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Rise And Shine: The Basics Of Baking

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Aaahhhh, the sweet scents of spring and summer. And most of them have to with flowers. Yet, many of these scintillating smells have to do with another type of flour, the one responsible for giving us some of our favorite summer treats.

But, when it comes to baking, you’ll want to sift through each of the varieties easily and know which ones will rise to the occasion.

According to experts, while flours are manufactured from a variety of grains including amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, soy, quinoa, rice, rye, and triticale, most of us imply wheat flour when we talk about flour in general.

Wheat flours, say experts, are classed in accordance to the amount of protein they contain. Professionals point out, that wheat flours derived from soft wheats are typically low in protein and use in baking cakes, cookies, pastries, and crackers. Flours derived from hard wheats tend to be high in protein and used in baking quick and yeast breads.

Among the various varieties:

1. All-purpose flour: Derived from a combination of soft and hard wheat or sometimes medium-protein wheats, it is frequently the most commonly used type of flour ideal for a multitude of baking purposes.

2. Self-rising flour: This all-purpose flour contains baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Cake flour: Generally this is a soft what combination low in protein and low in gluten content making it most suitable of fine-textured treats such as (angel food and chiffon) cakes.

4. Bread flour: This type of flour typically contains more protein and gluten than all-purpose flour and thus the best flour for baking (doughy) breads. And, experts add, when used in place of all-purpose flour, you usually need less.

5. Instant flour: This patented process flour is used in making quick-mixing flour for use in thickening gravies and sauces.

6. Whole-wheat flour: Whole-wheat flour is ale now as graham flour and these varieties are generally processes less than plain flour and are able to retain most of their nutrients and fiber. It is generally course in texture and is generally best for in some breads, cookies, pastries, and/or other delicate baked goods.

7. Specialty flours: these include whole wheat (graham), rye, oat, buckwheat, and soy and are typically blended with all-purpose flour in baked goods because on their own, they tend to lack enough gluten for proper texture and elasticity.

8. Oat flour:M.b> This variety can be purchased or made by grinding rolled oats into a fine powder in a food processor.

9. Rye flour: A traditional ingredient in a variety of baked goods including breads, cakes, and pastries especially in Northern and Eastern Europe.

10. Soy flour: Generally cream-colored, this flour is typically strong-flavored and a rich source of protein and iron and contains no gluten. Note that baked goods made from soy flour tend to brown more quickly, making it likely that you’ll have to lower the baking temperature depending on the amount you use.

11. Other Alternatives: Bleached and unbleached flours. While both are considered all-purpose, bleached flour is chemically whitened, unbleached flour is not; and bleaching does strip the flour of some of its essential intrinsic nutrients.

Experts suggest storing all-purpose flour in an airtight container that should be kept in a cool, dry place for 10 to 15 months. Whole grain flours should be kept for up to 5 months. To prolong longevity experts suggest storing in the fridge or freezer in a moisture-proof, vapor-proof container, but bringing to room temperature before usage.

As far as sifting is concerned, professionals note that all-purpose flour probably doesn’t need to be sifted, but it’s not a bad idea to stir it a bit before using it. Cake flour however, “will” need to be sifted before measuring.


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