Flour is the starchy powder you get when you grind down grains and some vegetables. You can buy flour made from wheat, rye, corn, potatoes, soybeans, buckwheat, and oats. Flour is used is used to make breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, and a whole other range of baked products. It is also used to thicken sauces and gravies.
The most common flour used today in America is all-purpose flour. This flour is made from both soft and hard wheat to give it a texture that is suitable for baking most products. The only time you might not want to use all-purpose flour is if you are baking a very delicate cake or pastry. In that event, you'd want to use cake flour, a very finely milled flour.
Whole wheat flour is a flour that is milled from the entire wheat kernel. The bran layer of the wheat is not removed, so this flour retains a high nutritional quality and is a fabulous source of fiber. Whole wheat flour has a nutty, pleasant flour, but foods baked with it are heavier and dense.
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