Wheat Flour is the powder obtained from grinding different kinds of wheat, as a whole grain or in combination of various parts of the wheat grain – bran, germ and endosperm. Wheat flour may be clean, white, brown, hard, soft, or weak depending on the gluten content and the part of the grain that has been ground to obtain the flour.
The first archaeological evidence of wheat cultivation has been found around 9000 B.C. in the Fertile Crescent including Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Armenia and Iraq.
Preferred Methods of Cooking
Wheat flour can be kneaded into dough or mixed into a batter. The batter or dough can be baked, steamed, grilled, boiled, fried or roasted for use in various kinds of dishes.
Cuisines and Popular Recipes
Wheat flour is widely used in almost all the cuisines of the world – such as Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and so on – for making various dishes and basic food items. The most popular being the bread which is a staple food across the world. Bread may be found in the form of buns, loaves, bagels, pretzels, croissants, tortillas, wraps, chapattis, rotis or parathas. Other popular uses of wheat flour is for making cakes, muffins, pancakes, cookies, pizza dough, crackers, pie crusts, dumplings, pasta, macaroni, spaghetti or vermicelli.
Wheat flour may lack in nutrition and health benefits compared to whole wheat flour. As there are various types of wheat flour the refined flour made from endosperm of the wheat is completely devoid of any nutrition, such as cake flour, pastry flour, instant flour or self-raising flour. However, other wheat flour such as the bread flour and whole wheat flour is nutritious and has a high content of various vitamins, minerals and protein. It is rich in thiamine, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium and fiber. It contains phytochemicals including antioxidants which help to ward off cancer. It acts as a laxative and also helps to substantially lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk.
Buying and Storing
While buying flour packets, it is vital to look for securely sealed bags or boxes, as torn packages will expose the flour to air and insect contamination. Whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life compared to other wheat flour like cake flour, pastry flour and so on. This is because the oil from the bran can cause the whole wheat flour to become rancid. It can be stored at room temperature for up to a week or two, but beyond this it should be either refrigerated or kept in the freezer, which will keep it good for even up to a year. However, wheat flour made from only the endosperm has a higher shelf life than the whole wheat flour.
All Purpose Flour – This flour is obtained from a blend of soft and hard wheat and has a lower protein content than the bread flour.
Bleached Flour – This is white flour which has been treated with flour bleaching agents like acetone peroxide, benzoyl peroxide, chlorine or nitrogen dioxide.
Bread Flour – This is made from the hard wheat and has high protein content, which is ideal for making bread. It can be made out of white flour or whole wheat flour.
Cake Flour – This is a form of white flour made from soft wheat which has low protein content and hence provides a soft texture to cakes and cookies.
Graham Flour – This is a special type of whole wheat flour which is made by combining finely ground endosperm and coarsely ground bran and germ.
Instant Flour – This is pre-cooked flour and is used as a thickener for gravies and sauces.
Pastry Flour – This flour may be available as white flour, whole wheat flour or white flour with only the germ retained. It is much like cake flour made from soft wheat but has protein content which is slightly higher than cake flour. This is ideal for making pastry, tarts, cookies, muffins, biscuits and crackers. Hence it is also known as Cookie Flour or Cracker Flour.
Self-rising Flour – This flour is white flour which has been mixed with chemical leavening agents in a fixed ratio.
Spelt Flour – This is prepared from a special type of wheat known as Spelt Wheat. It is used in specialty baking and not in the common cooking.
Tang Flour – This type of flour is primarily used in Vietnamese and Chinese cooking for making the outer layer of dumplings.
Wheat flour is widely used in the production of cosmetics, alcohol, wallboard, news print, paper products, concrete, gluten and oil.
- Wheat is such a versatile crop that it is harvested every month in some part of the world.
- In United States, the per capita consumption of wheat exceeds any other single food staple.
- Wheat production comes third after rice and corn in the total world production.