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Old 01-04-2007, 04:35 AM   #1
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Help with corn flour/cornstarch?

First off: are the two substances absolutely the same and it's just a matter of a slightly different name here in the E.U.?

So I assumed, however, I never used to have trouble with corn starch in the U.S. and yet I do -- constantly -- with corn flour here. I have never found that I can use the exact amount called for in a U.S. recipe and have the recipe succeed. It never quite gels.

Meanwhile, however, adding more corn flour doesn't do the trick either. So I hit my "Joy" and read a little about corn starch, surprised to find that its handling CAN be difficult (and wondering how and why in heaven's name I got lucky when I was new at it, never having difficulty, and yet now, years later, it confounds me?)

Supposedly there are stages it goes through, each of which requires quite specific handling. I was just wondering if any of you out there generally have success and do indeed have a very clear idea of stages ... and if so, if you could help me understand how to make this stuff work for me?!

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Old 01-04-2007, 06:42 AM   #2
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It is my understanding that corn "flour" and corn "starch" are not the exact same thing. Corn starch is a commercial and home thickening agent used for puddings, gravies, etc. The "flour" here is more of a "breading" agent for say fried fish, chicken etc. However; where you are (EU) I think the terms are used differently...Flour being what I think of as starch etc. Now I suppose you are completely confused...I know I am.....
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Old 01-04-2007, 06:48 AM   #3
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Ayrton, cornflour is the same as cornstarch. In the U.S. it's known as cornstarch, whereas in most Commonwealth countries and in EU, it is referred to as cornflour. This link will throw some light on it. It is used as a thickener in gravy, pudding, filling, and to soften cake as well as a coating for deep fried stuff to make it more crispy. When using as a thickener, simply add water, mix well and then add to gravy etc. The type of cornflour that you should be looking for here is one that is packed in a 1/2 kg bag with the words corn flour written in Greek and has a picture of a maize in front. Sorry I cannot give you the manufacturer's name as I have transferred the cornflour in a tupperware and have thrown away the bag. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:18 AM   #4
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CORN FLOUR..

Is a powdery flour made of finely ground cornmeal, NOT to be confused with cornstarch. The EXCEPTION is in British recipes where the term "cornflour" is used synonymously with the U.S. word cornstarch. Corn flour comes in yellow and white and is used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods. Corn flour is milled from the whole kernel, while corn starch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernal. Masa Harina is a special corn flour that is the basic ingredient for corn tortillas. White corm flour blends well with other food ingredients and can be blended with wheat flour to reduce gluten for cakes, cookies etc. (Copied)
So corn starch, corn flour, Masa Harine, all come from corn...yet are different.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:51 AM   #5
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It appears that cornstarch has twice the thickening power of cornflour. Quoting from a google site:

Although flour is the traditional thickening agent in most cooking, cornstarch, also known as cornflour, is a fine, powdery flour ground from the endosperm, or white heart, of the corn kernel. People often wonder what the difference is between cornstarch and flour. Both are starches, but cornstarch is pure starch, while flour contains gluten. The gluten reduces the thickening power of flour, so lacking gluten, cornstarch has twice the thickening power of flour. Sauces thickened with cornstarch will be clear, rather than opaque, as with flour-based sauces, and it doesn't cause lumps like flour. Recipes thickened with corn starch have a brighter, more translucent appearance than those thickened with flour. Corn starch also blends more easily with liquids than flour because it doesn't absorb liquid until it's cooked.

Edited to read: Therefore if a recipe calls for 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch, you should use 1 tablespoon of cornflour.
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Old 01-04-2007, 08:48 AM   #6
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From my own experience/understanding, corn flour and corn starch is exactly the same, or at least work in exactly the same way. I use it both for thickening sauces, or to help my cakes etc. fluffing up, mixing it with regular flour.
One thing I learned early on while starting to experiment with corn flour/starch to thicken a sauce, is to always dissolve it in a small amount of liquid, be it water, milk, broth etc. and never to dump it directly, dry into the sauce (the sauce will remain liquidy with full of lumps this way.)

