Classification for Six Types of Flour in France
Classification Ash content as % of Dry Matter Rate of Extraction (Correlative Method)
Type 45
Below 0.50
Type 55
from 0.50 to 0.60/0.62   
Type 65
from 0.62 to 0.75     
Type 80
from 0.75 to 0.90         
Type 110
from 1 to 1.20      
Type 150
above 1.40    

The flour testing is the process by which the miller determines the level of enzymes, the protein content and the ash content.

What's the ash content? It measures the amount of mineral content that remains in the flour after milling. A whole wheat flour which contains all of the wheat berry or kernel will have a high ash of 1.50 or so. When the wheat kernel is milled, the heart of the kernel, or endosperm, makes up the majority of a white flour. The further away the miller mills from the endosperm, the higher the ash content. Generally speaking, a lower ash content is preferable, since it means that the flour is the purest and closer to the heart of the wheat kernel.


In France : the ash content is used to classify the flours. Type 55 flour (T55) : 0.55% of the bran is left in the flour Type 150 (T150) is whole wheat flour. Most bakers are moving to T65 because consumers are interested in complementing their diet with more fiber. the greater the ash content, the more fermentation activity. For that reason, a smaller amount of yeast should be used in dough otherwise the fermentation will be too fast.

Protein : They indicates the amount of gluten available in the flour. Gluten is the substance that develops when the protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid. Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most breads, and bagels. For piecrusts, cookies, and pastry to be short and crumbly, a lower protein flour is better. Protein levels range from 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as 15% in high-gluten bread flour;


wheat kernel

Protein Content



Protein content in flour or wheat with Nitrogen Analyses (CNA).

Method : A sample of flour or ground wheat (0.15 to 0.20 grams) is weighed and placed into a CNA protein analyzer. This process is automated and begins by dropping the sample into a hot oven where it is burned at 952 degrees Celsius. The amount of nitrogen released during burning is measured and a formula is applied to convert the measurement to protein content in the sample.

Results: Protein content is determined through high temperature combustion in a protein analyzer. Since protein is the major wheat compound that contains nitrogen, the protein content can be determined by measuring the amount of nitrogen released during burning. Protein content results are expressed as a % of the total sample weight; for example, 10 % protein content on 12 % moisture basis for wheat or 8.5 % on 14 % moisture basis for flour.

Why is this important? Protein content is a key specification for wheat and flour purchasers since it is related to many processing properties, such as water absorption and gluten strength. Low protein content is desired for crisp or tender products, such as snacks or cakes. High protein content is desired for products with chewy texture, such as pan bread and hearth bread. Bakers use protein content results to anticipate water absorption and dough development time for processes and products, because higher protein content usually requires more water and a longer mixing time to achieve optimum dough consistency.

Ash Content

ash content

Ash content in flour or Wheat

Method : Flour or ground wheat (3/5 grams) is weighed and placed in an ash cup, then heated at 585 degrees Celsius in an ash oven until its weight is stable (usually overnight). The residue is cooled to room temperature and then weighed.

Results : Ash content is determined by high temperature incineration in an electric muffle furnace. When a sample is incinerated in an ash oven, the high temperature drives out the moisture and burns away all the organic materials (starch, protein, and oil), leaving only the ash. The residue (ash) is composed of the non-combustible, inorganic minerals that are concentrated in the bran layer. Ash content results for wheat or flour ash are expressed as a percentage of the initial sample weight; for example, wheat ash of 1.58 % or flour ash of 0.52 %. Wheat or flour ash is usually expressed on a common moisture basis of 14 %.

Why is this important? Millers need to know the overall mineral content of the wheat to achieve desired or specified ash levels in flour. Since ash is primarily concentrated in the bran, ash content in flour is an indication of the yield that can be expected during milling. It also indicates milling performance by indirectly revealing the amount of bran contamination in flour. Ash in flour can affect color, imparting a darker color to finished products. Some specialty products requiring particularly white flour call for low ash content while other products, such as whole wheat flour, have a high ash content.

