Are All Purpose Flour and Plain Flour the Same Thing?

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You’ll see recipes with one/the other listed, depending on where in the world you are – but are all purpose flour and plain flour the same thing? Doesn’t it feel as if there are a bazillion different types and kinds of flour these days? Take a look at a handful of flour-based recipes on the internet, and I bet you’ll find at least two or three different types listed.

But let’s focus on two specifically right now:

Are All Purpose Flour and Plain Flour the Same Thing?

In short, yes, all purpose flour and plain flour are basically the same thing.

All purpose flour is the American name.

Plain flour is the British/UK name.

If you’re in the UK, reading an American recipe that calls for all purpose flour, you will want to head to the supermarket and buy plain flour.

If you’re in the US, reading a British recipe that calls for plain flour, you will want to head to the grocery store and buy all purpose flour.

What is Plain Flour/All Purpose Flour?

Plain or all purpose flour is flour that does not have a rising agent, also known as a leavening agent. Unless you add a rising agent, such as yeast or baking powder, whatever you are making is probably not going to rise.

Self-raising flour, as the name suggests, has a rising agent. Because of this, it is great for cakes and other baked goods that are meant to rise.

You can turn all purpose or plain flour into self-raising flour, but you cannot turn self-raising flour into all purpose or plain flour.

What is All Purpose Flour/Plain Flour Used For?

All purpose (also known as AP flour) or plain flour is known for being a very versatile type, used in a wide variety of recipes. You can make pizza dough with all purpose flour, alongside muffins, pastry dishes, many kinds of cake, biscuits, and all different kinds of bread.

Here are a few recipe examples that call for all purpose or plain flour:

Sticky Toffee Banana Bread

Sticky Toffee Banana Bread – BBC Good Food

Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws – Yummly

Courgette & Goat’s Cheese Tart

The name – plain flour – is actually very apt; it is very plain in practically every way. It has a very bland taste, which makes it a great base for a wide variety of flavours, both savoury and sweet.

Are All Purpose Flour and Plain Flour the Same Thing - featured image

Photo by Kaboompics .com / Unsplash

What to Do if You Don’t Have All Purpose/Plain Flour in Your Kitchen?

If you don’t have all purpose or plain flour in your kitchen, there are other types you can use in a recipe. These include:

  • Oat flour
  • Rye flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Rice flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Gluten-free flour mix
  • Gram flour

You will want to pick the right flour type for the job, so to speak. Not all all purpose/plain flours alternatives will work in all recipes.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

If you need a gluten-free alternative for plain flour, coconut flour is a great substitute.

Chickpea flour is a great substitute for all purpose or plain flour in some cases, but because it absorbs a lot of moisture (more so than AP/plain), it’s not a great choice if you’re making something like bread or cakes.

If you want something you can use in a straight 1:1 swap, almond flour is great – but only if you don’t have a nut allergy.

You will very often need to tweak the amount of substitute flour you use in place of all purpose or plain flour; otherwise, your dish could end up too stodgy, too dry, or just a complete mess.

One example of this is with buckwheat flour. If the recipe calls for 100g of all purpose or plain flour, you should use only around 25g. You can always add a little more if you need to, but you can’t take it away once it’s already in there!

(Words to live by, to be quite honest with you!)

I hope I’ve managed to answer your question today, but if you have a cooking question of your own, feel free to submit it right here.

By Buzzy Kitchen

Lovers of food, owners of opinions, pleased to share!