12 Best Flours to Bake With

Kitchen Knowledge Lifestyle | Published September 20, 2022 by Mimi Council

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Today I am sharing 12 Best Flours to Bake With. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different kinds of flour? Why are there so many flours, and why can’t you use just one kind? What are the best flours to bake with? This way you can stock your pantry with the best flours to bake with as we head into baking season!

If you're looking for more kitchen knowledge, check out some of my other posts like 5 Reasons to Grate Your Own Cheese, How to Remove Cakes Perfectly, or Why Chill Cookie Dough?

kamut flour

Flour helps baked goods rise, it gives them texture, and it also provides flavor. Specialty flours such as Rye Flour, Almond Flour, and more can provide a flavor that another flour just can’t. Some flours can even help dry out baked goods (sounds weird right, because who wants dry baked goods?) but that can be very helpful in certain recipes to obtain the best texture given the other ingredients. Coconut flour can do this as well as provide an amazing flavor.

Many flours are given their name based on their protein content and what that does in your baked goods. This is where it is super important to use the correct type of flour to get the texture that you expect from a certain recipe. For tender cakes, chewy cookies, and fluffy bread make sure you use the flour that the recipe calls for.

What is flour protein content?

Flour is made from wheat, and the proteins in wheat are called gluten-forming proteins. The amount of gluten-forming proteins are what determines what that flour does to your baked goods. There are different amounts of these gluten-forming proteins in all the different types of flour. So, not all flour is created equal!

These gluten-forming proteins play a major role in your baked goods. Flours with a higher protein content will make your baked goods chewy and sturdy – think crusty breads like sourdough. Flours with a lower protein content will make your baked goods tender and fluffy – like cakes and cupcakes.

Why is protein content important in flour?

Protein content in flour is important for baking because baking is really all about texture. Think about if you had a bread that was crumbly and not chewy – that wouldn’t be good. Or if you had a cake that was hard and dense instead of spongy and fluffy.

So, when a recipe calls for a specific type of flour, be sure to use that specific type of flour. Otherwise, you will get a different final product – one that probably doesn’t taste as good as it should!

So I am going to share a dozen different flours with you today. This list of the best flours to bake with will tell you what these flours are good for, and why you should keep them on hand in your pantry (or at least be able to run to the grocery store and pick up a bag if you need it for a recipe)!

This list of 12 Best Flours to Bake With includes my favorite flours to bake with. I’ll also share my favorite brands, so you know which ones have organic options and have been tested thoroughly by me!

All Purpose Flour

All purpose flour is your most standard flour. It’s used in everything from chocolate chip cookies, brownies, some cakes, breads, cinnamon rolls and more! It is most common in cakes where there is a fruit or vegetable that makes the cake very moist, such as carrot cake. The higher protein content in all purpose flour versus cake flour will help with structure when you have a cake that is very moist, such as carrot or zucchini.

If you notice that organic all purpose flour will be accompanied by unbleached, let me explain why. While all flour is bleached in some way, traditional conventional flour is bleached using chemicals to speed up aging. Alternatively, organic unbleached all purpose flour is bleached naturally as it ages. This is why it is important to buy organic unbleached all purpose flour.

What is the protein content of all purpose flour?

10 to 12% protein

What can all purpose flour be used for?

All purpose flour is best for cookies, brownies, pie crust, muffins, waffles, cinnamon rolls, carrot cakes, and more.

woman wearing a flour sweatshirt holding a plate of waffles in kitchen

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What is the best all purpose flour?

The best organic all purpose flour comes from Cairnspring Mills, Central Milling, King Arthur, Guisto’s, O Organics, or Bob’s Red Mill.

Bread Flour

Bread flour has a higher protein content than all purpose flour. It is most commonly used for yeast breads. Due to its higher protein content, bread flour makes dough more elastic which can result in a more chewy texture in your finished baked goods. Be sure to use bread flour if a recipe calls for it.

What is the protein content of bread flour?

12 to 14% protein

What can bread flour be used for?

Bread flour is best for sourdough, buns, bagels, pizza doughs, crusty breads, pretzels, and more.

What is the best bread flour?

The best organic bread flour comes from Cairnspring Mills, Central Milling, or King Arthur.

best flours to bake with

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a low protein flour, and it is milled into a very fine consistency. This combination of lower protein and very fine texture is what creates the light and fluffy texture that everyone loves about cake. There is no organic cake flour on the market right now, but King Arthur makes my favorite one that is Non GMO. You can also make Homemade Cake Flour!

What is the protein content of cake flour?

7 to 9% protein

What can cake flour be used for?

Cake flour is good for layer cakes, pound cakes, sheet cakes, cupcakes, sponge cakes, muffins, and more.

What is the best cake flour?

King Arthur makes the best cake flour for baking. While it is not organic, it is Non GMO and it's the best one on the market right now. You can also make your own Homemade Cake Flour using organic ingredients!

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour is a fine flour made from soft white wheat and soft red wheat. This is a lower protein content flour, which provides a soft texture or light crumb. It is used in pastries like croissants and puff pastry. Pastry flour and cake flour have a very similar protein content, and you can also use pastry flour in cakes as well if a recipe calls for cake flour but you can’t find it.

What is the protein content of pastry flour?

8% protein

What can pastry flour be used for?

Pastry flour is good for pastries such as croissants, puff pastry, donuts, biscuits, cakes, and more.

What is the best pastry flour?

Guisto’s makes the best organic pastry flour.

