Photo by Becca Sabot
‘Tis the season for baking, and flour is more than an ingredient around here, it nearly paved the city streets on which we walk. But the flour of our heritage is only a part of the story being told on shelves today. Our interest in different foods, cultural traditions, and health benefits has driven the milling industry to offer different flours to fit your needs.
Sorghum flour is packed with nutrition—namely protein, iron, and fiber—and it’s also gluten-free. It’s a staple in Indian and African cooking, and is smoother and more elegant than rice flour, making it great in cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads.
Coconut flour is a natural by-product of coconut milk production. This grain-free flour made from dried coconut meat is soft, fine, and popular with the paleo set. You cannot substitute it cup for cup with regular flour, as it is very absorbent and a bit tricky to work with.
Wondra flour is a version of all-purpose flour. This “instant” flour has been finely ground and naturally processed to be fast dissolving, making your gravies and sauces smooth as silk. It’s been around since 1963 and often appears in church basement heritage cookbooks by name.
Almond flour/meal comes from grinding almonds into a fine powder. This high-protein meal adds a lot of flavor, nuttiness, and texture to baked goods if you sub it for one-quarter of the flour. Use it as an alternative for breadcrumb coatings.
Plantain flour is very popular at the moment, and is grain-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. It’s made from dehydrating plantains (those banana-like fruits). It can generally be subbed cup for cup, but it does have a fruity taste, so baked goods are best.
Gram flour, also known as chickpea/garbanzo bean flour, can be found in Indian markets. When mixed with an equal amount of water, this high-protein flour can be used to replace eggs in recipes.
Cake flour is basically low-protein flour from soft winter wheat that has been finely ground and bleached with chlorine, giving it higher acidity and better absorption. This leads to a quickly setting cake with a finer crumb, but also softer cookies.