From Chapter 8: Formulating — Home vs. Commercial Flours


Among the problems of adapting home recipes for commercial use is flour style. Home bakers have a much more limited palette of flours than do commercial bakers, although the number of different flour types has grown with the advent of the home bread machine. Still, the formulator seeking inspiration from home recipes will need to “translate” the home kitchen’s flour into commercial styles.


Little attention is paid to all-purpose and family flours in the classic milling texts for a simple reason: The vast majority of flour is milled for commercial use. At the present time, family flour accounts for less than 10% of all flour sold in the US and self-rising flour, 1%.


Self-rising and phosphated flour

Self-rising flour contains baking powder (sodium bicarbonate and a phosphate leavening acid) and, usually, salt. Matz (1991) described the manufacture of self-rising flour through both batch and continuous processes. Self-rising flour has long been popular for making biscuits and has remained a staple in the kitchen cupboards of Southern homes (Ensminger 1994). Because the moisture naturally present in flour can activate the baking powder component, self-rising flour can lose its leavening power over time.


In the US, the federal government established Standards of Identity for many types of flour (21 CFR 137). Included are phosphated and self-rising flours, both milled from wheat and used primarily by consumers rather than commercial bakers. Phosphated flour contains monocalcium phosphate, while self-rising flour is defined in 21 CFR 137.180 as made with “sodium bicarbonate and one or more of the acid-reacting substances monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate and sodium aluminum phosphate. It is seasoned with salt.” The standard limits chemical leavening components to 4.5 parts per 100 parts of flour. Self-rising white cornmeal is also identified (21 CFR 137.270) with the same limits on leavening components as self-rising flour.


When testing formulations that call for self-rising or phosphated flour, it is always better to begin with bread flour and add the chemical leavening ingredients separately. The 4.5-parts-per-cwt level of the Standard of Identity provides a good starting point for such additions.




Ensminger, A. 1994. Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL.


Matz, S.A. 1991. The Chemistry and Technology of Cereals as Food and Feed, 2nd ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold: McAllen, TX.


More on this topic can be found in “Baking Science & Technology, 4th ed., Vol. II,” Page 170, by E.J. Pyler

and L.A. Gorton. Details are in ourstore.