I thought I would spend some time talking about flour…
Types of Flour: Flour that is used in baking comes mainly for wheat, although it can be milled from corn, rice, nuts, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables. The type of flour used is vital at getting the product right. Different types of flours are suited to different items and all flours are different you cannot switch from one type to another without consequences that could ruin the recipe. To achieve success in baking, it is important to know what the right flour is for the job!
All Purpose Flour: Is a blend of hard and soft wheat; it may be bleached or unbleached. It is usually translated as “plain flour”. All-purpose flour is one of the most commonly used and readily accessible flour in the United States. Flour that is bleached naturally as it ages is labeled “unbleached”. Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached works best for pie crusts, quick breads, pancakes, and waffles. Use unbleached flour for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, eclairs, cream puffs and popovers. Shelf-Life: For cabinet storage, up to 8 months if properly stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and for refrigerator storage, up to one year.
Bread Flour: Is white flour made from hard, high protein wheat. It has more gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour. It is unbleached and sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid, which increases volume and creates better texture. This is the best choice for yeast products. Shelf Life: Several months in a cool, dry cabinet when stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and up to one year in the freezer.
Buckwheat Flour: Is gluten-free which makes it a good choice for anybody with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. It is packed with nutrients, readily available, easy to work with and had nice nutty flavor.
Cake Flour: Is a fine textured, soft-wheat flour with high starch content. It has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour. It is chlorinated, a bleaching process which leaves the flour slightly acidic, sets a cake faster and distributes fat more evenly through the batter to improve texture. When your making baked goods with a high ratio of sugar to flour, this flour will be better able to hold its rise and will be less liable to collapse. This flour is used in some quick breads, muffins and cookies. If you cannot find cake flour, substitute bleached all-purpose flour, but subtract 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup used in the recipe. If using volume measuring.
Gluten Flour: Is usually milled flour from spring wheat and is high protein, It is used primarily for diabetic breads, or mixed with other non-wheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure.
Instant Flour: (Wondra from Gold Medal) is granular and formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids. It will not work as a substitute for all-purpose flour, although there are recipes on the container for popovers and other baked goods. It is used primarily in sauces and gravies.
Organic Flour: Is made in the same way as regular flour. It must follow U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations to be labeled “organic”. Using this flour is a matter of personal preference.
Pastry Flour: Is also made with soft wheat and falls somewhere between all-purpose flour and cake flour in terms of protein content and baking properties. Use it for making biscuits, pie crusts, brownies, cookies, and quick breads. Pastry flour makes a tender but crumbly pastry. Do not use it for yeast breads. Pastry flour (both whole-wheat and regular) is not readily available at supermarkets, but you can find it at specialty stores and online.
Rice Flour: Rice flour (also called Mochiko on Japanese and Pirinc, Unu in Turkish) is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. It can be made from either white or brown.
Self-Rising Flour: Sometimes referred to as phosphated flour, is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening already added. It’s most often recommended for biscuits and some quick breads, but never for yeast breads. Exact formulas, including the type of baking powder used, vary by manufacturer. Recipes that call for self-rising flour do not call for the addition of salt or leavening agents. To make your own self-rising flour: Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of all-purpose flour into a container. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix to combine.
Semolina Flour: Is used in making pasta and Italian puddings. It is from durum wheat, the hardest type of wheat grown. The flour is highest in gluten. When other grains, such as rice or corn, are similarly ground, they are referred to as “semolina” with the grain’s name added, ie, “corn semolina” or rice semolina. There are difference of grades. 1. Semolina flour is finely ground endosperm of durum wheat. 2. Semolina meal is a coarsely ground cereal like farina. 3. Wheatina is ground whole-grain wheat. 4. Durum flour is finely ground semolina and is grown almost exclusively in North Dakota.
Spelt Flour: Is one of the most popular and widely available non-wheat flours. The full name of spelt is Triticum Aestivum Var, Spelta. Spelt flour has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of whole wheat flour. It does contain gluten and is a popular substitute for wheat in baked goods.
Teff Flour: Teff flour is an ancient and intriguing grain, tiny in size yet packed with nutrition. It is simple to prepare and similar to millet or quinoa in cooking. Teff is a great addition to your diet for nutrition, taste and variety.It is higher in protein than wheat and has a high concentration of a wide variety of nutrients, including calcium, thiamine, and iron. The iron from teff is easily absorbed by the body. Since the grains are small, the bulk of the grain is germ and brand. It is very high in fiber and is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control sugar levels. Teff contains no gluten which makes it a suitable grain for celiac or people with wheat sensitivities. Due to its nutritional content and energy enhancing properties, it has also gained favor with athletes.
Whole-Wheat Flour: Is made from the whole kernel of wheat and is higher in dietary fiber and overall nutrient content than white flours. It does not have as high a gluten level, so often it’s mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast breads. Whole wheat flour is equivalent to British whole wheat flour. Shelf Life: 6-8 months in the freezer if stored in tighty sealed plastic containers or if tightly wrapped. It will keep for only a few months if stored in a cabinet. Due to the presence of wheat germ, resulting in a unsaturated oil content that is higher than in refined flour. The potential for rancidity is greater if whole-wheat flour is kept for long periods and particularly if it is not stored under refrigerated conditions. It is best to store whole-wheat in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Buy FLour: Look for tightly sealed bags or boxes. Flours in torn packages or in open bins are exposed to air and to insect contamination.
How to Store FLour: Flour must be kept cool and dry. All flours, even white flours, have a limited shelf life. Millers recommend that flours be stored for no more than 6-8 months. The main change that occurs is the oxidation of oils when flour is exposed to air. The result of this is rancid off flavors. During hot weather, store flour in the refrigerator. Flour should be stored, covered, in a cool dry area. This prevents the flour from absorbing moisture and orders and from attracting insects and rodents. Freezing flour for 48 hours before it is stored will kill any weevil or insect eggs already in the flour. It is better not to mix new flour with old flour if you are not using the flour regularly. Do not store flour near soap powder, onions, or other foods and products with strong orders. If freezer space is available, flour can be repackaged in airtight, moisture-proof containers, labeled and placed in the freezer at 0 degrees F. If flour is stored like this, it will keep well for 6-8 months. Keep whole-wheat flour in the refrigerator the year around. Natural oils cause this flour to turn rancid quickly at room temperature. Throw away if is smells bad, changes color, or is invested with insects.
Until next time everyone…