Baking isn’t a secret art that only a chosen few get to experience. Anyone can become a great baker with time and practice. Aside from having good equipment to work with, having top quality ingredients is key. In addition, understanding what role your ingredients play is also important.
If you are baking something, odds are good that it has some amount of flour in it. Flour is the foundation for whatever you are making. It gives your product structure. What you are making and the type of end result you are looking for determines what type of flour one uses. Certain flours will make a fluffier, light bread. Others will end up with a heavy, dense one.
As the name says, all-purpose flour is a standard for many different types of products. It comes in bleached and unbleached and works well in almost everything. It is also the least expensive. It can be purchased in 5 and 10 pound bags at the grocery store. Most basic recipes call for all-purpose flour, including those for scones, chocolate chips cookies and biscuits.
In additional to all-purpose, there are many flours used for specific outcomes. These include cake flour, self-rising flour, bread flour, whole wheat, rye, oat and soy flours. Which one you choose will affect how your product turns out.
As the name suggests, cake flour is used for making cakes and fine pastries. It has a low protein content, typically about seven percent, and is able to hold large amounts of fat and sugar, which produces a tender crumb. Cake flour is made from the soft part of the wheat called endosperm. Not surprisingly, this is the most tender part of the wheat. It’s then goes through a heavy milling process to make it extra fine and fluffy.
Self-rising flour is not quite as popular but still used for specific recipes. It is simply all-purpose flour with salt and a leavening agent added. If your recipe calls for this, you can buy it at the store or make your own.
Bread flour is a high protein flour used specifically for bread. It has a high gluten content. While it can be used for regular all-purpose flour in a pinch, it won’t produce the tender crumb desired in pastries and desserts.
Whole wheat, rye, oat and soy flours have unique characteristics all their own. They are definitely in the “specialty” flour category and should be used with care in recipes that don’t call for them.
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Source by Walter Reade Ph. D.
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