A close up of some lab equipment


Understanding how wheat is grown, harvested and milled into flour is critical to understanding which flour will produce the best results for you. Here are key insights into the world of wheat and flour.

Understanding Wheat

Click the wheat classes to learn more about each one.

Hard Red Winter

Hard Red Spring

Soft Red Winter

Soft White

Hard White


  • Medium hard endosperm
  • Red bran
  • Protein content ranges from 9.5% to 13.5%
  • Medium gluten content and mellow gluten.

Growing Regions

Exported mainly from the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and California. There are quality differences in each of the three growing regions.

Typical Applications

Very versatile in a wide variety of applications.


  • Hard endosperm
  • Red bran
  • Protein ranges from 12% to 15%
  • Strong gluten with good extensibility
  • High water absorption
  • Excellent “improver wheat” in blends.

Growing Regions

Exported mainly through the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes. There are quality differences between the growing regions.

Typical Applications

  • Variety breads
  • Tortillas
  • Improver flour in blends for a large variety of products.
  • Variety breads
  • Tortillas
  • Improver flour in blends for a large variety of products.


  • Soft endosperm
  • Red bran
  • Protein ranges from 8% - 11%
  • Weak gluten
  • Normally the lowest priced U.S. class

Growing Regions

Some soft red winter is exported from the Great Lakes and from the Atlantic, but most is shipped from the Mississippi River ports.

Typical Applications

  • Pastries, cakes, cookies
  • Crackers, pretzels
  • Blending flours to reduce gluten strength


  • Soft endosperm
  • White bran – excellent flour color at higher extraction rates
  • Protein ranges from 8.5% - 11.5%
  • Weak gluten
  • Low moisture, low impurity level give excellent milling results

Growing Regions

Virtually all Soft White Wheat is grown in the Pacific Northwest.

Typical Applications

  • Cakes, biscuits, pastries
  • Snack foods and crackers
  • Wafers and cones
  • Flat breads
  • Blends for Asian style noodles
  • Blends for “mellowing” strong wheats


  • Hard white endosperm
  • White bran
  • Protein ranges from 10% - 15%
  • Majority used domestically; only limited quantities available

Growing Regions

Hard White is very limited in available supply, especially higher protein levels. Some export via the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Northwest and California.

Typical Applications

  • Asian noodles
  • Whole wheat white flour
  • Whole wheat pan and flat breads

Wheat photos courtesy of U.S. Wheat Associates

Learn More

Understanding Flour

Flour quality, consistent performance and overall specifications can significantly impact the results of a baked product. Everything from appearance, to crumb to moth feel is an effect of the performance of the flour. Watch the videos from our series, Dough With Dave to learn more about flour performance from our very own Bakery Technical Support Manager.

All About Flour

Protein Content

Falling Number Test

Farinograph Test

Understanding Flour Specifications

It’s important to understand some of the main characteristics of flour and how each plays a role in the dough absorption, development, and quality attributes of the final product. Below are specifications you might see on your flour overview. Click each one to learn more.


Properly tempered Hard Wheat, will produce flour with a moisture of approximately 14%. Soft Wheats require less temper, so they usually have a lower moisture. Flour moisture will fluctuate after milling, during transport and storage in silos due to weather and environmental conditions.


Ash is the mineral content of a flour.  Determined by burning a given quantity of flour and measuring the residue, the mineral or ash content may be affected by factors such as the variety of wheat and growing conditions (environment).


The protein content in wheat varies greatly depending on the type of wheat, with soft wheat having the lowest protein content and hard wheat having the highest. Generally, flour with higher protein content absorbs water better, and therefore has greater bread volume potential.

Falling Number

The Falling Number test is used to measure the activity level of the alpha amylase enzyme. The more alpha amylase present, the faster it will break down the complex starch (flour/water paste) into simpler sugars. Most specifications require a Falling Number between 225 and 275. A lower falling number can result in reduced mixing strength, sticky dough or lower loaf volume and shelf life.

Farinograph Absorption

The farinograph measures the percentage of water required to completely hydrate a flour. To a baker, a change in farinograph absorption may indicate potential change to water in the bake formula.

Farinograph Peak

Peak Time is the amount of time required during mixing to completely develop the gluten in a dough.

