Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant, SafeSourcing.
It’s that time of year again. Yes, baking for the holidays. From biscuits to bread, cookies, cakes and pies, baking is the art of turning flour into delicious foods. Flour is the finely milled wheat or other grains that give structure to baked goods; however, different baked goods require different structure. Choosing the right flour will better lead you to baking success. Choose the wrong flour could make for a baking disaster.
The Protein content is the primary differentiator in flours. High-protein wheat varieties (10-14 percent protein) is called “hard wheat. Low-protein wheats (5-10 percent protein) is called “soft wheat”. The more protein, the more gluten, thus equals more strength. More strength means more volume and a chewier texture. Doughs made from high-protein flours are more elastic and hold their shape better. This is desirable in breads and yeast products, where a firm structure is necessary; but conversely, undesirable in pastries and cakes where the goal is flakiness or tenderness. Unless flour is labeled “whole wheat”, all flour is white flour that is milled from the starchy innermost part of the wheat kernel (endosperm). The following is a list a flours.
All-Purpose Flour. If a recipe calls for flour, it is calling for all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is a staple. While it is not good for all purposes, it is the most versatile of flours. It can produce flaky pastry crusts, tender biscuits, and chewy breads. All-purpose flour can be bleached or unbleached.
Cake Flour. This flour has the lowest (5-8 percent). The relative lack of gluten-forming proteins make this flour the ideal choice for tender baked goods. Cake flour is generally chlorinated (a bleaching process that further weakens the gluten proteins and alters the flour’s starch which allows it to absorb more liquid and sugar.
Pastry Flour. An unbleached flour made from soft wheat with protein levels between cake flour and all-purple flour. It is a pan ideal flour for pies, tarts, and many types of cookies. You can make your own pastry flour by mixing 1 1/3 cups A-P flour and 2/3 cups of cake flour.
Bread Flour. This is the strongest of all flours. With a protein content of 12-14 percent, it provides the most structural support. In yeasted breads, where strong gluten is required to contain CO2 gases during the fermentation process, it not only makes for more volume and a chewier crumb, but also results s more browning of the crust. Bread flour can be white, whole wheat, bleached or unbleached. Unbleached AP flour can be a substitute for bread flour.
Self-Rising Flour. A flour where baking powder and salt have been added during milling. This has been a long-time Southern staple. Due to baking powder being added, the shelf life is only about six months. You can make your own by combining 1 cup pastry flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Whole Wheat Flour. When this flour is milled it is separate into three components- the endosperm, the germ (embryo) and the bran (the outer coating). Varying amounts of germ and bran are added back into the flour. This flour tends to produce heavier, denser baked goods. In most recipes whole wheat flour can be substituted for up to half AP flour. Whole wheat flour is much more perishable than AP flour because wheat germ is high in oils and prone to rancidity.
Gluten-Free Flour. Today there is a great variety of gluten-free flours available. It can be made from various grains, nuts, and starches. Rice flour blended with tapioca and potato starch is popular. A small amount of xanthan gum is added to simulate the chewiness in gluten.
SafeSourcing regularly sources flour for a variety of companies. For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.
Flour 101,Food Network,11/11/2017