Flour made from wheat grains is the most satisfactory type for baked products that require spongy structure.
In modern usage, the word flour alone usually refers to wheat flour, the major type in Western countries.
Corn flour has been important in Mesoamerican cuisine since ancient times and remains a staple in the Americas.
Rye flour is a constituent of bread in central Europe.
Some types of flour are made from rice.
The earliest archaeological evidence for wheat seeds crushed between simple millstones to make flour dates to 6000 BC.
The Romans made flour by grinding seeds on cone mills, combination of two stone of which one, upper, is convex and other, bottom, concave. Upper was turned by an animal while the bottom stood still.
In time, different mechanisms of grinding of flour were invented. Ancient Greeks had watermills before 71 BC. Grain was fed between millstone, which was turned by the mechanism powered by water, and bedstone and grinded into powder.
After watermills, appeared mills that were powered by wind. The earliest known windmills were used by the Persians in 500-900 AD and by the Chinese in 1200 AD. The first windmill manufactured in the United States was designed by Daniel Halladay, who began inventing windmills in 1854 in his Connecticut machine shop.
In 1879, at the beginning of the Industrial Era, the first steam mill was erected in London.
When the vitamins were discovered and their connection with diseases found during the 1930s, flour was enriched with iron, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. Folic acid was added in the 1990s.
The English word “flour” is originally a variant of the word “flower“ and both words derive from the Old French fleur or flour, which had the literal meaning “blossom”, and a figurative meaning “the finest”. The phrase “fleur de farine” meant “the finest part of the meal”, since flour resulted from the elimination of coarse and unwanted matter from the grain during milling.
There are nine different types of wheat flour: cake flour, pastry flour, plain or all-purpose flour, bread flour, hard flour, gluten flour, unbleached flour and self-raising flour.
Acorn flour is made from ground acorns and can be used as a substitute for wheat flour.
Banana flour has been traditionally made of green bananas for thousands of years.
Bean flour is a flour produced from pulverized dried or ripe beans.
Cassava flour is made from the root of the cassava plant.
Chestnut flour is popular in some parts of Europe for breads, cakes and pastas.
Coconut flour is made from ground coconut meat and has the highest fiber content of any flour.
Coffee flour is flour usually made with either coffee cherrys or coffee beans.
Pea flour is a flour produced from roasted and pulverized yellow field peas.
Peanut flour made from shelled cooked peanuts is a high-protein alternative to regular flour.
Potato starch flour is obtained by grinding the tubers to a pulp and removing the fibre and protein by water-washing.
Potato flour, often confused with potato starch, is a peeled, cooked potato powder of mashed, mostly drum-dried and ground potato flakes using the whole potato and thus containing the protein and some of the fibres of the potato.
Human creativity is reflected in the production of flour, the many types of flours produced, and the diversity of baked foods that are prepared with flour. The use in breads, cakes, pies and other foods reflects not only people’s physical needs (food for survival), but also their inner desire for joy.