Considering some recipes require “all-purpose flour” or “AP flour” while other recipes require “plain flour,” should all-purpose flour be the same as plain flour?
It can be confusing for home bakers to understand the terminologies around flour, but I will help you understand what they mean!
An excellent choice for a variety of baking and cooking applications, all-purpose flour is a staple ingredient in many kitchens.
Is All-Purpose Flour The Same As Plain Flour?
There is no difference between all-purpose flour and plain flour. The term all-purpose flour is commonly used in North America, whereas plain flour is used in the UK and Australia.
What you need to know is about choosing between self-rising flour or all-purpose flour for your recipe. You don’t have to worry about AP or plain flour as both of them are the same.
Can I Substitute All-Purpose Flour For Plain Flour?
Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour for plain flour in recipes. Both types of flour are interchangeable and will produce the same results.
However, you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe when using all-purpose flour.
What Is All-Purpose Flour?
An all-purpose flour, or AP flour, is a mild-flavored white flour that is derived exclusively from the endosperm of the wheat head.
The plain flour, also known as AP, lasts longer than other whole-grain flours, but it has little nutritional value.
Various sweet and savory recipes can be made with this flour, including layer cakes, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, quick breads, and pie crusts.
Flour is versatile, and can be used to make buttery crusts for chicken pot pies, to dredge fish for frying, and to thicken sauces and gravies.
What Is Plain Flour?
In contrast, plain flour is a low-protein flour commonly used in pastries, cakes, and biscuits. In comparison with all-purpose flour, it contains less protein, around 8% to 9%.
Having less protein in the flour means that it has less gluten, which makes baked goods have a softer crumb and a lighter texture.
Plain Flour Vs. All-Purpose Flour
Protein content in all-purpose flour is higher than in plain flour when comparing protein content.
High protein flours, such as bread flour, contain even more protein (around 12-14%) and are used to make bread and other baked goods with a lot of structure.
If you prefer to use all-purpose flour instead of plain flour, it can be substituted for whole wheat flour.
Be aware, however, that the final product might differ in texture and flavor. Plain flour is best for making pastries and cakes since it ensures a tender and delicate texture.
Ultimately, all-purpose flour is different from plain flour primarily because of its protein content.
There are two types of flour: all-purpose flour and plain flour. All-purpose flour can be used to bake everything from cookies to cakes, while plain flour is best suited to delicate baked goods.
Think about your recipe and the texture and structure you want in the end product before choosing between the two.
All Purpose Flour Uses
A versatile flour, all-purpose flour is used in a wide variety of baking recipes. All-purpose flour can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
Homemade pasta: You can make homemade pasta dough with all-purpose flour. By mixing flour with oil, eggs, and water, you can make a dough, then roll it out and cut it out.
Coatings: You can make a coating for fried or baked foods with all-purpose flour, including chicken or fish. A flavorful coating can be prepared by mixing flour with spices and herbs.
Batters: You can make fried foods with all-purpose flour, such as chicken nuggets and onion rings.
Pastry dough: Homemade pastry dough can be made for savory and sweet dishes such as pies and tarts using all-purpose flour.
Thickening sauces and gravies: Foods like sauces and gravies can be thickened with all-purpose flour. Stir the thickened sauce or gravy after adding the flour slurry to the cold water and mixing it well.
Baked goods: You can make cakes, cookies, bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and more with all-purpose flour.
What Is Self-Rising Flour?
In self-rising flour, a leavening agent adds airiness through small gas bubbles released during baking. It is a combination of all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder.
Self-rising flour was patented in the late 1800s by an English baker named Henry Jones for improving baked goods during long voyages.
As a result of his pre-batched flour blend, he was eventually able to create a whole range of dry mixes requiring only egg and oil – including pancakes, brownies, and cakes.
Is All-Purpose Flour Self Rising?
A recipe that calls for all-purpose flour will not rise on its own. To provide lift, a leavening agent such as baking soda, baking powder, or yeast will be added.
You can make your own self-rising flour by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder (or 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda) with a cup of flour.
When you pour all-purpose flour into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle a pinch of fine salt on top. Ensure that the flour is evenly distributed by whisking thoroughly and storing it in an airtight container.
Self-Rising Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour
There are two main differences between self-rising flour and all-purpose flour: their ingredients and uses.
In terms of ingredients, self-rising flour contains all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder, whereas all-purpose flour contains only ground endosperm.
When an even, consistent crumb is the goal, use self-rising flour (and variants such as self-rising cornmeal): Think scones, pancakes, cupcakes, muffins, and classic Southern recipes like buttermilk biscuits and cornbread.
In addition, all-purpose flour can be used as a thickener and is appropriate for use in most baking applications: Use it to make a classic French roux or add it to stews directly as a slurry.
The Regional Differences When It Comes To All-Purpose Flour Names
The world’s most popular baking ingredient is all-purpose flour. The term has been given several different names, however.
All-purpose flour is sometimes referred to as “AP flour” internationally. All-purpose flour is known as “plain flour” in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Germans refer to it as “Flour Type 550”, while French refer to it as “Flour Type 55”. The Indian version of all-purpose flour is called Maida, but it contains less protein than regular all-purpose flour.
Is plain flour the same as all-purpose flour? Certainly. Australians call it plain flour. In places like the USA and the Philippines, it’s called all-purpose flour.
Whenever you read recipes, you can translate them as they are. You may also hear that all-purpose flour is good for biscuits, cookies, etc. All-purpose isn’t all-purpose at all. Thus, it should be called “plain” flour.
You should use bread flour for bread since it contains more protein, while cake flour should be used for biscuits and cookies since it contains less protein.
Self-rising flour is uncommon in other countries, even though it is common in Australia. Therefore, you shouldn’t confuse self-raising flour with regular flour.
There will be a significant difference in the results. It is possible to make your own self-raising flour, however.
You will need about 15g of baking powder (no baking soda, just powder) per 300g of plain (all-purpose) flour. Depending on the recipe, you may need a pinch of salt if it is quite a sweet dessert.