All-Purpose Flour, Italian 00 Flour, Bread Flour, Pastry Flour, Cake Flour, Gluten Free Flour…What’s the Difference?

All-Purpose flour, Italian 00 flour, bread flour, pastry flour, cake flour, gluten free flour…if you love to cook I’m sure you’ve heard of all these types of flour. There are so many, but what’s the difference between them?

When do we choose an all-purpose flour or a 00 flour? Pastry or cake flour? How all these flours differ from each other?

Honestly I did not tried them all, but it seems that each flour will behave differently when stretching into a circle, and specific types are best for specific styles of crust.

Before understanding the difference between all these types of flours we need to understand how the flour is made.

The most common flour is wheat flour and it is obtained by grinding the wheat.

The seed head is the part of the wheat that gets ground, and which is made from 3 parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ.

Kernel of wheat_Popsicle Society
Kernel of the wheat-How the flour is made_Popsicle Society

A “whole wheat” flour is made from all these three parts, while a “white flour” is made only from the endosperm, which makes it more tender.

Flour is also classified based on the amount of gluten that contains.

Gluten is the protein that gives dough its chewiness, therefore the more gluten contain the flour, the chewier the dough will be.

This is very important to know when choosing the flour depending on what we want to use it for.

Flour gluten content_Popsicle Society
Flour Gluten Content_Popsicle Society

Bread flour is considered a hard or strong flour and has a high gluten content, 12 to 14%.

Cake and pastry flour are considered soft and fine flours and have a very low gluten content, 8 to 10%.

All purpose flour is a combination between hard and soft flours and contains 10 to 12% gluten.

A different way to classify the flour is based on how finely the flour has been ground.

Coarsely-ground type “2” flour is at one end of the spectrum with powder-fine “00” flour at the other.

Types of flour and its uses_Popsicle Society
Types of flours and its uses_Infographic_Popsicle Society

All Purpose Flour

All purpose flour has less fibre and protein than a whole wheat flour as is made only from the endosperm but is more shelf-stable. It is great for most of the baking needs especially the ones which are not so delicate like cookies.

Bread Flour

Bread flour has a higher protein content being made by different hard varieties of wheat and such has a higher gluten content meaning higher chewiness and texture. It is great for different types of breads.

Pastry & Cake Flour

Pastry and cake flour has a finely texture and is made from soft varieties of wheat, meaning it has a lower gluten content. It is great for cakes, pastries, tarts, thickening sauces.

Italian 00 Flour

Italian 00 flour, also known as Manitoba flour is a very fine flour made from durum wheat and used for pizza dough and fresh pasta.

Difference between all purpose flour and 00 flour?

  • One of the difference is the level of grind between the 2 flours.
  • Another difference is how the gluten behaves. The gluten from durum wheat flour (00 flour) tends to be strong but not very elastic, while the gluten in the red wheat (all purpose flour) is both strong and elastic.

This means that the bread, pizza or pasta made from 00 flour has a great consistency and not too chewy.

Honestly I don’t like a chewy bread. I like it to have a nice crust on the outside and soft inside but not chewy.

However, with all this said, from when we are in Singapore is pretty difficult to find 00 flour and we usually use all purpose flour or bread flour for all our cooking and baking and is working perfectly fine.

What I don’t like, is to use only whole wheat flour, as the dough is more dense, but since I like the texture of it, I use to add just a little bit of whole wheat flour to the all purpose flour or bread flour.

And lately because seems that more and more people are intolerant at gluten there are plenty of gluten free flours that are good alternatives to conventional ground cereals. See below a few:

Types of gluten free flour_Popsicle Society
Types of Gluten Free Flours_Popsicle Society

Do you notice a difference when using different types of flour?

We do pizza and bread dough, cakes and cookies with the same all purpose or bread flour and I did not noticed the difference yet 😉

One time I’ve bough a cake flour and was not even a flour….was all sugar 🤪…well this I believe depends on the brands.

Thank you all for reading.

And please stay at home and stay safe!

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Image credit: Canva, edited by Popsicle Society

Love, R

Popsicle Society emoji baking

40 thoughts

  1. All-Purpose Flour, Italian 00 Flour, Bread Flour, Pastry Flour, Cake Flour, Gluten Free Flour…What’s the Difference?

  2. As informative as ever. My sister is heavily into Spelt. One day in France I tramped everywhere to find this – without enough of the language. That was fun.

  3. That’s a lot of information, is there so much variety 😳 all I know was white flour, wheat flour 🙄 we very rarely use these other flours for some purpose like for breads. It’s always as informative when it comes from you. Your time and research behind each post. You are doing great! Wonderful post Ribanna! Have a beautiful day ✨💐🤗

    1. Thank you very much Simon! Yes, there are so many types and honestly I did not tried them all 🤪 but the ones I’ve tried all looked the same to me 🤪 but is always good to know that we have different options 😉
      Thank you for your time and support always!
      Have a wonderful day too 😉 actually evening 🤪

  4. I was just wondering about the differences between the flours as I have just made something with spelt flour. I don’ t think I can get Pastry flour here, we just have the white and wholemeal varieties.

    1. Yes, so many flours…I believe depends also on the countries….for example in Europe I did not find the same flours that I find here…but is always good to know and try something new 😉

  5. Great post, my friend! I’ve always been fascinated with baking and how little we need to make something special and tasty. Can’t imagine my life without flour! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    1. Thank you very much Aiva! Yes, for who likes to cook or bake I guess is part of their life 😉 a very essential element 😉 it is amazing what we can do with it 😉
      Have a wonderful day 🌸🌸

  6. Informative.🔥 I know the name of many different flours. But their classification and such things are unknown to me. Thats for sharing this wide variety Ribana🤩💞👍

  7. You are just filled with so much information!!! I always wondered how the different flours affected baking, especially bread.Thank you this was an excellent post!!

    1. Thank you very much Diane! I’m glad you find it interesting! Are so many types out there….honestly I did tried to make bread with bread flour and 00 flour and I couldn’t see or feel the difference 😉

    1. Oops wrong post hahaha 😅 this was in a “related post” I must have accidentally click on it (I’m on my phone) so I ended up posting my comment here… too late before I notice I was in you post. 🤦‍♀️

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