Wheat Flour (white flour) is used to produce a wide range of popular bakery and snack products, including breads, muffins, waffles, pizza crusts, cookies, crackers, and ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals. The wheat flour gives these products their uniform, light-colored appearance and smooth, non-gritty texture.
When the protein found in wheat flour comes in contact with water and heat, it produces the protein gluten (glutenin) (i.e., the protein formed when wheat flour is made into batter or dough), which gives baked goods their elasticity, extensibility, and strength. The more gluten in flour, the greater the batter viscosity and the darker and crispier the fried food made with it. The gluten also makes it easier for the flour to build up a tough structure able to trap the waste gases of yeast during kneading. Less gluten, conversely, produces a lighter, less chewy texture such as that found in cakes.
Different types of flour contain varying amounts of protein. The exact amount of gluten in flour depends on how it was milled and the variations in growth of the crop. The strength of the flour depends on the quality of the gluten present. Weak flour contains less gluten than strong flours, with the type of flour used affecting the finished product.