What is Pastry Flour & How to Use it | Bob's Red Mill
What Is It? Wednesday: Pastry Flour
Healthy Living, Recipes on November 5, 2014 by

What Is It? Wednesday: Pastry Flour

What Is Pastry Flour?

Pastry flour is a low-protein flour designed to make pastries lighter and more delicate than those made with all-purpose flour. It bakes tender pastries, chewy cookies and is an excellent solution for pie crusts. Pastry flour can be used in a number of classic recipes like biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pancakes and pie crust dough. It is typically used for baking when baking powder or baking soda is the leavening agent.  We recommend our Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for bakers who want to use whole grains in their recipes, but need a lighter touch. Full-force whole wheat flour is great for bread dough, but a little heavy for cookies and muffins. Our whole wheat pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat, which has less protein (aka gluten) than our whole wheat flour ground from hard red wheat. We offer whole wheat pastry flourorganic whole wheat pastry flour, and unbleached fine pastry flour for all of your pastry baking needs.

Pastry Flour vs. Other Types of Flour

What Is the Difference Between All Purpose Flour and Cake Flour?

Pastry flour, whether whole wheat or unbleached white, has less protein than all purpose flour and more than cake flour. It's a happy place in between.

Why Use Pastry Flour Instead of All Purpose Flour or Cake Flour? 

I am starting to sound like a broken record, but you choose a cup of this flour because you can. Because baking is an act of love and, just as you would choose your words carefully in a love letter, you choose your ingredients carefully when baking something from your heart. It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is a little, but when I bake, I bake with the intention of creating something special for my loved ones. I can't think of the last time that I baked just to get the job done.

When you want to make a perfect blueberry muffin, pumpkin quick bread, decadent cinnamon rolls or chewy chocolate chip cookie, pastry flour is a good choice. Just between us, I would venture to say that unbleached pastry flour and cake flour are pretty interchangeable. You probably don't need both on hand. Whole wheat pastry flour, though, is a kitchen essential when you want to use whole grains in your baking. Whole wheat pastry flour is a far cry from regular whole wheat flour. It is not nearly as heavy as regular whole wheat flour and has a lighter flavor. It's wonderful when used half and half with white flour. I guarantee that no one will know your chocolate chip cookies have whole grains if you use half whole wheat pastry flour and half white. I know, I've done it. Do not, however, be fooled into thinking you can use pastry flour for bread baking. You'll be sadly disappointed.

What is it? Wednesday: Pastry Flour

Why Does Protein (Gluten) Matter in Flour?

The protein in wheat flour (aka gluten) gives baked goods structure and elasticity. For chewy breads and pizza crusts, you want to use a higher protein flour when making your pizza dough. For pastries and delicate baked goods, you want less protein.

Gluten is sticky and stretchy (think of a balloon). When leavening reacts and produces gasses in your baked good, gluten creates pockets that expand around these gasses, causing your baked good to rise. More gluten and high-power leavening (yeast) will make beautiful artisan breads with lovely air pockets. Less gluten and tamer leavening (baking soda, baking powder) make smaller bubbles and smaller air pockets. When you’re striving to create a decadent coffee cake, you want a small crumb and a moist loaf.

FAQs About Pastry Flour

Is pastry flour gluten free? Nope.

Is Bob's Red Mill pastry flour organic? We offer one organic option, Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Otherwise, our regular whole wheat pastry flour and unbleached fine pastry flour are not organic.

Is Bob's Red Mill pastry flour enriched? Yes, our Unbleached Fine Pastry Flour is enriched to government standards with niacin, iron, thiamine, folic acid, and riboflavin. Our whole wheat varieties are not enriched, as they contain all of the healthful vitamins and minerals just as nature intended.

Is Bob's Red Mill pastry flour whole grain? Our whole wheat varieties are made with whole grain soft white wheat, nothing added, nothing removed. Our unbleached fine pastry flour is not whole grain.

Is there a substitute for pastry flour? Not really, but if you are in a pinch, all purpose flour and cake flour are close replacements for white pastry flour. For whole grain baking, a combination of regular whole wheat flour and all purpose flour will work, but baked goods will be more dense. Luckily, whole wheat pastry flour is a very popular item and available at many retail stores.

