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Flour is made by grinding, then sifting wheat kernels. A wheat kernel consists of three distinct parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. White flour of any type is milled from the endosperm of the wheat kernel, while whole wheat flour contains the entire kernel. American farmers grow six different classes of wheat, which make different flours for specific purposes. Most of the recipes featured in this collection are made from either bread flour, whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour.

Bread flour is ground from hard, high protein wheat such as hard red spring wheat. North Dakota farmers grow more than 50 percent of the spring wheat produced in the United States. Bread flour is unique in that it contains a higher level of gluten than all-purpose flour. Gluten, a substance made up of several proteins, provides the structure and elasticity necessary for a yeast dough. Home bakers find that bread flour makes a loaf with high volume, a tender crust and an evenly distributed, fine grain. Dough made with bread flour must be kneaded longer to fully develop the gluten. Less flour may be necessary for a smooth, elastic dough.

Whole wheat flour contains bran, which reduces gluten development. Therefore, products made from whole wheat flour tend to be heavier and denser than those made from white flour. In most recipes, whole wheat flour can be mixed half and half with white flour.

All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheats. It was developed so home bakers could buy one type of flour and still get satisfactory results in everything from bread to cakes and pastry. If you choose to use all-purpose flour in recipes calling for bread flour, you'll generally need more flour than the recipe requires.