All Purpose Flour vs Plain Flour: What’s the Difference?


Is all purpose flour the same as plain flour? Yes, they are. Find out more about the different types of flour and whether you can substitute plain flour for all purpose flour in your recipes. Let’s dive in!

What is All Purpose Flour?

All purpose flour is a versatile flour with a moderate protein content. It falls between high protein flour, like bread flour, and low protein flour, like cake flour. This makes it suitable for a wide range of recipes, from yeast breads to cookies. When a recipe doesn’t specify the type of flour to use, all purpose flour is a safe bet. Just remember to weigh it using a food scale for consistent results.

All-purpose flour is made from a combination of hard wheat and soft wheat. It is highly refined and not a whole grain flour.

Bleached Wheat Flour vs Unbleached

You can find both bleached and unbleached all purpose flour. Bleached flour is whiter and has a softer texture, while unbleached flour provides more texture in baked goods.

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Percent Protein and Type of Wheat

Plain flour and all purpose flour typically contain 7-12% protein, depending on the brand. Different brands may have slightly different protein percentages. Here’s a table with some popular all purpose flour brands and their protein percentages:

(Flour Brand, Protein Percent)

  • Lily White All Purpose Flour
  • Martha White All Purpose Flour
  • Hodgson Mill All Purpose Flour
  • Pillsbury All Purpose Flour
  • Gold Medal All Purpose Flour
  • Heckers All Purpose Flour
  • King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • Italian Type 0 Flour (Paolo Mariani brand)
  • Euro 550 Flour
  • French T55 Flour (Francine brand)

Is All-Purpose Flour Plain or Self-Raising Flour?

All purpose flour is plain flour without baking powder. In the U.S., self-rising flour is all purpose flour mixed with baking powder and salt. British self-raising flour is similar, but it doesn’t contain salt.

How to Make Self-Raising Flour from Plain Flour

To make self-raising flour from plain flour, mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder with 1 cup of plain flour. This can be used as a substitute for 1 cup of self-rising flour in recipes.

Is All-Purpose Flour Plain Flour in Australia and the UK?

In Australia, all-purpose flour is called plain flour. The same applies to the UK. However, it’s worth noting that American and European flours differ slightly due to the types of wheat used.

Other Names for All Purpose Flour

All purpose flour is also known as:

  • White flour
  • AP flour
  • APF
  • Wheat flour
  • Enriched wheat flour
  • Maida flour

Is Wheat Flour the Same as Plain Flour?

In the U.S., wheat flour is another name for plain white flour. However, it should not be confused with whole wheat flour, which is made from the whole grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.

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Is Bread Flour the Same as Plain Flour?

No, bread flour and plain flour are not the same. Bread flour has a higher protein content (12-14%) compared to plain flour (7-12%). The gluten in bread flour provides structure and elasticity to bread recipes. Use plain flour for delicate items like pastries.

How to Make Bread Flour from All Purpose Flour

To make bread flour from all purpose flour, add 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of flour. Use this mixture as a substitute for 1 cup of bread flour in recipes.

Is Cake Flour the Same as Plain Flour?

Cake flour is not the same as plain flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content (5-8%) compared to plain flour (10-12%). Cake flour is best for delicate baked goods, while plain flour works well for breads and sturdier items.

How to Make All Purpose Flour from Cake Flour

To substitute cake flour with all purpose flour, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour for each cup of all purpose flour.

Is Pastry Flour the Same as Plain Flour?

No, pastry flour and plain flour are different. Pastry flour has a lower protein content (8-9%) compared to plain flour (10-12%).

Flour Nutrition Information

Here is the nutrition information for all purpose flour (Gold Medal Brand, ¼-cup serving):

  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Potassium: 40mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 22g
  • Fiber: less than 1g
  • Net Carbs: 22g
  • Sugars: less than 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Iron: 6% DV
  • Thiamin: 10% DV
  • Riboflavin: 6% DV
  • Niacin: 8% DV
  • Folic Acid: 10% DV
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  • Can I substitute corn flour for plain flour? Corn flour can be used as a substitute for plain flour in certain recipes, but it may not work as a perfect 1:1 substitute in baking recipes due to its gluten-free nature.
  • Where can I use all purpose flour? All purpose flour is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including crackers, bread, pizza dough, muffins, cookies, biscuits, pie crusts, pasta, fried chicken, sauces, and more.


Now that you know the difference between all purpose flour and plain flour, you can confidently substitute one for the other in your recipes. Experiment with different types of flour to create unique flavors and textures. Happy cooking!

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