Life in Wassenaar
One Family's view of the World
By: Muna Mahdzar Fadaaq

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Friday, 6-Apr-2007 18:51 Email | Share | Bookmark
Kitchen Conundrum--fascinating facts to fibrillate your follicle

I was having a chat with Pengiran Hajijah about food, surprise, surprise. She was asking me about different types of flour available. I thought this might be an interesting topic to share in this site. I'll start off with flour and bring in other topics in later submission.
There you go, Kak Hajijah, I hope this helps........

All-Purpose Flour
As the name suggests, all-purpose flour is suitable for most purposes and is perhaps the most commonly used wheat flour for general baking and cooking.
All-purpose wheat flour is available in bleached and unbleached varieties. The advantage of using bleached flour rather than unbleached is that the chemicals used for bleaching (usually chlorine, which evaporates after it is added to the flour) act as a preservative so that the flour will not develop an off flavor or spoil after a short period. The chemicals also prevent dough from becoming discolored and provide more consistent results when baking, however the chemicals affect the gluten strength of the flour, therefore bread makers often prefer unbleached flour. Unbleached all-purpose flour is often better for preparing several types of dough because the dough is easier to handle and the resulting baked goods are quite tender.
All-purpose flour can be used for almost any recipe requiring flour such as breads, cakes, and pastries; as a coating for meat, vegetables, and other food items intended for frying or sautéing; and as a thickening agent for gravies, sauces, and stews.

Bread Flour
Bread flour is unbleached, high-gluten flour that typically contains 99.9 % hard wheat flour with malted barley added to increase the yeast activity, making it ideal for bread making. The high gluten content is necessary in order for bread to rise effectively. The use of bread flour results in larger bread loaves with a lighter and less crumbly texture. Bread flour is most often used in the commercial baking industry and is often confused with gluten flour, which has a higher gluten content than bread flour. Bread flour is also referred to as unbleached flour.

Cake Flour
Cake flour is produced from the endosperm portion of the wheat kernel of soft wheat varieties. It is high in starch and has a low protein content, which means that it contains very little gluten, making it suitable for cake recipes.
If cake flour is not available, cornstarch makes a good substitute. All-purpose flour can also be used although the results will not be quite as light and airy. Subtract 2 tablespoons from each cup specified in the recipe when using all-purpose flour as a substitute for cake flour.

Enriched Flour
Enriched flours have been processed from grain to remove the bran and germ, bleached to whiten the appearance, and then reformulated with nutrients, such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin D, iron, and calcium added in accordance with established government guidelines. It is necessary to add the nutrients because of the removal of the bran and germ, which contain most of the nutrients found in wheat grain. The main advantage in removing the oily germ is that flour keeps for much longer periods.
Gluten Flour
Gluten flour is produced from hard wheat that has been treated to remove the starch. It contains a greater percentage of gluten (at least 70% pure) than other types of flour and a lower percentage of starch. The gluten content of the flour has nearly twice the strength of regular wheat flour. Gluten is the protein that gives bread its elastic quality and aids in the rising process of the dough.
Gluten flour is most often used as an additive for various flours that are low in gluten or are gluten free, but it tends to toughen bread if used in excess. It is very useful for the preparation of pizza dough, bagels, and flat breads and rolls. It is often confused with bread flour, which is fortified with additional gluten, but has a lower gluten content than gluten flour.

Self-rising Flour
Self-rising flour is wheat flour in which the leavening agent has already been added. The leavening agent is generally in the form of baking powder. Salt is also commonly added to the mixture, so the sodium content is much higher than other types of flour. Self-rising flour is most often included in commercially prepared packaged mixes, such as cake mixes, and was developed as a means of saving time for the home cook. Self-rising flour should not be used in preparing yeast breads and it is also worth noting that the leavening agent tends to lose its effectiveness the longer the flour is stored. Self-rising flour may also be referred to as biscuit mix.

Whole-wheat Flour
Whole-wheat flour is produced from grinding the full wheat berry (kernel). All parts of the wheat berry are used in the flour including the bran, germ, and the endosperm, which when milled, creates the speckled brown color that is characteristic of the flour. Three granulations (particle size) of whole-wheat are produced: fine, medium, and coarse. The particle size influences the rate liquid is absorbed into the flour. Finer grained flour absorbs liquid at a faster rate than medium or coarse grains, thus affecting the preparation of the dough.Fine grain whole-wheat flour is used for all types of baked goods, such as breads, rolls, and pastries. Medium grained can be used for the same types of foods, but will provide a coarser crumb. Coarse whole-wheat flour has a much larger bran particle and consequently is most often used to provide breads with natural, nutty flavors and rough textures.
Whole-wheat flour used alone in bread making results in a nutritious, but smaller and denser loaf due to the bran, which hinders the dough from rising fully. In order to create a bread loaf that is a bit lighter and of greater volume, it is often best to combine whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour or bread flour.

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