Sunday, June 29, 2008

Facts about flour

Flours differ considerably and can affect one's baking significantly. A recipe tested with one type of flour can be a total disaster if done with another, yet recipes rarely mention which flour one should use.
One very important fact about flour is the protein content. As a package label this will be listed as grams of protein per cup of flour. It is important to read the nutrional facts listed in the label.

The main protein components in white flour after milling are gelatin and glutenin which, only with the addition of water and the mechanical action of mixing, come together to form gluten. Milk, eggs and other liquids can also act on the glutenin of flour.

What is gluten?
It is an elastic network of molecules that gives the dough its springy structure, and more importantly, gives dough the ability to retain the carbon dioxide gas produced by the action of yeast.

What are the different types of flour?
  1. Bread flour - contains 13% protein, about 14 g protein per cup of flour. It is used for making bread.
  2. All-purpose flour - 9-13% protein, about 10-13 g protein per cup of flour. |It is also best for bread, short pastry and chemically leavened doughs.
  3. Cake flour - It weighs 2 g of protein per cup of flour which is just 1.8%. It is best for cakes.

Notes on Flour:
  1. Measure by weight. If you do not have a weighing scale, spoon ingredients into a dry measuring cup and sweep off excess with a knife or spatula. Do not tap it against the working surface.
  2. Use a low-gluten flour with 11% of protein or less.
  3. Sift flour to remove lumps and aerate it.
  4. Substituting shortening for 1/4 cup to 1/3 of the butter will give a flakier dough. This is good for using with a high-gluten flour. However, the taste will be inferior to that of a pure butter crust.
  5. Flour kept in a freezer yields a flakier pastry.
Notes on adding liquid:
  1. The less liquid and more fat used, the shorter the dough will be;
  2. The more liquid and the more you knead the dough, the more elastic and tougher it will be. You are turning it into a tough dough or maybe bread.
Source: Gene Gonzales and Jill Sandique. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROFESSIONAL COOKING AND BAKING, Anvil Publishing, 2002

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