Farinograph MTI

Mixing Tolerance Index (MTI) – Reflects a dough’s tolerance to mixing.  A lower MTI would produce a flatter farinograph curve; indicating a stronger flour.

Farinograph Stability

The total time a dough can be mixed before showing weakness and overmixing.

Flour Safe Handling Recommendations

Remember…flour is a raw ingredient and must be further processed to control microbial pathogens. This video, brought to you by The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and the Candadian National Millers Association (CNMA), is a great resource for the proper handling of raw products containing flour.

SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: Raw flour is not ready-to-eat and must be thoroughly cooked before eating. Do not eat or play with raw dough; wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after handling.

Tips & Formulas

Below you will find some dough tips and common formulas from our Grain Craft experts.


Check out these ingredient tips to achieve consistent and quality dough.

Dough Preparation

Consistency is the key. Join Grain Craft’s bakery tech manager, Dave Krishock, for some helpful tips on processing your dough and preparing it for ideal baking conditions.

  • Mixing

  • Scaling

  • Fermentation

  • Mixing Dough

  • Overmixing Dough

  • Water Absorption

Tech Team

Grain Craft offers Technical Service experts to ensure our products are performing as expected at all times. They are available to work directly with our bakery customers as a technical resource for dough and baking questions. They also work very closely with the Grain Craft quality assurance and test lab teams to advise on new harvest testing.

  • Brian Smith

    Manager of Regulatory Compliance & Documents

    Brian Smith is based at the Grain Craft McPherson, Kansas mill. He recently celebrated his 15th anniversary with Grain Craft and holds the role of Manager of Regulatory Compliance & Documents.  Brian earned a degree in Bakery Science at Kansas State University and has been in the food industry his entire career - in operations, quality, and food safety. He has experience with many kinds of foods and ingredients throughout his career including cookies, pastries, Danish, donuts, pies, cheesecakes, potato salad, cole slaw, meat salads, pasta salads, gelatin desserts, sour cream, pizza crust, tortillas, flour, and more. He is currently a member of the NAMA Technical Food Safety Subcommittee and the ABA Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee.

  • Charlie Nave

    Director of Technical Services

    Charlie joined Miner Milling in 2004, which later became Grain Craft when the company purchased Cereal Food Processors. Nave is a graduate of the American Institute of Baking and has gained hands on experience through his service in many roles throughout the baking industry.

  • Dave Krishock

    Bakery Technical Support Manager

    Dave is known as a baking science expert throughout the flour and baking industry. Krishock is a graduate of the American Institute of Baking and also managed his own bakery in Highlands, NC for five years. Most recently Krishock served as Production Manager for City Bakery in Asheville, NC.

  • Kevin Kloberdanz

    Manager of Quality Systems

    Kevin began his journey with Grain Craft as a lab technician in Ogden, UT. He transferred to work as the Quality Assurance manager at Grain Craft’s mill in Great Falls, MT before returning to Utah as a Quality Assurance Manager and then Regional Quality Manager. Kevin’s diverse experience includes graduating from Weber State University with a degree in Zoology and Chemistry before working in pet food manufacturing and in a milk processing plant.

  • Reuben McLean

    Sr. Director Quality & Regulatory

    Reuben started his career at Pendleton Flour Mills as a QA manager in the Blackfoot, ID facility and most recently worked as the Manager of Quality & Audit Compliance. For 4 years Reuben worked with the University of Idaho Wheat Breeding Program, and has a B.S. in Crop Science from Utah State University and a Master’s in Plant Science from the University of Idaho.

  • Victor Nieto

    Manager of Food Safety

    Victor started his career at Pendleton Flour Mills as a Lab Technician in the Blackfoot, ID facility and most recently worked as the Manager of Quality & Audit Compliance.

  • Kathy Brower

    GCIQ Lab Manager

    Kathy is a Manhattan, KS native and graduate of Kansas State University with degrees in Food Science & Industry and Spanish. She has spent over 14 years in the food industry in various roles with international corporations. As the daughter of a Kansas wheat farmer, she has respect for the journey of the wheat kernel from farm to fork and is dedicated to baking best practices.

Virtual Flour Mill Tour

Get an inside look at flour milling and Grain Craft’s commitment to excellence. For more information on the flour milling process you can also follow along on the infographic below.