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I asked for "brown" flour at my bakery and they gave me this but I am not sure if it is whole wheat flour since it isn't white enough like I thought it would be. Is this whole wheat flour or something else, it's also pretty coarse compared to other flours. Any thoughts?

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    Rye maybe? Does it smell like anything, what's the texture when you wet it? Do you have receipt-- what does it say on there? – Dugan Dec 12 '19 at 22:39
  • @Dugan No receipt, it smells earthy and maybe roasted.Tried wetting it and it got mushy, pretty soft when I touch it no rough pieces. – user29568 Dec 12 '19 at 23:14
  • @Dugan Could it be everything but the white flour, so like the germ and the bran? – user29568 Dec 12 '19 at 23:39
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    @user29568: Well, it could be anything, but I wrote my answer based on the idea that you asked for flour and that the bakery gave you flour. It seems unlikely that a bakery would give you a mixture of germ and bran if you ask for "flour," as it won't work well as flour in recipes. (Plus the texture of only germ/bran would likely be quite coarse and probably not turning immediately "mushy" and soft upon wetting it.) – Athanasius Dec 13 '19 at 1:25
  • Could that be bread crumbs? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_crumbs – Johannes_B Dec 13 '19 at 4:39
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I'm not sure what you mean by "whole wheat" flour. If you truly mean wholemeal flour where all the germ and bran are left in, then it can definitely look this color and texture. The variety of wheat can also influence the color (e.g., harder wheats are sometimes darker).

The term "brown flour" is ambiguous, but I know it can sometimes refer to a ~85% extraction flour (see here and here, for example). 85% extraction means that 15% of the "whole grain" elements are removed (like bran and germ), compared to normal "white flour" which is typically around 70-75% extraction. Such "brown flour" is sometimes referred to as "whole wheat" too, but it's generally lighter in color.

Assuming they gave you wheat flour, my guess is that it's just a higher extraction rate than typical 85% "brown flour" and/or a different wheat variety. If you asked for "whole wheat," they could potentially have given you a 100% extraction (wholemeal) flour, which could definitely be this color.

As for the coarseness, that just depends on the milling. Frequently whole grain flours are milled somewhat coarser (even "stone-milled" in a more traditional manner). Aside from a rustic texture, it's more practical, as finely grinding the bran and germ requires more effort, and it's counterproductive as it causes the flour to become stale faster. (The bran and germ will spoil faster than the endosperm/white flour portion, and increasing surface area through fine grinding will increase the rate of staling.) Also, even in a relatively finely ground whole wheat flour, the rough edges of the bran and germ can make the flour feel coarser, even with a similar particle size.

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  • It's just the color that threw me off. It does smell very much like bran too, so that's why I was thinking where has all the white flour gone. I guess I'll test it and see how it works in breads. You sure do know a lot about bread-making, so thanks again, Athanasius. – user29568 Dec 13 '19 at 9:25
  • @user29568: Yes, I'd just try making bread with it and see what happens. As I said in my other comment, it could be lots of things, but if they make baguettes with it, it's probably just a wholemeal flour. I suppose it could also be a blend with other grains too; now that you say you're in Lebanon, I don't know what local practice is there. – Athanasius Dec 13 '19 at 18:22
  • It turned out to be fine bran by the way. – user29568 Jan 5 '20 at 22:49
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It may be buckwheat flour, which in my experience looks a lot darker than wheat (even "whole wheat") flour. It also has a nutty or "earthy" smell to it, and a more robust flavor.

(I've never used it for bread, but it make fantastic pancakes!)

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