ETYM French fleur de farine the flower (i.e., the best) of meal, cf. Spanish flor de la harina superfine flour, Icel. flür flower, flour. Related to Flower.
Fine powdery foodstuff obtained by grinding and sifting the meal of a cereal grain.
Foodstuff made by grinding starchy vegetable materials, usually cereal grains, into a fine powder. Flour may also be made from root vegetables such as potato and cassava, and from pulses such as soy beans and chick peas. The most commonly used cereal flour is wheat flour.
The properties of wheat flour depend on the strain of wheat used. Bread requires strong (“hard”) flour, with a high gluten content. Durum flour also has a high gluten content, and is used for pasta. Cakes and cookies are made from weak (“soft”) flour, containing less gluten. Granary flour contains malted flakes of wheat. Wheat flour may contain varying proportions of bran (husk) and wheatgerm (embryo), ranging from 100% wholemeal flour to refined white flour, which has less than 75% of the whole grain. Much of the flour available now is bleached to whiten it; bleaching also destroys some of its vitamin content, so synthetic vitamins are added instead.