With baking season now in full swing you may be wondering, Is all-purpose flour the same as plain flour? Can you use plain flour instead of all-purpose flour? And the answer-- yes!
All-purpose flour is the same as plain flour and the terms can be used interchangeably. In fact, the only difference is that all-purpose flour is the US term and plain flour is the UK term, but they describe the same thing. All-purpose flour is the most commonly used flour and will accommodate a wide variety of baked goods and recipes. All-Purpose flour, plain flour, regular flour, are all one and the same.
Though all-purpose or plain flour is the most common, there are lots of different types of flours out there to suit all different baking and cooking needs. The differences that separate flours from each other is often grind of the flour, the type of wheat used, the protein content, and the addition of leavening agents.
Flour Brand Names
There are seemingly countless brands of flour out there and everybody is going to have their favorite flour that they swear by. Here are some common and popular flour brands.
- King Arthur Flour
- Bob's Red Mill Flour
- Pillsbury Flour
- Hodgson Mill Flour
- Gold Medal Flour
- Great River Milling Flour
All-Purpose Flour (Plain Flour)
All-purpose flour is the most standard flour out there. If a recipe does not specify what flour to use, chances are, it calls for all-purpose flour. This flour is neutral in taste which is why it works so well for so many dishes. All-purpose flour has a high protein content and average gluten content.
All-purpose flour can come bleached or unbleached, and as white or whole wheat flour. In my experience, the best and most versatile flour to use is unbleached white all-purpose flour.
All-Purpose Flour uses
All-purpose flour is used most often for baked goods. We use it in family favorites like homemade cheese biscuits, zucchini banana muffins, silver dollar pancakes, classic crepes, and cookies. It is also used in a roux to thicken sauces and soups. Flour is what gives these food items their shape.
All-Purpose Flour Substitute
If you are in the UK, you may see the word "plain flour" and that is the best substitute for all-purpose flour, as they are the same thing.
What is the closest thing to all-purpose flour? Cake flour. Cake flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio.
Other substitutes for all-purpose flour depend on what you are making. If you are making a baked good, you may be able to substitute in self-rising flour by removing the baking soda or baking powder from the recipe. 100 g of all-purpose flour would have about 1 tsp. of a leavening agent such as baking soda or baking powder. If you are able, remove that amount of leavening agent from your recipe.
Whole wheat flour is unrefined and can be a substitute for all-purpose flour in breads and other hearty baked goods. There is more flavor to it, so it would not be a great substitute in a roux or baked goods that need something mild flavored.
All-Purpose flour in different languages
Just like all-purpose flour is plain flour in the UK, many countries have their own name for plain flour. Here are some:
What is all-purpose flour in deutsch ? Germany's Type 550 flour is the same as all-purpose flour. German flours are labelled and sold by a numbering system, and Type (or Mehltypen) 550 is equivalent to all-purpose flour. The gluten in Type 550 is 9-11%.
What is all-purpose flour in spain? Harina panificable and Harina de Trigo are the same as all-purpose flour. Both are all-purpose flours with a similar gluten content. Harina means flour in spanish.
What is all-purpose flour malaysia? In Malaysia you will often find flour labeled as all-purpose flour, refined flour, or simply flour. You may also see all-purpose flour called Tepung Gandum, although this can sometimes be whole wheat flour.
Bread flour has a higher protein count, somewhere between 13% and 16%. This higher protein count of bread flour results in a dough that raises and has bigger bubbles that are well supported by protein structures. Bread flour is great for you guessed it, bread!
Self rising flour or Self Raising Flour
Just like the terms all-purpose and plain, self-rising flour is the same as self-raising flour. Self-Rising is the U.S. term and Self-Raising is the U.K. term.
Both describe a flour that has a raising agent added to it, so that it creates a baked good that is light and fluffy. Most of the time it is either baking soda or baking powder that has been added to self-rising flour. Most often, you won't have to use another rising agent, if you are using self-rising flour.
Pastry flour is a finer grind that all-purpose flour and it also has a lower gluten content and also low protein content. It is best used for delicate baked goods.
Similar to pastry flour, cake flour has a lower protein content and a lower gluten content (around 5%). Cake flour and pastry flour can be used interchangeably in most cases. This fine and delicate flour is great for cakes, pie crusts, and phyllo dough.