Using Sprouted flours in bread making

Falling Number

The Falling Number method was first described by Hagberg and Perten in the early 1960's for the purpose of providing a rapid means of determining the extent of sprout damage in wheat or rye (Doty, 1980). It has found widespread acceptance because of its rapid analysis time, simple operation, and high degree of reproducibility (Pyler, 1986). Sprout damage in wheat is of critical concern if the end-use for the flour being milled is bread production. As little as 5% heavily sprouted wheat in a mill mix of otherwise sound grain can make the mixture unacceptable for bread production (Perten, 1985). The Falling Number Test, an internationally standardized method, measures the alpha-amylase enzyme activity in flour to determine how much sprout a grain has achieved and to assure the grain has not been drowned. While a lower falling number indicates high enzyme (sprouting) activity, it is very important to compare the falling number prior to sprouting with the falling number after sprouting to accurately measure how much sprout action has occurred. A grain that started with a falling number of 350 and is now 150 has sprouted more completely than a grain that started at 250 and is now 150. To assure that Breadlink Sprouted Flours contain the highest sprout action, our sprouted flours must always have a final falling number equal to or lower than half of the falling number prior to sprouting. High quality grain that has been sprouted and stabilized resulting in a low falling number is very difficult to achieve so beware of anyone making claims without documentation.

Sprouting in wheat results in a higher than normal level of alpha-amylase in the flour. Wheat that has been harvested before sprouting has occurred contains low levels of alpha-amylase (Posner, 1997). Alpha-amylase is of greater concern in bread production than ß-amylase for four reasons: (1) it is able to hydrolyze damaged raw starch; (2) it has a higher thermal stability allowing it to act on gelatinizing starch for 3-4 minutes when the interior of the bread loaf is 140-150F, (3) it is stable at the common pH of bread dough: 5.0 - 5.6, and (4) it is activated by calcium ions that inactivate ß-amylase (Pyler, 1986). In addition to this, ß-amylase is only able to act upon the non-reducing ends of starch chains from which it splits off maltose, and it is unable to act upon intact raw starch (Doty, 1980). The activity of ß-amylase is also dependent upon the level of starch damage in the flour as damaged starch has more sites at which ß-amylase can act. Starch is damaged in the milling process and typically accounts for around 8% of the total starch in hard wheat flours (Pyler, 1986).

a-amylase is far more able to reduce the long starch molecules into smaller pieces upon which the ß-amylase can act. a-amylase is able to act upon interior portions of the starch molecules. The result of this is that the ß-amylase now has more open sites upon which is can act and produce more maltose molecules: a source of energy for yeast involved in fermentation. It is the combined action of these two molecules that can convert nearly the entire starch molecule into fermentable sugar (Doty, 1980)

This amylolytic action in dough occurs once the dough ingredients are combined and mixed. The conversion of starch to maltose and other yeast fermentable sugars is critical to the bread baking process. This conversion results in several changes in dough properties including: a decrease in absorption capacity, a slackening of dough consistency, and the development of a stickier dough. The rate at which these changes occur is directly proportional to the amount of starch damage and a-amylase level of the flour. As we noted above, flour milled from sound, un-sprouted wheat has a very low amylase content and requires supplemental a-amylase to have the required functional properties for bread production. Hard wheat flours typically have a total sugar content of 1.5%. This level is initially boosted to 2.0 to 2.5% during mixing by the rapid action of a-amylase upon the damaged starch (Pyler, 1986).

Typically, wheat is harvested once the grain has dried to an appropriate moisture level that takes into consideration both optimality for harvest and suitability for prolonged storage. In a dry, normal growing season this is done before the grain has had a chance to germinate and sprout. The direct implication of this is that alpha-amylase levels are typically quite low and supplementation of the milled flour must occur. The Falling Number Method is used to measure the level of alpha-amylase activity in newly harvested wheat as a means of detecting sprout damage and as a method for determining the proper
supplementation rates of barley malt, or other alpha-amylase enrichment (Doty, 1980).

Bread flours with normal diastatic activity (milled from sound, un-sprouted wheat and supplemented with alpha-amylase through the addition of barley malt, or fungal amylase) typically having falling number values in the range of 220 to 250 seconds. Flours deficient in diastatic activity will typically have values in excess of 400 seconds and over supplemented flours or flour milled from sprout damaged wheat can have the minimum value of 60 seconds.

