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Old 03-09-2015, 04:13 PM   #11
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I tend to have a lot of different flours. I used an Indian flour to make the pooris yesterday, chickpea flour to make the coating for the Gobi. I also have wild rice, brown rice, barley, and white rice flours, a flour made from a white lentil (can't remember the name of it), whole wheat, rye, whole wheat pastry flour, pastry flour, cake flour, AP, spelt flour, graham flour, and a couple of different multigrain flours, buckwheat flour, red fife flour, and unbleached flour. And corn flours.
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Old 03-09-2015, 06:26 PM   #12
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The typical American recipe for baking, unless otherwise stated, when stating to use flour, is referring to All Purpose (AP) flour. Very rarely do you find recipes today that call for self rising flour for a cake.

Sometimes a recipe for bread will specify Unbleached Flour. This is often referred to as Bread Flour in the recipe.

Most AP flour is made from hard winter wheat. In the Southern part of the country, they prefer to use soft wheat flour for their biscuits. And in that instance, it does make a difference in making biscuits from scratch. They seem to rise higher and are lighter.

The one other flour that is found in a lot of homes is Semolina Flour. This is used in making pasta by hand from scratch.

For the average day in your kitchen, I would suggest that you keep AP on hand. It is used in making cakes, cookies. creating sauces, and a multitude of other dishes.

Today's recipes suggest that you no long need to sift your flour. Just whisk it thoroughly. Some recipes will state to add 2-3 cups of "Sifted" flour. This is when you will be glad you have your mother's old sifter. There is a big difference between a cup of sifted flour that has passed through a sifter and a cup of flour that doesn't call for sifting first.

My preference is to measure out the flour called for in the recipe. After I have all the dry ingredients measured out and combined, rather than just whisk it, I will then sift it. Only after I have measure EVERYTHING out. I still have the right amount of dry ingredients, just lighter in volume. It makes for a much lighter cake and cookies.

But if the recipe calls for 2 cups of sifted flour, the AP flour must be sifted first with all the other dry ingredients. Measure out the amount of flour called for in the recipe, and then sift it. You will find some left over flour that can go back into your flour bin. When measuring out the sifted flour, spoon it into your measuring cup. Don't scoop it like you would normally do.

If you have a kitchen scale, weigh a sifted cup of flour against a cup of flour that you have sifted after measuring. You will see why it is important that you pay attention to added "sifted flour" to sifting after measuring.

Any questions? Just ask!
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Old 03-09-2015, 06:30 PM   #13
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Since I've been "teaching" the young lads how to bake, we've been weighing flour and applying baker's percentage. I have noticed a difference in the pie crust dough when we've used pastry flour vs. AP.
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Old 03-09-2015, 06:31 PM   #14
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I grew up with plain old unbleached AP flour.

If we needed cake flour we added two tablespoons of cornstarch to the bottom of each cup of flour and sifted the mixture three times.

For self rising flour we added 1 1/2 t of baking powder and a 1/4 t of salt to the bottom of each cup of flour and sifted the mixture.
I am sorry to see that we have gotten away from sifting the dry ingredients. Just whisking is does not do it for me. I feel that sifting all the dry ingredients together makes for a lighter end product. Yes, I have one of those sifters that you crank with the handle on the side. And it gets a lot of use in my kitchen.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:18 PM   #15
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I am glad you mentioned sifting I always wondered either to measure first then sift or sift into the cup. It does make a big difference with dry ingredients since they can be packed and the end result may be more flour than the recipe calls for.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:18 PM   #16
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I try to formulate all of my cake recipes with all purpose flour. While cake flour is very often the best choice, I always have all purpose on hand.

I do like bread flour for bread and pizza dough.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:23 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Addie View Post
...Sometimes a recipe for bread will specify Unbleached Flour. This is often referred to as Bread Flour in the recipe. ...
Any flour can be unbleached. King Arthur flours are unbleached, both AP and bread flours. Some national brands are all bleached.
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:18 PM   #18
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Another question I've always wondered about....do brands of flours make any difference in the product?
Like King Arthur or Lilly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post

Most AP flour is made from hard winter wheat. In the Southern part of the country, they prefer to use soft wheat flour for their biscuits. And in that instance, it does make a difference in making biscuits from scratch. They seem to rise higher and are lighter.
Any questions? Just ask!
OK so what's "hard winter wheat" and "soft wheat flour"? I assume their claim to fame with "soft wheat flour" is they are superior to lets say, Gold Medal all purpose four. Sounds like a marketing ploy with northern vs. southern to me, but I've been known to be wrong.
The west is neutral.
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:25 PM   #19
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Hard flour is bread flour. It has more gluten than soft flour, which is cake/pastry flour. AP flour is pretty much half hard flour and half soft flour.

BTW, if you feel hard flour with your fingers, it feels slightly sandy. If you feel soft flour, it feels soft and powdery.
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:57 PM   #20
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To get a little more technical, hard wheat yields flours with higher protein content. Higher protein flours create more gluten when used in a recipe. Higher gluten content results in a tougher/chewier product. Think hearty breads.

Soft wheat yields flours with lower protein content that creates less gluten. The result is a softer more tender product. Think cakes and pastries.

AP flour is a compromise product that can work for breads and cakes.
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