Flour Power - All Purpose (Part 1)

All Purpose Flour

All purpose flour - often abbreviated to AP - is your most commonly utilized flour-type in baking and cooking. The protein (also referred to as wheat gluten) in all purpose flour averages from 8% - 11%. In America, the protein in all purpose flour varies greatly depending on where in the country the wheat was grown. Grains grown in the Pacific northwest and in the southern sections of the United States have lower protein than grains grown elsewhere in North America, making flour created in that area closer to the gluten levels of pastry flour rather than an the average all purpose protein content.

Substitution options:

Option 1- Full substitution using Cake Flour & Bread Flour:

Using a blend of 50% cake flour and 50% bread flour will create baked items that are comparable in texture to those that use all-purpose flour.

Option 2 - Full substitution using Self-Rising Flour:

For recipes that use baking powder, self-rising flour can be used cup-for-cup by reducing the baking powder in the recipe by 1/2t per cup of self rising flour.

For example, a recipe that calls for 2c AP flour and 1 1/2t baking powder, you would instead use 2c self rising flour and 1/2t of baking powder.

Option 3 - Partial substitution with Oat Flour:

Oat flour can be used as a partial substitution for all-purpose flour. Using only oat flour will change the texture of your baked goods, you can use 25% oat flour and 75% all purpose flour with minimal impact on the baked goods.

Option 4 - Partial substitution with Whole Wheat Flour:

Whole wheat flour can be used as a partial substitution for all-purpose flour. Using only whole wheat flour will change the texture of your baked goods, and cannot be used 1:1 without additional recipe adjustments. Using 25% oat flour and 75% all purpose flour will have minimal impact on the baked goods, however you can go up to 50% whole wheat flour and 50% all purpose, just note that there will be some flavor and textural differences.

Option 5 - Full substitution with Whole Wheat Flour:

Whole wheat flour can be tricky to use. It is a much heavier flour than all purpose, and when used as a full substitution, can result in drier, dense baked goods. To combat these issues, it is necessary to not only use less wheat flour than all purpose flour, but to also increase the liquid and decrease the fat. To substitute for 1 cup of all purpose flour, use 3/4c of whole wheat flour, increase the liquid (milk, water, applesauce, or orange juice) by 2T, and decrease the fat (butter, oil, or shortening) by 20%.
  • Note 1: Using applesauce or orange juice as the additional liquid will provide a slight increase in the sweetness, combating the bitterness that can become apparent in wheat flours
  • Note 2: Since wheat flour products can bake differently than all purpose flour or bread flour products, sometimes cooking methods may have to be adjusted. If the whole wheat products are resulting in baked goods that are still doughy in the center, try decreasing the temperature by 25 degrees, and increasing the cooking time by 10% - 25%.
  • Note 3: While increasing the liquid will help some with the dry and crumbly texture that is often associated with wheat flour, allowing the finished baked goods to rest overnight before serving will provide a chance for the flour to absorb more of the moisture. This is especially true with cakes, muffins, quick breads, and brownies. 

This is the first part of the Flour Power series, where we are examining the differences between flours and establishing multiple substitution options that can be used in a baking crisis. Once the selected parts are released, the complete course will be posted in our MGM online cooking school, complete with consolidated information, additional flour analysis, tips, substitutions and printable quick reference sheets.

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