Which flour is best for the job?

535Flour mills produce a range of around 400 flour grades for their customers in bakeries and other food businesses. There is a more limited range available in retail outlets; but which is best for the job?

The following is a quick guide.

Pastry – Plain flour is the best type of flour to use. If you want some help making pastry we have a stunning photographic step-by-step guide.

Cakes, biscuits and scones – Self-raising flour is normally used in cake recipes but you can also use plain flour if the recipe includes baking powder. Soft flour and sponge flour are also ok to use. We have step-by-step guides to the nation’s favourite classic, the Victoria Sponge.

Batters – Plain flour is the best type of flour to use in batters; again we have a step-by-step pancake guide.

Bread and pizza bases – Strong flour is ideal. If you are new to baking bread then take a look at our ‘how to bake bread’ section and our step-by-step guide.

Sauces – Plain flour is best for sauces; and cornflour can be used. Making a white sauce from scratch? Take a look at our step-by-step guide.

You can also find more information on flour types in our booklet Flours for homebaking including information on which companies produce what flours and which supermarkets supply them.

Flour conversions

There are different sytems for categorising flour in the UK, European countries and the USA. The table below provides a rough indication of equivalence. However the situation is more complicated and can depend on the protein content of the flour and the type of wheat used by the miller.

UK Germany France Italy USA
100% wholemeal Type 1700 Type 150 Integrale Wholewheat
Brown Type 1050 Type 110 2 First clear flour
Lightbrown Type 812 Type 80 1 High gluten flour
White Type 550 Type 55 0 All purpose flour
Patent white Type 405 Type 45 00 Pastry flour

In general, for European flour grades, the lower the number the whiter the flour.