Flour Guide: is All-Purpose Flour the same as Plain Flour?

Plain flour vs all-purpose flour
Published on
04 July 2021
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

Are you thinking if the all-purpose flour on your pantry is the same as plain flour which a recipe requires? Or maybe you just want to follow recipes but you don’t have the flour that it calls for? We’ll answer all the flour-related questions you have!!

Plain flour and all-purpose flour are just different names for the same thing. Plain flour is commonly used in the UK, while all-purpose flour is commonly used in the US. The difference is that they are milled from different types of wheat which makes UK plain flour less suitable for making bread. Neither of these flours contains a rising agent.

Types of flour

A guide on the common types of flour

Flour is what gives baked goods their shape and texture. It’s what makes dough for bread, cakes, and other types of food rise to become what we know as a finished product. But it comes in many varieties and functions. Read on below to learn more about them.

What is all-purpose flour?

All-purpose flour is a type of flour that can be used for almost any type of baked good. It has a high protein content and an average gluten level which makes it easier to use in most recipes, but not all. It lacks the rising agent that self-rising flour has.

What are the benefits and uses?

The main benefit of all-purpose flour is the many uses it has in different recipes. It is also a great option for people who bake on a regular basis for home bakers who only want to have one type of flour.

All purpose vs plain flour

Plain flour is made from wheat or rye grains that are ground into a powdery substance. It is used to make bread, cakes, pastries, and other types of baked goods. This type of flour has a neutral taste (hence its name). 

All-purpose flour nutrition

All-purpose flour is a fantastic source of protein and other vital nutrients. It contains a high protein content of 10-12%. It’s a good source of selenium, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. Traceable amounts of copper, iron, phosphorus, and zinc are also present. All-purpose flour is very versatile and can be used to make anything from bread, muffins, or even pizza dough. It lacks the healthy fibre that whole wheat contains but it makes up for this in versatility!

All-purpose flour calories

The flour nutrition labels indicate that a single cup provides about 455 calories. It may seem a lot, but you’re not likely to consume that many calories. Because when you mix flour with liquids and other ingredients to make your food or bread, fewer calories are consumed.

Self-rising flour

This type of flour contains a leavening agent that will make your baked goods nice and fluffy. Rising agents like baking powder or baking soda are added to it at the mill. Most recipes won’t require you to add further rising agents if you use self-rising flour.

Self-rising flour vs self-raising flour

Similar to all-purpose and plain flour, self-rising and self-raising are different names for the same type of flour. Self-rising is commonly used in the UK, while self-raising is used in the US.

This type of flour has a low protein because it’s milled from both hard and soft wheat.

How do you make 200g plain flour into self-rising?

If your recipe requires self-rising flour, you can easily make your own at home! Adding half a teaspoon of baking powder to every 100g of plain flour and dry-mixing it will work. So if you need 200g of self-rising flour, you can simply add a teaspoon of baking powder to plain flour. 

What is pastry flour?

Pastry flour is milled to a finer texture than all-purpose. It is made from a softer wheat which tends to have a lower protein content. This flour produces a very tender crumb with a fine crumb structure. This is great for baked goods like pie crusts or pound cake.

What is cake flour?

Cake flour is the best to use in making light and fluffy cakes. It only has a 5% protein content which is the lowest compared to other flours. It has a high starch content which produces crispy crusts that are less likely to become dry

What makes bread flour, bread flour?

Bread flour is the flour with the highest amount of protein content, which is about 13-16.5%. It’s milled mainly from hard wheat, which results in a higher protein flour. A higher level of protein results in a larger amount of gluten, which means the bread rises higher.

How to turn all-purpose flour into bread flour?

If your recipe calls for bread flour but you ran out of it, you can still substitute it with all-purpose flour. There’s an option of using one-to-one, but it might result in a less chewy texture. The other is removing 1 teaspoon of flour and replacing it with 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten.

00 flour – what’s the difference?

00 flour is an Italian-milled flour that’s best used for making pasta and pizza dough. This is a fine flour that creates a dough that’s silkier and chewy. It’s perfect for pasta as well as long-fermented Italian bread. Its protein content is about 11-12% similar to all-purpose flour.

bread made with 00 Italian bread flour

Do I need to use croissant flour?

In order to have a great croissant, strong flour with a protein content of 11.5-13% is best advised. While folding and rolling the pastry, extensibility is the key to trapping carbon dioxide. Many French croissant recipes use pastry flour, but bread flour or all-purpose flour can be used for a chewier and more sturdy croissant.

What is ciabatta flour?

Ciabatta is an Italian word for slippers, it acquired its name because of its shape similar to that. Ciabatta flour is a coarse and rustic flour that originates from Northern Italy. Its super high protein of around 14% supports the large air bubbles that develop during fermentation. Designed to be used for ciabatta bread this flour can also work well for high hydration doughs and sourdough.

Do I need pizza flour to make pizza?

Pizza flour is a type of 00 flour. This is white bread flour with medium-high gluten content. During the long development time that pizza dough undergoes the damaged gluten strands repair. This enhances the strength of the gluten. Fine milled for a soft texture that’s best to use with a wood-fired oven.

What is “enriched flour”?

This is flour that’s been added with the natural minerals it lost during the milling process. When wheat is milled, some minerals, fibres, and vitamins are extracted. With enriched flour, those things are being added back. It gives the bread a finer texture and increases its shelf life.

What is wholemeal flour used for?

Wholemeal flour is the UK term for the US term of whole-wheat flour. This contains up to 100% of the wheat grain. Even though it has a rougher texture, this has a high amount of nutrients. It is best to use for brown bread, wholemeal loaves, and soda bread. 

Is all wholemeal flour suitable for bread?

Yes! Wholemeal flour offers a lot of substantial health benefits to your bread. Not to mention that a lot of people prefer having a rough texture in their bread.

Frequently asked questions about flour

Is all-purpose flour plain or self rising?
Self-rising flour contains a rising agent that makes baked goods rise in the oven. All-purpose does not contain any raising agents. Bicarbonate of soda, baking powder or yeast will need to be added if you want to use this flour to make bread or cakes.
Can you use plain flour instead of self raising flour?
Yes! If your recipe calls for self-rising flour, you can choose to use plain flour instead. You just have to add a half teaspoon of baking powder for every 100 grams of plain flour you’re going to use.
Is plain flour maida?
Maida is not plain flour. It’s processed flour, also known as bleached flour. It consists of refined carbohydrates that give it a high glycerin index. Food that’s been made with Maida is considered to lack any special health benefits. This is believed to be a hazard and is banned in several countries.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and wish to treat me to a coffee, you can by following the link below – Thanks x

Buy Me A Coffee

Keep up to date with the latest Articles, Recipes & Bread Baking info by joining my mailing list

Join The Weekly Bread Baker's Newsletter!

Join my weekly baking newsletter to be notified with the latest bread baking tips and trends.
Busby's Bakery

© Busby's Bakery. All rights reserved.
Designed by Joe Joubert.