The Falling Number Method is based on the starch liquefying action of alpha-amylase and expresses this as the time in seconds required to stir and allow the stirrer to fall a measured distance through a heated aqueous flour gel that is undergoing liquefaction (Pyler, 1980). The instrument consists of a boiling water bath, a stirring head, and a timer. Also needed are, a test tube and a stirring rod. The stirring head consists of motors and gears which allows for precise and uniform stirring insuring reproducibility of the results (Doty, 1980).

The procedure for flour involves mixing 7 g of flour with 25 mL of distilled water in a test tube. The tube is shaken and the stirring rod is inserted and then the whole assembly is placed in the boiling water bath. The timer is automatically started and a stirring process is activated and continues for 55 seconds and a rate of 2 strokes per second. At the end of 60 seconds the stirring rod is released from the up position and allowed to fall through the heated flour-water slurry. Upon completion of the vertical fall the timer stops and displays the elapsed time in seconds (Pyler, 1986). The descent of the stirring rod through the slurry is related to the amylase activity of the sample. Upon completion of the stirring action the amylase present in the flour starts to break down the gelatinized starch reducing the viscosity of the slurry (Doty, 1980).

If analysis of a wheat sample is required then a 300 g sample is ground in a hammer mill to obtain a flour sample. From here the procedure is the same as above for the flour sample (Doty, 1980).

There are several factors that have the potential to affect the results of the Falling Number Method. These include the sampling method, the preparation of the samples, moisture content of the samples, boiling temperature (affected by altitude), heat treatment of the grain, and the stirring procedure (Perten, 1967). This last issue is not of particular importance today as the Falling Number Instruments most commonly found are fully automated and require little operator input aside from the initial shaking of the sample.

The falling number method as described is an absolutely essential analysis technique in both the milling and baking industries. As alpha-amylase plays such a critical role in baking, the development of this rapid, simple, and highly reproducible technique has proven to be invaluable.

Flour : Basic infos

A basic and indispensable food staple, can vary in quality and nutrition depending on the type of grain and the milling process used. Baking and cooking with a variety of whole grains adds nutrition to your meals.

The milling process affects the nutritional value and quality of the flour. Lower heat methods result in a nutritionally superior flour. Stone ground flour is milled by a slow process using granite stones, often powered by water which scatters the bran evenly through the flour and keeps the flour cooler than when ground with steel rollers. Although stone ground whole wheat flour is still available, most grains today are machine milled, with superior results.

Most of the whole grain flours sold in co-ops are milled by an impact or “hammer mill” that generates almost no heat so the grains do not get scorched. Our flour comes from companies that well-respected the milling high-quality products.

After milling, some flours are refined. The refining process strips away the fiber-rich bran and the germ which contains valuable vitamins and minerals. White flour can be made from refined whole wheat flour.

Flours labeled as wheat instead of whole wheat are often refined. Some refined flours have been enriched. This sounds a lot better than it is. Of the 22 nutrients that are lost in the refining process, only five are added back in the enrichment process. Whole grain flours are not refined and contain all of their valuable nutrients.

Bread Machines are convenient bread baking devices that allow you to have fresh, homebaked bread. A good place to start for making a whole grain loaf with your bread machine is to use one of the many bread mixes we carry. But remenber always to do a slow, low temperature proving.

If you want to make whole grain breads or even sprouted, be sure to buy the correct machine. It may be difficult to get a decent wheat-free bread from a machine. If you don’t use wheat, you may wish to continue making your bread by hand. A machine will never have a feel for working the dough, and therefore will not be able to make adjustments in kneading that can be made when bread is made by hand. Be aware that some machines can only produce loaves from white flour or a white and wheat combination.

People with Gluten Sensitivity All forms of wheat, barley, kamut, oats, rye, spelt and triticale contain gluten. Amaranth has minute traces of gluten. All other grains and flours do not contain gluten if processed in a gluten-free environment. Note also that , as explainned in our pages, the gluten is damaged and transformed by the sprouting. Although present, its transformation is radical. So much so that we have exemple of people allergic to gluten that can eat our sprouted flours .

Wheat Flours made from wheat are the most common. Wheat contains the most gluten. Gluten is a protein found in some grains that helps bread rise and keep its shape. Flours with more gluten make better breads.