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour is a high protein flour. This flour also provides a very hearty and distinct flavor – most of you can probably tell when something is whole wheat flavored! You can use whole wheat flour in some cookie recipes or cinnamon rolls, like my Healthy Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls. It can also be used to make breads, crackers, or waffles.

What is the protein content of whole wheat flour?

13 to 14% protein

What can whole wheat flour be used for?

Whole wheat flour is good for: whole wheat breads, crackers, tortillas, cookies, waffles, pancakes, and more.

What is the best whole wheat flour?

The best organic whole wheat flour comes from either Central Milling, King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, or Guisto’s.

sourdough discard whole wheat sandwich bread

White Whole Wheat Flour

White whole wheat flour is a type of whole wheat flour. The name may be confusing as it may seem that it is a blend of whole wheat and white flour or that it is bleached whole wheat flour. But, neither of these are true. White whole wheat is milled the same way whole wheat flour is, but it just comes from different wheat berries. While whole wheat flour usually comes from red wheat berries, white whole wheat flour comes from hard white wheat berries which are sweeter! You can use white whole wheat flour interchangeably with whole wheat flour, but the taste will be different.

What is the protein content of white whole wheat flour?

13 to 14% protein

What can white whole wheat flour be used for?

White whole wheat flour is good for cookies, waffles, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and more.

What is the best white whole wheat flour?

King Arthur makes the best organic white whole wheat flour.

00 Flour

00 flour is a specialty flour that is most commonly used to make pizza dough and pasta. It hails from Italy, and the 00 stands for the size of the grind. In Europe, mills or grinds can range from 00 to 2, with 00 being the finest grind. 00 flour is made from Durum wheat, which has a high protein content so that means that the gluten formation is strong. This is one of the reasons why it makes amazing pizza dough! And some people even call this pizza flour. The protein content is very similar to all purpose, so you could substitute that in a pinch but I really think that this flour makes a big difference. I have even used it to make cookies and brownies before!

What is the protein content of 00 flour?

11 to 12.5% protein

What can 00 flour be used for?

00 flour is used for pizza dough, pasta, cookies, brownies, and more.

What is the best 00 flour?

Guisto’s makes the best organic 00 flour.

thin crust pepperoni pizza

Kamut Flour

Kamut flour is one of my favorite specialty flours to use. Its flavor is unmatchable with any other type of flour and it lends a sweet, nuttiness to baked goods that will just make you wonder what that flavor is! I love using it in cookies.

Kamut flour is made from Khorasan wheat, which is an ancient grain. This ancient grain is an amber wheat and is closely related to durum wheat. Kamut is the only brand that guarantees the preservation of this ancient strain of wheat. Kamut flour is also higher in protein than traditional wheat, coming in up to 40% more!

What can Kamut flour be used for?

Kamut flour is good for cookies, pastries, biscotti, bars, and more. Try my Kamut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies, it's one of the top recipes on my site!

What is the best Kamut flour?

Food to Live makes the best organic Kamut flour that I have used yet.

kamut flour biscotti

Rye Flour

Rye flour is made from rye berries, which are also sometimes called rye kernels. While everyone knows that rye flour is used in rye bread, it can also be used in other baked goods to provide a distinct flavor. Try my Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies! Rye flour is known as a healthier flour option because it is high in fiber, iron, B vitamins and more. Plus, rye flour provides an amazing flavor in baked goods – this is why I love it.   

What can rye flour be used for?

Rye flour is good for breads, cookies, sourdough, crackers, scones, and more.

What is the best rye flour?

King Arthur and Central Milling make the best organic rye flour.

rye chocolate chip cookies

Self Rising Flour

Self rising flour is just flour with baking powder and salt already added to it. Baking powder is a leavening agent, which makes baked goods rise. So, adding this to flour is where this flour got its name (I think, haha). Self rising flour is common in Southern baked goods, and it's important to use it when a recipe calls for it, as it has added leavening that is needed in the recipe.

What can self rising flour be used for?

Self rising flour is most commonly used for biscuits and sponge cakes.

What is the best self rising flour?

There is no organic self rising flour on the market, but you can make your own self rising flour very easily with my Homemade Self Rising Flour recipe.

how to make self rising flour

Almond Flour

Almond flour is made from grinding blanched almonds. It is a tan colored flour that can be used in many ways that all purpose flour is used. Though, it doesn’t have gluten-forming proteins, so it won’t act the same as far as creating chewy texture and helping baked goods rise. I like to use almond flour in cookies, brownies, and biscotti. You can even make your own almond flour by grinding blanched slivered almonds in a food processor until fine.

What can almond flour be used for?

Almond flour can be used for cookies, brownies, bars, biscotti, scones, French macarons, and more.

What is the best almond flour?

The best organic almond flour can be bought from Food to Live or Terrasoul Superfoods.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a specialty flour that provides a sweet coconut flavor to baked goods. This flour is very drying and it cannot be substituted for any other type of flour because it does not act the same way as anything else. I use coconut flour sparingly in addition to other types of flours in cookies and coffee cakes.

What can coconut flour be used for?

Coconut flour can be used for cookies, cakes, muffins, scones, and more.

What is the best coconut flour?

The best organic coconut flour is Bob’s Red Mill, Food to Live, or Arrowhead Mills.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, the type of flour that a recipe calls for is incredibly important. Different flours have different protein contents and this can drastically affect baked goods. Be sure to use the flour that the recipe calls for.

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