Flour has been a key component of the world’s diet for centuries, whether for baking, pastry-making or cooking. But there is a wide variety of flours. They don’t all have the same specific characteristics and are not all dedicated to the same uses, so it’s sometimes difficult to find your way around. But choosing the right flour gives you the best chance of succeeding in your recipe! So here is some information and tips to guide you in the world of French flours…

First of all, what is flour? Flour is a powder obtained by grinding and milling cereal grains. In fact, today, the term flour no longer refers only to products obtained by grinding grasses* such as wheat, but also to other products such as nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, etc.), legumes and seeds from various plants (beans, lentils, peas, broad beans, etc.).

The grind or action of grinding (especially for wheat) consists in crushing the grains to separate the envelope from the floury kernel. As its name suggests it is from the floury kernel that flour is made.

Which flours for which uses?

There are different kinds of flour, depending on the cereal from which it is extracted: wheat, corn, rice, rye, spelt, buckwheat, oats, barley, etc., and not all have the same function. There are two types of wheat: common wheat (soft) and durum (hard). Durum wheat is used whole or ground to make semolina, bulgur, grains or pastas of all kinds. For its part, soft wheat (or wheat) is used to produce flour especially for bakery. Of course, none of these flours are consumed as is. Flour is always transformed into bread, dough or semolina because the starch and gluten it contains gives shape and consistency to food. The higher the gluten content of a flour, the stronger it will be to resist deformation. Gluten allows a good rise, elasticity, gives softness to a dough, as well as a good resistance to cooking.

In France, wheat flours are classified (and regulated) by type according to the quantity of grain envelopes (or bran) found in their composition. This quantity is called the “ash content”. The types of flour are indicated by an index behind a T (example T45). This index indicates the flour’s degree of refining. The higher the index, the higher the ash content, and the more ‘complete’, it is because it includes a very large part of the cereal husk. The crumb of a bread will be for example darker and more compact with a “semi-complete” and “complete” flour. Conversely, the lower the number, the more refined and white the flour, and the less of the husk it contains. Note: the husk and germ of the grain contain many vitamins (B1, B2, PP and E) and minerals (phosphorus, potassium, magnesium), which is good for the body.

The numbering used in France for flours

T45

It is a flour called «white» containing very little ash. Very refined, it is very light, has a neutral taste, is rich in gluten and swells easily. Fluid, it is generally used for liquid doughs (french crêpes, doughnuts, pancakes), pastries (cakes, brioches), viennoiseries (puff pastry), pizza dough or sauces. Gruau Rouge T45 flour is used for viennoiseries and brioches. T45 is a great ally for recipes using fresh yeast!

T55

It is also white flour, the most basic and often the cheapest. Slightly heavier than T45, it is also rich in gluten. It is widely used in cooking to make ordinary white breads such as baguettes, cakes and pizza doughs, as well as pastries (croissants and pains au chocolat), when it’s made from “Gruau”. It is ideal for pie doughs, because it makes them slightly less elastic and shrinks little during baking.

T65

Another white flour, it is often called «Tradition» and it contains more dark, fiber, minerals, and vitamins than T45 and T55 flours. It has retained most of the wheat grain’s nutrients during refining. This flour is generally used to make traditional baguettes, country-style breads when mixed with rye flour, cakes, rustic pie doughs and pizza doughs.

T80

This is a “semi-complete” flour (also known as “bise”) with a slightly higher ash content than white flours. It is often used to make special and “semi-complete” breads (country bread, cereal bread), and sometimes in pastry-making for “rustic” recipes. T80 is also frequently used in organic bakeries. But be careful, it has more difficulty to rise, and produces rather compact preparations (crumb tight for bread for example).

T110

It is a whole wheat flour for making whole wheat breads. It can also be used to thicken sauces or make pastries. This whole meal flour contains more fiber and nutrients than white flour due to its high ash content.

T150

This wholemeal flour is ideal for making wholemeal (or bran) breads. It contains all the bran of the wheat grain. Be careful, however, it may be irritating to the fragile intestines because of its high ash content.

If you can make pizza doughs with T45 or T55, there is a (Italian) “special pizza” flour (which can be similar to T45 flour) that works wonders: T00. This is called “strength flour” because it is very rich in gluten. It produces a supple, elastic dough, easy to work with.

Bakery Distribution offers a whole range of wheat flours of different strengths, white, whole meal and milling mixes to make all kinds of breads, pastries and cakes, as well as a T00 flour. Discover all our products here: www.bakery-distribution.com

*Plants that form spikes.

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