All-purpose flour is a blend of whole wheat bread flour and whole wheat pastry flour. This makes it a good choice for any of your baking needs.

Durum flour is ground from durum wheat, the hardest wheat grown. Semolina is refined durum flour. It is the flour commonly used for making pasta. The bran and germ have been removed by an airsifting process, giving semolina pasta its characteristic light color.

Gluten flour is made from hard wheat that has been treated to remove some of its starch and concentrate its protein. Gluten flour contains at least 70 percent pure gluten. It can be added to low-gluten flours to lighten the loaf. This is a highly refined flour and should be used sparingly to improve bread rising capabilities.

Graham flour named after Sylvester Graham, an early crusader against commercial white bread, is a coarse ground whole wheat flour. Used alone, it produces a heavy, compact, dark bread.

Unbleached white flour is highly refined. Although it has not been bleached, most of the nutrients have been removed during the refining process. Unbleached white flour is unfornunately popular because of its versatility. It can be used for breads, pastries, cookies or cakes.

Whole wheat bread flour or hard whole wheat flour is ground from hard red spring or hard red winter wheat berries, and is the best for making breads and rolls. Whole wheat pastry flour or soft whole wheat flour is milled from soft winter wheat berries, a different variety of wheat than the one used for bread baking. It has the ability to hold a lot of fat, and is ideal for pastry and cake making. Breads made with whole wheat pastry flour will not rise.

Other Flours come from many sources including grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, nuts and carob, but each has its own baking properties and uses.

  • Amaranth flour has minute traces of gluten and combines well with other flours to make smooth textured breads, muffins, pancakes and cookies. Amaranth is an ancient Aztec food with an impressive amount of protein, fiber and minerals.
  • Barley flour adds a nutty, malty flavor to breads or pancakes. Barley is usually used as a whole grain or in malting, but it is also valuable as a flour because it gives breads a cake-like texture and pleasant sweetness. It can also be used as a thickener.
  • Brown rice flour is nuttier and richer tasting than white rice flour and also more nutritious. It is useful for making breads, cakes, muffins, or noodles. Brown rice flour contains no gluten. Keep refrigerated to prevent spoilage.
  • Buckwheat flour is full-bodied and earthy flavored, the traditional flour of Russian blini, French Brittany crepes, Japanese soba noodles, and of course, buckwheat pancakes. Gluten-free buckwheat isn’t really a grain, but a member of the rhubarb family.
  • Corn flour, more finely ground than cornmeal, is cream-colored, slightly sweet and gluten-free. It is not the same as cornstarch, which is used as a thickener.
  • Kamut flour is from a highly nutritious ancient form of wheat. Some people who are allergic to common wheat may not react to kamut. Use kamut flour for making breads with a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Millet flour, ground from whole millet, adds a nut-like, slightly sweet flavor to wheat breads. It is gluten-free and traditionally used in some African cuisines.
  • Oat flour is made by grinding oat groats to a fine consistency. Make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor or blender. It has only a small amount of gluten so if using it to make bread, add a gluten-containing flour to help it rise.
  • Potato flour is made from peeled and steamed potatoes that have been dried and ground. It is stark white and very fine. Used to thicken sauces, it can also be used the same way as brown rice flour. Potato flour is suitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
  • Rye flour produces a loaf with a full-bodied, bitter, slightly sour flavor. It does not contain enough gluten-forming proteins to raise loaves well by itself and the gluten it contains is delicate. Rye loaves should be kneaded gently to avoid breaking the gluten strands.
  • Soy flour and soya flour are richer in calcium and iron than wheat flour, gluten-free and high in protein. Soy flour is ground from raw soybeans; soya flour from lightly toasted soybeans. Both add a slightly sweet, pleasant flavor to bread. Loaves made with soy flour brown quickly.
  • Spelt flour is from a non-hybridized wheat with a long cultivation history. It works well as a bread flour and has an exceptional protein and fiber profile. Spelt gluten is highly water soluble so that it is easy to digest. Spelt flour may be a good wheat substitute for some people who are allergic to wheat.

Storage : Whole grain flours contain some fats that can go rancid. They should be refrigerated in an airtight container and used within three months.