is a non-sensical question...

But what is the difference between White Whole Wheat and Whole Wheat pastry flour?

I believe the pastry version is super low in gluten and can't very well be used for breads?

What's this White WW though?

Thanks again to you all


JMonkey's picture

Yes, pastry flour is made from soft wheat, which has a much lower protein content and is generally not strong enough to make yeasted breads. But, because it has so little gluten, it's perfect for making tender quick breads -- the gluten doesn't develop and so it doesn't get tough.


Hard wheat has a high protein content, and so is usually used for bread. The main difference between red and white wheats (which can, in turn, be either hard or soft) is that white wheat lacks the tannins and phenolic acid that give red wheat its red color and also give it a bitter flavor that some people dislike. Personally, I find that I like the taste, and also think that the bitterness that most people dislike in whole wheat breads actually comes from the use of rancid flour. Whole wheat flour, because it contains the oily germ, will go rancid after a period of time (how long? I dunno -- I've read everything from a few weeks to six months).


For quickbreads, I like to use soft white wheat, otherwise known as pastry flour. I don't want any bitterness at all in quickbreads, and that flour does the trick.

Srishti's picture

Thanks JMonkey,

I too love the taste of Whole Wheat. I don't find it bitter.... Last year we were grinding everything fresh, this year we are getting some freshly ground flour from our local health food store, which is really good as well, (had to get rid of the stone grinder because we made a big move from CA to WA, but I want to buy another one as soon as the finances allow it.)

Whenever we had to buy pakaged Whole Wheat flour from a grocery store.... it always was Weird and bad tasting. I think, as you said, that could be the bitterness that people don't like in the WW breads... caused by it going rancid...

I personally hate the White, except occasionally. Just don't physically feel good on it.

Thanks a lot


JMonkey's picture

Yeah, I grind my own as well. Sounds crazy, but when you bake 2-3 loaves of whole wheat bread every week, it's cheaper in the long run as well as tastier. I can get wheat berries for less than half the cost of whole wheat flour, and the berries keep for years. And rye -- well, there's no substitute for fresh rye. That stuff goes rancid super quick, and the flavor difference between freshly ground and store-bought rye flour is like night and day.


It also makes a big difference for corn. Freshly ground cornmeal is very sweet, with no bitterness at all. Yum.


The grinder wasn't cheap, but it didn't cost any more than a good stand mixer, and I don't own one of those. So I figured it wasn't all that crazy after all. ;-)