Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Flour…The Other White “Stuff” That Gets All Over Your Kitchen Countertops While You Cook

Okay, so these last two posts have looked specifically at dredging your food in flour before frying…

But before we leave the topic of flour, let’s talk about the different flours that are actually out there.

 

Typically when we thnk about flour, we all imagine the white stuff in the biggest canisteron the left of the canister set…that stuff that used to be all over the kitchen when you were helping your Mom make cookies at Christmas time…no, not the sweet stuff…the stuff that you thought was powdered sugar, only to find out disappointedly that it wasn’t.

 

Even though most flour, such as the yucky-tasting white stuff, is milled from wheat…flour can also be milled from several other food products—such as corn, rice, nuts, legumes, seeds, amaranth, arrowroot, barley, buckwheat, chickpea, corn, kamut, oats, potato, quinoa, rye, soy, spelt, tapioca, and teff….(more on this later)…

 

Each of these flours is actually different than its counterparts, and choosing the right type of flour can totally make or break your end result…so it is important to know which type of flour is best suited to which different endeavor.

The basic difference between the several types of flours is the protein content. High-gluten flour is milled from hard wheat and has a high protein content,  Flours with such a higher protein content are often referred to as “harder” flours,.These flours are great for making crusty or chewy breads. Flours with a lower protein are often referred to as “softer” flours. These flours are better for cakes, cookies, and pie crusts.

1.  All-Purpose Flour…That white powder that you accidentally mistook for powdered sugar as a kid is most likely to have been all-purpose flour…the type of flour used most frequently here in the United States.
  • Gluten Content…All-purpose flour has a medium gluten protein content of 9.5-12%.
  • Best for…many bread and pizza bases, but most artisan bakers prefer other types of flour—such as bread flour.

 

 

 

2.  Bleached Flour…Bleached flour is not actually a type of flour in itself, but any type of flour that has been through a chemical process. Many manufacturers bleach flour so that it is more attractive.

  • Gluten Content…Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached.
  • Best for…pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.

 

 

 

3.  Bread Flour…Bread flour is made from hard, high-protein wheat…and often also contains ascorbic acid to increase volume and create better texture.  

  • Gluten Content…Bread flour has a higher gluten protein content—12% to 14%—than all-purpose
  • Best for…yeast products….because this additional protein in the flour helps the flour trap carbon dioxide released while the yeast is fermenting, making your breads rise higher and taste chewier.

 

 

 

4.  Cake Flour…Cake flour helps to keep your cakes from collapsing and improves their texture by distributing fat more evenly through the batter.

  • Gluten Content…Cake flour has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour—6% to 7%.
  • Best for…light, delicate products—such as sponge cakes and genoise

 

 

 

5.  Pastry Flour…Pastry flour is another type of flour made with soft wheat. that is able to hold foods such as cake together, while at the same time allowing you to create flaky crusts.

  • Gluten Content…Pastry flour has the second-lowest gluten protein content, with 7.5-9.5%
  • Best for…making tender, crumbly bread proeducts—such as biscuits, pie crusts, brownies, cookies, quick breads, tarts, and muffins.

 

 

 

6. Self-Rising fFour...Self-rising flour is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening—namely baking powder—already added.  Typically 1-1/4tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt have been added for 1C flour.  

The fact that you are buying a flour that already has the baking powder evenly distributed throughout the flour supposedly means that you will get a more consistent rise in baked goods. Honestly, I’ve been cooking for thirty-plus years and have only bought this stuff once.

Best for…especially suited for biscuits, muffins, cakes, pastries, and some quick breads, scones…,but never for yeast breads.  

 

 

 

7. Unbleached Flour…Unbleached flour is simply flour that hasn’t undergone bleaching and therefore doesn’t have the expected white color typically associated with flour. The process of using bleaching agents has been considered unhealthy by some…so this is why we have unbleached flour in the first place.

Best for…Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, lairs, cream puffs and popovers.

 

 

 

8.  Whole-Wheat Flour…Whole wheat flour contains more nutrients in general, especially having a higher fiber content.

Whole-wheat flour is derived from the complete wheat kernel, and is typically brown in color.

When compared to all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour gives your baked products more of a nutty flavor and denser texture. However, any breads made with whole wheat flour do nor rise as high as your typical white breads…so most bread recipes will call for a combination of the two.

Whote wheat flour is an example of a low-gluten flour.

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at a few more low-gluten and gluten-free flour alternatives.

