is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to email@example.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4
Not only is flour considered the most beneficial ingredient in baking, but also it is an ingredient found in almost every household kitchen.
Although there is a variety of flours available, many are made from wheat.
The main varieties of wheat flour available will vary slightly from store to store, but will typically be all-purpose, cake-andpastry, and bread flour. Wheat produced into flour can be separated into two categories: hard or soft kernel. The milling process begins at separating the bran, germ, and endosperm of the wheat categories. It is from the endosperm that flour, as we know it, is milled into a powder.
Whole-wheat flours, on the other hand, are made from milling together all three components of the wheat kernel, not just the endosperm.
The flour from hard wheat contains a higher gluten content than soft wheat. Higher gluten is beneficial to creating structure in baked goods, such as breads and pizza crusts. When flour is mixed with a liquid, the gluten is responsible for the elasticity of dough.
Cake-and-pastry flour is made entirely from soft wheat, for a low gluten content, to ensure the tenderness of delicate goods. It is therefore generally used with leaveners, such as baking powder, baking soda, and/or eggs, and then keeping agitation/mixing to a minimum.
Bread flour is made entirely from hard wheat, to provide a high gluten content to ensure texture in breads. Yeast is almost always the leavener with bread flour. The elastic strands of dough capture yeast gases as it bakes, giving the bread height and structure.
All-purpose flour is a mixture of hard and soft wheat, and functions as its name indicates. It is good for all applications, but it is not ideal.
Superior quality baked goods will always start from the correct selection of flour.
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