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 flour, organic 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.
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.
Some of our favorite recipes using whole wheat pastry flour:
- Banana Cake
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Butternut Squash Olive Oil Cake with Clementine Glaze
- Caramelized Banana and Chia Pancakes
- Cheddar Apple Bread
- Citrus Pound Cake
- Iced Sweet Potato and Orange-Spice Loaf
- Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies
- Whole Grain Power Bars
- All Natural Thin Mints from 101 Cookbooks
- Salt-Kissed Buttermilk Cake from 101 Cookbooks
- Cranberry Orange Almond Bread