Choosing The Right Flour

Global flour market is expected to reach USD 270,895 million by 2022 at a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period 2016 to 2022.

Wheat is the most widely produced cereal in the world. Multiple varieties of flour are used as an ingredient in the making of bread, bakery items and corn-based coating of fried food and fast food. In fast food restaurants, the consumption of flour is high as they serve food items such as donuts, burgers, cakes and fried meat. Flour has been segmented on the basis of product types which mainly include whole-wheat, whole-meal, all-purpose, self-raising, semolina, bread, cake and rice flour1,4,10.

Types and Functions of Flours

Whole-Wheat Flour

  • Course-textured flour made by grinding the entire grain or wheat kernel which consists of endosperm, bran and germ
  • Often produces heavier and denser baked products especially bread, compared to all-purpose or bread flours as the bran can interfere with the development of gluten formation matrix in the dough
  • Comprises rich source of functional ingredients such as fibre, phytochemicals, minerals and essential amino acids that are located in the bran and fat soluble vitamins contained in the germ of the whole wheat grain
  • Unique among cereals due to its ability to form a three-dimensional structure when mixed with water where it becomes most important structural component for baking bread (Chowdhury, 2018; Kurek et al., 2015; Ngozi, 2014; & Kumar, 2011)

Whole-Meal Flour

  • Contain 100% of whole-wheat grain, making it consistent in volume and crumb structure. They are also light brown in colour
  • Stone-ground flour is whole-meal flour with the highest quality of whole-meal as it is produced with heat generation during the milling process to produce a greater flavour
  • Stone-ground whole-meal flour generally contains more vitamins, minerals, fats and fiber than regular whole-meal flour because it retains a higher percentage of bran and germ (Chowdhury, 2018 ; Nakov et al., 2018)

All-Purpose Flour

  • Made up from finely ground endosperm of wheat kernel separated from bran and germ during the milling process
  • Consist of refined blend of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat that are used for baking, thickening, yeast breads, cakes, cookies, pastries and noodles
  • Has a medium balance of starch and protein so that it can be used in a wide variety of products without being too heavy or delicate
  • Often bleached to give it a clean, white appearance also enriched to include nutrients e.g. calcium and vitamins that are lost due to the removal of the germ and bran
  • Enriched all-purpose flour type has iron and B-vitamins added in amounts equal to or more than the whole-wheat flour while the bleached enriched all-purpose flour type is treated with chlorine to mature the flour, condition the gluten and improve the baking quality
  • Unbleached enriched all-purpose flour is bleached with oxygen in the air during the aging process to produce the off-white colour
  • Nutritionally, bleached and unbleached flour are just equivalent (Chowdhury, 2018 & Kumar et al., 2011)

Self-Raising Flour

  • Medium strength flour that has chemical agents blended with it
  • Contains baking powder and sodium chloride which are prepared from all-purpose wheat flour or low-protein wheat flour
  • The reaction of the chemical agents will produce carbon dioxide and make the dough expand and become porous.
  • Mainly used to bake biscuits, cakes, quick breads and other soft-crumb products but should never be used to make yeast breads (Chowdhury, 2018; Ma & Baik, 2018; Kumar et al., 2011)

Bread Flour

  • Generally milled from the endosperm of the wheat kernel or soft wheat making a fine-textured refined flour which usually used for commercial bakers but is also available at retail outlets
  • Has greater gluten strength, high in starch compared to all-purpose flour
  • Contains higher ratio of protein to carbohydrates than all-purpose flour, which produces stronger dough
  • The strong gluten matrix provides structure to rising dough and gives the end product a nice, chewy texture
  • Generally used for yeast breads, tender cakes and pastries (Chowdhury, 2018 & Kumar et al., 2011)

Cake Flour

  • Low in protein and gluten which are granulated from soft wheat and milled to a finer texture making less protein than all-purpose flour
  • Deliver a softer and more delicate crumb
  • Often undergo bleached treatment to improve its appearance
  • Suitable for cakes, cookies, crackers and pastries (Chowdhury, 2018 ; Kumar et al., 2011)