I personally never heard of different "stages", I don't know maybe the locally produced corn flour/starch in Greece has a unique procedure? If you have any doubt, try Maizena, which comes in a yellow carton available in most supermarkets in many parts of Europe. (Many people call corn flour/starch "maizena", just the same way many English speaking people call any facial tissues "Kleenex", or plasters "Band-aid" ). Then you will be sure that you get the "universal" corn flour/starch, I also have tried it and it works exactly the same way as the corn flour/starch I had always known.

edited: another thing came to my mind... does the "corn flour" you find in greece look and feel the same way as the substance you had known previously? Maybe it is actually something else, like masa harina or polenta type of corn product for other purpose, and the corn flour/starch of your question has a different, particular name. In Italy, potato starch, which also can be used like corn flour, is called "fecola" di patate, and the corn flour is called "amido" di maiz, both words fecola and amido can loosely mean starch, flour or likewise substance.
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Old 01-05-2007, 03:28 AM   #7
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Hi back -- sorry I'm late getting back to this but for some reason, this doesn't show up in my CP as a thread I'm involved with (!) so no helpful e-mails ...

Thanks for all info above. Just quickly to answer some of the points raised: yes, the "corn flour" I can find here feels and looks exactly like the "corn starch" I knew in the States -- it is very dissimilar to baking flour or any other corn products. And it's clearly intended for the same uses as corn starch if information on the box is to be trusted. Those are the reasons I find my difficulty with it so confounding!

Boufa, thanks for the Google text, but I read that to be a comparison between corn starch and regular (AP) flour -- corn flour's only mentioned briefly as another name for corn starch.

Urmaniac, I also add to cold liquid and dissolve first, as I always did with corn starch. It blends in well but just doesn't thicken as much as it should. Making a lemon meringue pie, for instance, I use the same recipe I've used since I was a kid, namely, the Betty Crocker recipe. So for half my life I used 2 T. (or whatever) of corn starch and it came out perfectly, and now I attempt the same thing and use 2 T. of corn flour and it invariably comes out more liquid-y than desirable. Aaaaargh!

The stuff I've generally bought is the package you're describing Boufa, although I've also tried the other brands available here. Right now I'm buying Carrefour's house brand so presumably it's French. It says "maizena" in small letters by the way, Urmaniac. But no matter what, not the same results!

Anyhow, let me get my "Joy" and share with y'all the section within about these so-called stages. She makes it sound rather scientific and precise -- odd. Then I'll whip up an experimental batch of something according to her instructions, and let you know, how's that?

Thanks everybody!
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Old 01-05-2007, 04:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton
Boufa, thanks for the Google text, but I read that to be a comparison between corn starch and regular (AP) flour -- corn flour's only mentioned briefly as another name for corn starch.

The stuff I've generally bought is the package you're describing Boufa, although I've also tried the other brands available here. Right now I'm buying Carrefour's house brand so presumably it's French. It says "maizena" in small letters by the way, Urmaniac. But no matter what, not the same results!
Ayrton, after re-reading the info extracted I agree that it was indeed referring to plain flour. In any case, I have used both the Greek cornflour and Maizena while back home and did not notice any difference. Of course I did not use it in pies. My only advice is to either increase the amount of cornflour to thicken the filling or to use tapioca flour as a substitute if it's available. Tapioca flour is starchier.
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Old 01-05-2007, 04:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
Ayrton, after re-reading the info extracted I agree that it was indeed referring to plain flour. In any case, I have used both the Greek cornflour and Maizena while back home and did not notice any difference. Of course I did not use it in pies. My only advice is to either increase the amount of cornflour to thicken the filling or to use tapioca flour as a substitute if it's available. Tapioca flour is starchier.
Thanks for the tapioca flour thought. Can we get it here??

As for the adding more, I tried -- to a rather grotesque degree which I gather is the method of choice for all sorts of troubled amateurs such as myself .

Supposedly -- and this is very weird, you must admit -- according to Joy, corn starch/flour actually LOSES thickening power if too much is added. I'd certainly have to attest to this from my recent attempts (both discarded which just infuriates me!).

Like I said, I'll get my book once I get home and quote the section. I'd be curious what y'all think!

Thanks again, Boufa.
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Old 01-05-2007, 04:58 AM   #10
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Can't say I agree with the statement that too much cornflour loses its thickening power. As an experiment, I just microwaved 1 tablespoon of cornflour with 2 tbsps water for less than 1 minute and it came out thick like a paste. I then added 1 more tbsp water, mixed it and cooked again. It was just right, smooth and glooey. I am sure if I add more cornflour it will be very thick. From my own experience, cornflour doesn't break down. The only flour I know that breaks down is potato flour/starch. The moment you reheat it, it becomes very watery. For some Asian desserts using potato flour and served hot, it's advisable to enjoy them while hot, otherwise you get a soup!! Besides tapioca and corn, there are also sago, glutinous rice and rice flour.
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