What is pastry flour and what is it used for?
Pastry flour is milled from soft wheat, often soft red winter wheat. It contains less protein than all-purpose (AP) flour but more than cake flour, about 7.5-9.5% protein. Because it is low in protein, it has a low capacity to absorb water which makes it ideal for (duh) pastry. (low protein=low gluten development=tender pie crust).
What is gluten anyway?
Flour has two main proteins, gliadin and glutenin. When water is added to flour, these two proteins combine to form gluten. Gluten is what provides structure and elasticity to dough. We want this in bread dough so our bread bakes up tall and is nice and chewy. Chewy is not what we’re looking for in a pie crust.
What is the difference between pastry flour and all purpose flour?
Mostly the protein content. All-purpose flour has a protein content of between 9.5% and 11% meaning that it can absorb more water and create more gluten in your pie crust, making it tougher and less tender.
What can I substitute for pastry flour?
If you can’t find pastry flour at the store you can substitute Wondra flour instead. What is Wondra flour? It is an flour that has been pre-cooked and dried. It’s also called instant flour because it dissolves quickly in hot liquids without forming lumps (making it ideal for gravy). It’s also low protein, between 9 and 10% which makes it a good fit for pastry.
How to make homemade pastry flour:
Instead of buying pastry flour or using Wondra as a substitute, it’s super easy to simply make your own pastry flour using all-purpose flour and cake flour. Use a ratio of 50% all-purpose flour to 50% cake flour for a tender dough. If your dough then tears to easily or you need a slightly sturdier dough, use 2/3 all-purpose flour to 1/3 cake flour.
If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute up to 1/3 of your all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour instead. Because the whole wheat berry is used (instead of just the endosperm) in whole wheat flour, it has a lower protein content and will act like pastry flour. You will simply have a heartier flavor to your crust. My whole wheat pie crust recipe is really easy and holds up well to hearty fillings.
For more information on what different kinds of flours are used for, check out my post on the difference between types of flours.
How To Make Homemade Pastry Flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- In a large bowl, stir together cake flour and all-purpose flour. Use anywhere pastry flour is called for.
- If not using within a couple months, store in airtight bag in freezer.
Did you make this recipe? Tag me @bakincareofbusiness on Instagram so I can see what you made!
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