Semolina Flour

  • Made up from coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat that consists of complex carbohydrate and protein
  • Durum wheat contains high protein content, giving it a very dense and chewy texture that enables it to produce a cohesive adhesive film and lower oxygen and water vapor permeability (WVP)
  • An extra-hard, translucent and light-colored grain that exhibits antioxidant activity which most often used in high quality pasta products (Chowdhury, 2018, Jafarzadeh et al., 2018 & Kumar et al., 2011)

Rice Flour

  • Made up from fine milling grains of rice (Oryza sativa, L.) and can be found in both white (endosperm only) and brown (whole grain) varieties
  • It includes a small amount of water (about 8%), fat (about 1%) and ash (about 1%)
  • Lighter texture compared to wheat flours and is a popular choice among those who are intolerant to gluten.
  • Good nutritional value with a relatively low allergenic effect, low sodium content and high digestibility
  • Starch in the rice flour (Rice Starch) can be used in meat industry with its unique gelatinization properties and binding capacity which can retain water during the cooking process and subsequent improve the shelf-life as well as deliver the desired texture
  • Can be used as processing aids, ingredients in health food, expanding agents in extrusion food, flavour carriers, emulsifiers and fat replacers in food products. (Chowdhury, 2018 & Pereira et al., 2016)


1Allied Market Research. (2020). Flour Market by Raw Material (Wheat, Rice, Maize, and Others), Application (Bread & Bakery Products; Noodles & Pasta; Animal Feed; Wafers, Crackers, & Biscuits; Non-Food Application; and Others), Technology (Dry Technology and Wet Technology) – Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014-2022. Industry Report.

2Chowdhury, R. (2018). Flour-the integral part of balance diet-exploratory study on cereals products. International Journal of Engineering and Management Research, 8(3), 208-214.

3Curti, E., Eleonora Carini, E., & Vittadini, E. (2016). Staling and water dynamics in high‑gluten bread. European Food Research and Technology, 243, 1173-1182.

4Imarcgroup. (2020). Wheat Flour Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2020-2025. Industry Report

5Jafarzadeh, S., Alias, A. K., Ariffin, F., & Mahmud, S. (2018). Physico-mechanical and microstructural properties of semolina flour films as influenced by different sorbitol/glycerol concentrations. International Journal of Food Properties, 21(1), 983-995.

6Jan, U., Gani, A., Ahmad, M., Shah, U., Baba, W. N., Masoodi, F. A., Wani, S. M. (2015). Characterization of cookies made from wheat flour blended with buckwheat flour and effect on antioxidant properties. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(10), 6334-6344. 

7Kumar, P., Yadava, R. K., Gollen, B., Kumar, S., Verma, R. K., & Yadav, S. (2011). Nutritional contents and medicinal properties of wheat: A review. Life Sciences and Medicine Research, 22, 1-9.

8Kurek, M. A., Wyrwisz, J., Piwinska, M., & Wierzbicka, A. (2015). Influence of the wheat flour extraction degree in the quality of bread made with high proportions of B-glucan. Food Science and Technology, 35(2), 273-278.

9Ma, F., & Baik, B. (2018). Soft wheat quality characteristics required for making baking powder biscuits. Journal of Cereal Science, 79, 127-133.

10Market and Researchbiz. (2020). Global Wheat Flour Market 2020 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2026. Industry Report.

11Mentzer, A. P. (2018). Whole Wheat vs. Durum Wheat vs. Stone Ground. Retrieved from,fiber%20and%20nutrients%2C%20including%20fats.&text=Stone%2Dground%20wheat%20flour%20generally,percentage%20of%20bran%20and%20germ.

12Nakov, G., Brandolini, A., Ivanova, N., Dimov, I., & Stamatovska, V. (2018). The effect of einkorn (Triticum monococcum L.) whole meal flour addition on physico-chemical characteristics, biological active compounds and in vitro starch digestion of cookies. Journal of Cereal Science, 83, 116-112.

13Ngozi, A. A. (2014). Effect of whole wheat flour on the quality of wheat-baked bread. Global Journal of Food Science Technology, 2(3), 127-133.

14Pereira, J., Zhou, G., & Zhang, W. (2016). Effects of rice flour on emulsion stability, organoleptic characteristics and thermal rheology of emulsified sausage. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 4(4), 216-222.

15Rana, R., Tricase, C., Padalino, L., Mastromatteo, M., Nobile, M. D., & Conte, A. (2014). Milling process of cereal grains and quality of flours. International Journal of Sciences. 3(4).