Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Types and Grinds of Flour

Flour, Cereals, Food, Nutrition, Bread Since the coronavirus hit, certain staples are much harder to find.  One such item is flour.  Just regular wheat flour.  I had someone look for plain, ordinary, unbleached flour.  She couldn't find it and ended up buying cake flour.  She said it had more protein but it didn't make a good bread.  I looked it up and found out why it didn't work.

So today, I'm looking at the different types of white flour you can buy.  I use white flour because I have a member of the house who cannot have wheat germ and wheat bran.

Flour is made from either soft or hard wheat or a mix of the two.  Hard wheat refers to a bronze colored wheat that is higher in gluten while soft wheat is  lighter colored and has less gluten with more starch.  In general, harder wheats are higher in protein and the gluten is much better for making bread because the gluten makes an elastic dough.  Soft wheat is used more often for making biscuits, pancakes, and sauces.

The flour most people use is an All Purpose flour made up of a combination of both hard and soft wheat with a protein level of 10 to 12 percent.  Although it is not the best flour for certain type of baking, it is used for everything from pie crusts to biscuits to breads.  It has a softer texture but it is able to provide structure for baked goods.

Next is cake flour, just like the stuff I tried to make bread with.  Cake flour has the lowest amount of protein, only in the 5 to 8 percent range which means it has less gluten, and it does not produce an elastic dough when used in bread.  In addition, the cake flour is treated so the gluten is further broken down so it is able to absorb more liquid and sugar.  When used in a cake, it produces a tender texture with fine crumbs and is able to rise well.

Then there is pastry flour.  This flour is made from soft wheat so it is also a low in gluten with a protein level between the all purpose and cake flours, coming in at 8 or 9 percents.  It is made so the pastry, pies, or cookies are more flaky and tender than when made with any other type of flour.  Furthermore, it is the best flour to use when using baking powder or baking soda as the leavening agent.

Bread flour has one of the highest levels of protein between 12 and 14 percent.  This type of flour is able to provide the best structural support to hold the carbon dioxide that is released by the yeast.  This flour requires lots of kneading to release the gluten needed to help the bread rise more, end up with a chewier texture and brown better.

Whole wheat flours can be found in the same all purpose, pastry, and bread choices but it still has the germ and bran which has been removed for white flour.  Whole wheat comes in regular which means it is more processed than stone ground.  Stone Ground flour is less processed than regular whole wheat with more fat, bran, and germ because the bran and germ are not removed and then added back in like regular whole wheat flour.  To be classified as whole wheat flour, at least 51% of the bran and germ removed during the milling process is returned to the mixture.

Now you know why the cake flour didn't work when I tried to make bread with it because it was the only flour I had.  I'll have to make cakes with it and hope I find regular flour the next time I go shopping.  Let me now what you think, I'd love to hear.  have a great day.

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