 

 

Low-Gluten Flour Alternatives

 

1. Barley Flour

  • What…a non-wheat flour made from grinding whole barley
  • Taste…mild, but very slightly nutty
  • Nutrition…has slightly fewer calories and more than 4 times the fiber of all-purpose flour
  • Cooking Tips…When making yeast bread recipes, there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, and it is recommended swapping only one quarter of all-purpose flour.
  • Best for…quick breads and pancakes.

2, Pumpernickel Flour

  • What…made from coarsely-ground whole rye berries
  • Taste…pumpernickel breads tends to be dense, dark, and strongly flavored.

3. Rye Flours

  • What…rye flours typically fall into one of three categories—light, medium, and dark—depending on how much of the bran has been removed through the milling process
  • Nutrition…Rye bread may be a better choice than wheat bread for persons with diabetes.
  • Cooking Tips…When baking, substitute one-third of the amount of rye with wheat flour to ensure the bread will rise properly.

4. Spelt Flour

  • What…flour made from spelt, another member of the wheat family
  • Nutrition…the fats in spelt flour are more soluble than any other type of flour, making it a good choice for people who have issues with wheat digestion, but who are not “gluten”…also spelt flours have a higher nutritional content than traditional wheat flour
  • Taste…a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of whole wheat
  • Best for…one of the most popular and widely available of alternative baking flours

Gluten-Free Flours

 

1. Almond Flour

  • What…made from ground almonds
  • Best for…pastry crusts, cookies, and quick breads

2. Amaranth Flour

  • What…produced from ground amaranth, an ancient grain which was commonly used by the Aztecs
  • Nutrition…contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain and more protein than wheat flour.
  • Cooking Tips...Substitute up to 25% of the flour in your original recipe with this.

3. Buckwheat Flour

  • Taste…nutty
  • Uses…pancakes, soba noodles, crepes,

4. Chickpea Flour

  • What…made from dried chickpeas
  • Uses…a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistan, and Nepal cuisines
  • Cooking Tips…use as an egg substitute in vegan cookery….substitute up to half the amount of all-purpose flour called for in a recipe with chickpea flour

5. Coconut Flour

  • What…ground from dried, defatted coconut meat
  • Nutrition…highest fiber content of any flour, very low concentration of digestible carbohydrates
  • Taste…very light coconut flavor
  • Cooking Tips….replace up to 20% of the flour in a recipe, but add eggs and an equal amount of oil to compensate as this flour soaks up the liquid

6.  Corn Flour

  • What…made from finely-ground cornmeal
  • Uses…used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods…also used as a filler, binder and thickener in cookie, pastry and meat industries
  • tortillas, tamales’

7.  Millet Flour

  • What…made from millet, one of the oldest foods known and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes
  • Taste…naturally sweet flavor
  • Uses…most commonly used in desserts and sweet breads
  • Cooking Tips…When substituting for wheat flour, it is usually best to start with about a 3-to-1 ratio of wheat to millet.

6. Oat Flour

  • What…made from ground whole oats
  • Uses…to make a baked good more moist than wheat flour

7. Quinoa Flour

  • Nutrition…one of the most nutritious grain flour available
  • Uses…ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet
  • Cooking Tips…substitute this flour for half of the all-purpose flour called for in many recipes…also completely replace wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes

8. Rice Flour

  • What…can be made from finely ground grains of white or brown rice…which can be used interchangeably
  • Nutrition…lighter, milder, and easier to digest than wheat flour…bown rice flour has higher nutritional value than white rice flour
  • Uses…great as a thickening agent in sauces…widely used in Western countries especially for people who suffer from gluten-related disorders

9. Sorghum Flour

  • What…made from ground whole grains of the sorghum plant
  • Uses…very good substitute for wheat flour in many recipes, especially if combined with other, more denser, flours.

10. Soy Flour

  • What…made from ground soy beans
  • Uses…works best in sweet, rich, baked goods like cookies, soft yeast breads, and quick breads
  • Cooking Tips…substitute for 10% to 30% of flour called for in the recipe.

11. Tapioca Flour

  • What…made from the starch extracted from root of the South American cassava plant
  • Taste..slightly sweet
  • Uses…improves the texture of baked goods…also an ideal thickening agent for a wide variety of baked goods—such as breads and pancakes…as well sauces and desserts—such as tapioca pudding
  • Cooking TIps…use 2Tbsp tapioca flour for each 1Tbsp corn starch

12..Teff Flour

  • What…made from teff, an ancient and intriguing grain
  • Nutrition…packed with nutrition…higher in protein than wheat…has a high concentration of a wide variety of nutrients—including calcium, thiamin, and iron…very high in fiber …is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Uses…dark breads…of considerable importance in eastern Africa