Are you unsure what the actual differences between corn flour and the common flour used for baking are? This article provides you with answers.
Corn flour is basically ground-dried corn kernel. It adds a sweet, crispy flavor to fish and meat when used as a coating before frying. It’s also excellent for making pies and cakes.
On the other hand, the flour used for baking is made from wheat. Cake flour, bread flour, all-purpose flour, durum flour, and self-rising flour are processed from wheat. You can use wheat flour to coat food before frying too.
What is corn flour?
Corn flour is ground, dried corn kernel processed into fine powder. Since it is a product of the entire corn kernels which includes the germ, hull, and endosperm.
As a result, it contains the same minerals present in whole corn. It is rich in fiber, protein, iron, vitamin, potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients.
Additionally, corn flour is gluten-free which makes it good for individuals who are gluten intolerant. Corn flour can be used in pancake and pie recipes but its lack of gluten doesn’t allow it to rise like wheat flour.
It adds an earthy, sweet, and corn-like taste to food and is typically pale-yellow just like corn.
Uses for corn flour
Below are some of the commonest ways to use corn flour:
Corn flour serves as an excellent alternative to wheat flour especially when baking foods like pancakes and waffles that do not require its dough to rise.
Moreso, as gluten-free flour, it can replace wheat flour when baking cakes and bread for those who are gluten intolerant. Only that the result would be dry and dense. ]
Corn flour is popular in use as a coating for food before frying. It adds tasty corn flavor and crispy finish to fish, meat, shrimps, etc., when used as a coating for them.
Naming practices among countries
It is important that we understand the naming practices across different countries. What American refer to as cornstarch is called corn flour in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and many parts of Europe.
They also refer to corn flour as cornmeal. Whereas in the United States cornmeal is ground dried corn which could be fine, medium, or coarse.
So, if you’re watching a show or reading a recipe and cooking instructions that are not America-based, corn flour may mean cornstarch, and cornmeal may be what you know as corn flour.
If you’re still not sure what they mean, find out the product’s usage in the recipe. If the product is used for baking, then it’s most likely corn flour. But if it’s used as a thickening agent, then it’s cornstarch.
Corn flour vs. cornmeal
Compared to corn meal, corn flour is more finely milled. Cornmeal varies texture from coarse to medium, to fine. Cornmeal is commonly used to make cornbread, polenta, and grits.
Corn flour on the other hand can be used to make cakes, pies, and waffles. It adds corn taste to food but it isn’t as pronounced as using cornmeal in your recipe.
Corn flour vs. cornstarch
Corn flour is made by grinding the entire corn kernel while cornstarch is extracted as pure starch from the endosperm and germ of corn.
The processing of cornstarch involves soaking the whole corn kernel and milling both the germ and the endosperm after it is softened. Cornstarch serves as a thickening agent in stew, sauces, and gravies.
What is wheat flour?
Wheat flour is ground wheat basically for human consumption. Wheat is the source of baking flour which comes in varieties based on gluten present.
The varieties of wheat are classified as soft or hard. Soft wheat has low gluten content and results in the dough with a finer and crumbly texture which is needed for cake and pastries. Hence, cake and pastry flour are examples of soft flour.
Conversely, hard flour has a high gluten content of 12 to 14 percent which makes it perfect for making bread.
Types of wheat flour
Some of the varieties of wheat flour include:
1. Cake flour
This is a fine white flour processed from soft wheat. It is the flour with the lowest amount of gluten with 8 to 10 percent which makes it the best for baking cakes and cookies.
Cakes need to be airy and fluffy, but, using other flour with high protein will result in a tough and chewy finish.
2. Bread flour
Bread flour is flour with high gluten content made from hard wheat. It has a gluten content of about 10 to 13 percent and is perfect for making bread.
The dough of bread flour has an elastic toughness and holds up well into shape when mixed with water. And the color can be white, whole wheat, or in between.
3. All-purpose flour
All-purpose flour is gotten from the combination of hard and soft flour, as such, it contains less gluten than bread flour and a little more than bread flour. Its gluten content ranges from 9 to 12 percent.
It can serve for baking cakes or bread giving almost the same result required in each food.
4. Self-rising flour
Self-rising flour is white flour that is premixed with leavening agents before sales. Basically, you do not need to add baking powder or soda to them before baking. Generally, it comprises flour baking powder, and salt.
5. Pastry flour
Pastry flour also made from soft wheat contains more gluten than cake flour but less than all-purpose flour. The gluten present ranges from 9 to 10 percent and is excellent for making cookies, muffins, pie, tarts, biscuits, and the like.
It is available as white flour, whole-wheat flour, or white flour with the germ retained but not the bran. The process of making pastry flour involves sieving the flour to reduce the amount of lump present.
6. Durum flour
Durum flour is the popular flour used in making pasta, traditional pizza, and flatbread. It is sourced from durum wheat a very hard variety of wheat. Semolina is also a product of durum wheat.
Differences between corn flour and wheat flour
1. Corn flour vs flour source
First off, corn flour is made from ground dried corn while flour is gotten from wheat. Corn flour is basically used in recipes to add a corn-like taste to food, whereas flour gotten from wheat is what everyone uses for baking.
2. Corn flour vs flour for breading
When it comes to frying, corn flour works particularly well because they fry up crispier than wheat flour. They also absorb less moisture and fat during the frying process, making the products less greasy.
3. Corn flour vs flour calories
Wheat offers you more calories, with 339 calories per 100 grams, whereas corn only offers 86 calories for the same amount. Additionally, corn flour is free of gluten while wheat flour has gluten present in them.
4. Corn flour vs flour as a thickener
Wheat flour can act as a thickener to make a roux. By mixing it with fat, you can use it to thicken soups, sauces, gravies, and stew. It adds a nutty flavor to food.
Corn flour is also good for thickening. However, cornstarch is the major corn product used for thickening food. It has twice the thickening power of flour and can be really difficult to reheat, so be careful not to overuse it.
Is corn flour healthier than flour?
Since wheat flour is richer in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and calories, it is, therefore, healthier than corn flour.
What are corn flour substitutes?
Some alternatives for corn flour include rice flour, cornmeal, cake flour, all-purpose flour, and masa harina, among others.
What is the best flour for thickening food?
All-purpose flour is best for thickening food because it contains a balanced amount of gluten.
Corn flour vs flour: conclusion
This article clearly states that corn flour is different from traditional flour. Traditional baking flour is a product of wheat which could be hard or soft. Soft wheat is low in gluten and is used for making cake flour and pastry flour. Hard wheat is used for making bread flour.
Corn flour is the result of the ground-dried corn kernel. It can replace a percentage of flour in your recipe when making cakes, pies, waffles, and bread. It adds a sweet, earthy corn-like taste to your food. You can also both flour and corn flour to coat fried food for a crispy finish.
Wheat flour is the traditional flour for thickening soup, gravies, and sauces. But cornstarch which is the starch derived from corn is also perfect for thickening.
Finally, you can read this article to know if you can use cornstarch instead of baking powder for baking.
I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.