What is it? Wednesday: Pastry Flour

Some of our favorite recipes using whole wheat pastry flour: 

View even more here

19 Comments

  1. Tina
    does the whole wheat pastry flour go bad. How long is it good for?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, it can go bad. Our whole wheat pastry flour has a shelf life of 2 years. It will smell kind of sour and unpleasant when it has gone rancid. Check the date on the bag, if you can.
      Reply
  2. Joann Woodward
    I have been researching every detail for the start-up of my small business, Joann's Kitchen Korner, LLC. I will be making exclusively, home made cinnamon rolls. I discovered when I got my first and best recipe for challah Jewish braided bread, that this also was the perfect dough for light feathery yeast cinnamon rolls. (not too sweet and they don't "sit" in your stomach like a "heavy lump" after eating this fine delicacy!) For years close family and friends have encouraged me to launch a small cinnamon roll baking business, now that I have retired working for The State of Michigan. In researching the finer details of what makes the most exquisite delicacy for a both challah bread (and cinnamon rolls) is to use a lower protein unbleached white flour. I would prefer to use an organic flour, but I understand this particular flour from Red Mill, is not organic. That is OK with me....I just want my customers to know I am using the best of ingredient products. Can you confirm which of your flours you believe would best give me what I am looking for in creating my cinnamon rolls? Do you sell in bulk? I look forward to hearing from you! Regards, Joann Woodward, MA from Ypsilanti, MI. [email protected]
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Joann, I will have customer service follow up with you.
      Reply
  3. Mary Pasley
    I am making Irish Soda Bread and my recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour. Since soda is the levening, can your suggestion of WW and white work? Is it a 1:1 substitution?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Mary, this is a great question. We recommend you contact our recipe specialist to find out details on substituting specific flours in your recipe. You can reach her at 1-800-349-2173.
      Reply
  4. lynn
    Can Redmill Whole Wheat Pastry flour be substituted cup for cup of unbleached white flour when baking Irish Soda Bread?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Lynn - Yes, you can use this as a substitute :) Enjoy!
      Reply
  5. Miriam zaghlul
    Miriam zaghlul
    Can I use whole wheat pastry flour to make bread.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Miriam - Yes, though you won't get the same chewy texture that you'd achieve with a higher protein flour like our Artisan Bread Flour. Bread made with Pastry Flour will be very tender and light.
      Reply
  6. Brian Cole
    Actually white Sonora is an perfect alternate to pastry flour.
    Reply
  7. Lynn Neighbors
    Lynn Neighbors
    Really where is a store that stocks your pastry flour?
    Just drove over 30 miles and there's several bags...
    Zero...
    Closest to Wellston Oklahoma?
    Help?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Lynn - You can enter your zip code into our Store Finder to find stores near you that carry our brand. Since you're looking for that particular flour, we'd suggest calling ahead to check their real-time inventory.

      You can also always order Pastry Flour directly from our website.
      Reply
  8. Theresa C Martin
    Theresa C Martin
    I want to make donuts using your pastry flour Do I need to use yeast?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Theresa! If you're following a traditional fried donut recipe, yes you will likely need yeast. This is not a self-rising flour.
      Reply
  9. Patricia Hansen
    Patricia Hansen
    Hello: curious if pastry flour is a substitute for graham flour. I can't find graham flour but have found a reference to pastry flour being similar or the same as graham flour. Thanks for your feedback.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Patricia! Our Organic Whole Wheat Flour would be the closest substitute to Graham Flour. It's made from the same wheat berries, just milled to a finer consistency whereas Graham Flour was more coarse.

      Shop: Organic Whole Wheat Flour
      Reply
  10. bob
    Will i get a fluffier, lighter pancake using pastry flour. I ran out of your regular white flour and used Gold Medal which I had today and was really disappointed...my recipe calls for 1/2 cooked rice 1/2 flour.....from reading your comments, maybe wheat pastry would be best. Anxiouly waiting your response.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Yes, Pastry Flour has a lower percentage of gluten (protein) and will result in a lighter pancake.
      Reply

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