Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Buy the girl, Flours!!!

Flour it seems basic enough, but when you go to the supermarket you see more varieties than you bargained for.  In this edition we will talk about flours and their uses.   There are many different flours out there, the most common and widely used is the All-Purpose Flour  When we think of what flour is made from we assume that it is just wheat, but surprisingly it can be ground from nuts and seeds, and the type you use is vital to the finished product.
When we talk about All-purpose Flour it is a blend of hard and soft wheat and can be bleached or unbleached.  When a flour is bleached naturally as it ages it is labeled "unbleached", while it's cousin "bleached" is treated chemically. I can hear you already, "What's the difference"? Bleached has less protein and works well in making pie crusts, cookies and quick breads to name a few.  The unbleached is better suited for the yeast breads.  Which leads me into the next type of flour the Bread Flour this flour is hard and made from a high-protein wheat, and has more gluten than the All-Purpose Flour.  Next for the serious baker we have Cake Flour and Pastry Flour.  The cake flour is a fine, soft wheat designed for making cakes with great volume or simply,better able to maintain that rise in the oven without collapsing.  This flour is chlorinated or bleached which in that process leaves the flour acidic, this in turn distributes the fat more evenly in the mixing process and improves the overall texture of the cake. Pastry flour is also made from soft wheat and falls somewhere between all-purpose and cake flour in terms of baking and protein.  Pastry flour is used mostly for biscuits, pie crusts, cookies and quick breads.  This flour is not recommended for yeast breads.
Self-Rising Flour is a phosphated flour, it has low-protein, and salt and baking powder added to it. This flour is well suited for biscuits, muffins and quick breads.  I would not recommend it for yeast breads.  You can make your own self-rising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsps of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt to every cup of flour you use.
Whole Wheat Flour is made from the whole kernel of wheat and is high in fiber, however it is not high in gluten, so often times it is mixed with all-purpose to increase the gluten level in order to make bread.
Semolina Flour this flour is the one that produces the best pasta dough, because it is made from Durum wheat which is the hardest wheat grown.  It has the highest levels of gluten. Because of the gluten content it is great for yeast breads and pasta.
In the last five years, I have noticed a rise in people with celiac disease. This is a auto-immune disease where the intestines have been damaged eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat,barley, rye and possibly oats. I am not familiar with all the wheat-free and gluten-free flours, so I can't begin to tell how to use them.  However I can list a few for you that I have seen. Arrowroot Flour, Brown rice Flour,Buckwheat Flour,Cornflour,Millet, Potato and White rice Flour. 

Welcome to the Church of Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray.~Author Unknown

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