Plain flour or self raising flour, which flour is best for the job?

Flour mills produce a range of around 400 different flour types for their customers in bakeries and other food businesses. Plain flour and self raising flour are just two of the many types. There is a more limited range available in retail outlets; but which is best for the job?

It is worth noting that UK flour is not bleached.

The following is a quick guide.

Plain flour or self raising flour?

Dish Flour required More help
Batter Plain flour Take a look at our trouble-shooting page on batter to help avoid the pitfalls of batter
Biscuits Plain flour We know you’re sweet enough, so why not give these savoury biscuits a try.
Bread Strong flour AKA breadmaking flour A good loaf is a great thing. So if you’re new to breadmaking or thinking of taking it up, head over to our ‘getting started’ section to hone your skills.
Cakes Self-raising flour (or plain flour with baking powder) Paul Hollywood shows you his top tips for perfecting your cake-making skills in our troubleshooting video
Crumpets Strong flour AKA breadmaking flour Take a look at our crumpet recipe and follow our top tips for making your own crumpet rings!
Pancakes Plain flour Watch our trouble-shooting video, with Paul Hollywood as he helps you avoid the most common mistakes in making pancakes
Pastry Plain flour Find out our top tips for getting perfect pastry in our step-by-step photographic guide
Pizza Strong flour AKA breadmaking flour Get the children in your life into the kitchen baking these delicious funny face pizzas
Scones Self-raising flour OR strong flour Conventional wisdom suggests using self-raising flour. But baking God, Paul Hollywood, uses strong breadmaking flour. Try out his recipe and see what you think.
Sauces Plain flour (or cornflour) If you’re new to making a sauce from scratch take a look at our photographic step-by-step guide to a foolproof sauce
 Yorkshire puddings Plain flour Take a look at our trouble-shooting page for all the best info on making batters and Yorkies

You can also find more information on flour types in our booklet Flours for homebaking including information on which companies produce what flours and which supermarkets supply them.

Flour conversions

There are different systems for categorising flour in the UK, European countries and the USA. The table below provides a rough indication of equivalence. However the situation is more complicated and can depend on the protein content of the flour and the type of wheat used by the miller.

UK Germany France Italy USA
100% wholemeal Type 1700 Type 150 Integrale Wholewheat
Brown Type 1050 Type 110 2 First clear flour
Lightbrown Type 812 Type 80 1 High gluten flour
White Type 550 Type 55 0 All purpose flour
Patent white Type 405 Type 45 00 Pastry flour

In general, for European flour grades, the lower the number the whiter the flour.

NB: White flour is not bleached in the UK or Europe, though it may be in other parts of the world.