Grains, Meals, Flours, & Other Starches

Grains, Meals, Flours, & Other Starches

(or jump to chart solely on Flours)

Name Purchase Form Major Uses or Dishes
Whole Unrefined or minimally processed whole kernels Side dish
Cracked Coarsely crushed, minimally processed kernels Side dish, hot cereal
Bulgur Hulled, cracked hard or soft wheat; parboiled and dried Side dish, salad (tabbouleh)
Semolina Polished wheat kernel (bran and germ removed), whole or ground Pasta, flour, couscous (below)
Couscous Semolina pellets, often parcooked Side dish (often served with stew of same name)
Farina Polished, medium-grind wheat cereals Breakfast cereal
Bran Separated outer covering of wheat kernel; flakes Added to baked goods; prepared cereals, and other foods to increase dietary fiber
Germ Separated embryo of wheat kernel; flakes Added to baked goods and cereals to boost flavor and nutrition
WHEAT FLOUR (Whole or Graham): Finely ground, whole kernels Baked goods
All Purpose Finely ground, polished kernels; usually enriched; may be bleached Baked goods, thickener, other kitchen uses
Bread Finely ground, polished hard wheat kernels; usually enriched; may be bleached Bread dough
Cake Very finely ground, polished soft wheat kernels; usually enriched and bleached Cakes and other delicate baked goods
Pastry Very finely ground, polished soft wheat kernels; usually enriched and bleached Pastry and other delicate baked goods
Self-Rising Very finely ground, polished soft wheat kernels to which baking powder and salt have been added; usually enriched and bleached Cakes and other baked goods not leavened with yeast
Brown Hulled grains, bran intact; short, medium, or long grain; may be enriched Side dish, other
White Polished grains, usually enriched, long or short grain Long grain: side dish, other.
Short grain: pudding
Converted Parcooked, polished grains; may be enriched Side dish, other
Basmati Delicate, extra, long grain, polished Side dish including pilaf
Italian, short grain, arborio Short grain, polished; types include Piedmontese and arborio Risotto
Wild Long, dark-brown grain not related to regular rice Side dish, stuffings, other
Glutinous Round, short grain, very starchy; black (unhulled) or white (polished) Sushi, other Oriental dishes
Rice Flour Very finely ground polished rice Thickener
Hominy Whole, hulled kernels; dry or canned Side dish including succotash, in soup or stew
Grits Cracked hominy Side dish, hot cereal, baked goods
Meal Medium-fine ground, hulled kernels; white or yellow Baked goods, coating, polenta
Masa harina Corn processed with lime to remove hull, medium ground; dry, dough, raw or cooked tortillas Tortillas and other Mexican dishes
Cornstarch Very finely ground, hulled kernels Thickener, coating
Pot or Scotch Coarse, whole kernels; ground (barley meal) Side dish, hot cereal, soups; meal: baked goods
Pearl Polished, whole kernels; ground (barley flour) Side dish, hot cereal, soups; flour; baked goods
Oats, whole Groats or berries Cereal, stuffing
Oatmeal Steel cut, rolled, flakes, quick-cooking, instant Cereal, cakes, cookies, quickbreads
Oat bran Separated outer covering of grain, flakes Added to cereals and baked goods for dietary fiber
Arrowroot Fine, starchy powder made from a tropical root Thickener
Buckwheat Whole, coarsely cracked groats (kashi), flour Whole: side dish; flour: pancakes, baked goods
File Fine, starchy powder made from sassafras leaves Thickener (especially in Creole dishes such as gumbo)
Millet Whole, flour Side dish, flat breads
Rye Cracked, flour (whole berries available) Cracked: side dish; flour: baked goods
Sorghum Whole, flour, syrup Porridge, flat breads, beer, syrup and molasses

Flour - Descriptions & Uses
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Name Description & Uses
All-Purpose Flour A mixture of approximately equal parts hard and soft wheat flours. It's used in the kitchen rather than in the bakeshop.
Bread Flour A hard wheat flour. It's very easy to dust into a thin film, making it ideal to use when rolling out and working with dough. Bread flour is milled from wheat rich in protein, providing dough with a high gluten content. The wheat must be grown in areas with appropriate amount of rainfall and in soil rich in nitrogen. Bread flour is obviously best used for baking breads.
Cake Flour A soft wheat flour that has been chlorinated to further break down the strength of the gluten. It feels very smooth and can be pressed into a lump in your hand. Because it contains less of the gluten-producing proteins, cake flour yields a more crumbly, but lighter texture. It is used in making sponge cakes and other baked goods where a weaker gluten structure is preferable.
Pastry Flour Another soft wheat flour, which is close to all-purpose flour in gluten strength. It can be used for the same uses as cake flour, but with cakes and pastries you'd prefer to have some gluten strength in.
Whole Wheat Flour Also known as graham flour, whole-wheat flour is milled from the entire wheat kernel, including the germ and the bran, this being the reason why it is very nutritious. This flour doesn't keep as long as white flour because of the fat contained in the wheat germ. Whole wheat flour can be used to make breads, but since bread made solely from this flour is a lot heavier than that made with white flour, most of the time a combination of the two is used.
Nonwheat Flours Flours other than wheat (that have been milled from other plants) can be used. Each contributes its own distinctive taste, texture, and nutritional benefit; however, since these flours are lower in gluten content, they are always combined with a percentage of wheat flour to assure proper leavening.
Barley Flour This flour is seldom used in bread baking today, but in the past it was used extensively. To substitute barley flour for wheat flour, use half the amount by volume, continuing to use wheat flour for the other half.
Buckwheat Flour This flour is made from the roasted seeds of the plant. Buckwheat is used most often in pancakes, especially for the popular buckwheat blini, known from Eastern Europe.
Corn Flour Corn flour, not to be confused with cornstarch, is milled from either white or yellow corn. It's also produced as a byproduct in the making of cornmeal. This flour contains no gluten, and is sprinkled on top of English muffins, sourdough breads, and breadsticks to give them a crunchy crust.
Potato Flour Potato flour, also known as potato starch, is made from cooked, dried, ground potatoes. It is most frequently used as a thickening agent, but can also be used in baking to reduce the gluten strength of bread flour since potato flour has no gluten.
Rye Flour This is one of the best-tasting flours for making bread. It is divided into four categories, those being: light, medium, dark, and pumpernickel. As with wheat flour, these grades are determined by the part of the grain that the flour is milled from, the medium grade being the most popular. Pumpernickel flour is made in much the same way as whole wheat flour: it is milled from the entire rye grain including the bran. Rye flour is almost always mixed with some wheat flour to give it added gluten strength and rising power in bread baking. A small amount of vinegar added to rye bread dough will help to bring out the rye flavor. Caraway seeds are almost always an ingredient in rye bread also.
Soy Flour Soy flour is made from the soybean rather than from a cereal grain. It isn't commonly used in the pastry shop, but it is very nutritious and can be mixed with other flours in cakes for consumers with special diets.
The New Professional Chef, 6th edition * 1996,
by The Culinary Institute of America,
published by John Wiley & Sons

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