Differences in Flour Explained – Sift Out Your Flour Issues

I’ve been exchanging emails with another gourmet who has taught me a few things about meringue. I’m so glad I picked up her tips for avoiding weeping meringue! But fortunately, we can all benefit from one another’s knowledge, and soon she was asking me about flour and which sorts of flour are ideal for particular types of baking and culinary needs.

What makes faina unique, and how does it manage to meet all of our baking and cooking needs? I wanted to find the answer to this straightforward question, but what I discovered was almost too much for me to take because there seem to be multiple distinct schools of thought regarding the best flour to use in various baking and cooking scenarios.

And as a result, an idea for a new piece was developed; as a result, today’s research led to the following. I combed through numerous blogs and websites to find the data presented here. For anyone who are ever interested, I include a list of references at the end of the post, including one for the image shown above.

Some of you might believe that all flours are created equal, but that is just untrue. Because different flours include different amounts of hard and soft wheat flour, proteins, and nutrients, not all faina react the same when used in baking. When used in baking and cooking, the flour your mother and grandmother used can behave considerably differently from the flours currently on the market. All-purpose flour purchased in the Northeast may be and will be considerably different from flour purchased in the South or out West by California (who knew!?). Additionally, what we may be able to buy at the grocery store is not what your commercial baker obtains. How the heck does one use the same cookbook (like The Joy of Cooking) in all sections of our fortunate country is something I had no idea about. I’m not even going to bring up the topic. But I digress.

All-purpose flour is ideal for practically every baking and cooking necessity and will stand up (and rise to the occasion) as needed for many occasional bakers. I will try to share what I have learnt about all varieties of flours for those who are fastidious about their baking perfections and confections. Different flours are preferred for their unique gluten contents and yeast raising powers. For those of you bakers out there, I’ve also included a list of possible alternatives at the end of this article. Please keep in mind that not all substitutions will work for every recipe because the chemistry compounds have some restrictions.

I separated the information into two sections: one that describes the many types of flour, and the other that discusses which kind of flour is best to use in certain baking and culinary scenarios.

I prefer to use unbleached ungifted all-purpose flour, such as Hackers or King Arthur’s, in practically every baking and cooking recipe, with the exception of those that ask for cake flour, for the Divaliscious record (I live in the NE). Although I personally don’t like Sondra, I am aware that it helps many people eliminate lumps in their gravies and sauces. I use the same flour for both (but that can be avoided by not adding the liquid too fast and not walking away from your beginning gravy stages and using a whisk to stir).

A mixture of high and low gluten wheat’s are used to make all-purpose flour, which has a little less protein than bread flour. While all-purpose flour sold in the South is typically a blend of soft wheat flours, all-purpose flour marketed in the North typically contains both a soft and a hard wheat flour blend. Almost all recipes can be used using all-purpose flour. For those who are extremely particular, however, the recommended types of flour for baking and cooking are listed below.

Commercial bakers frequently utilize bread flour, which has a higher hard wheat content than, say, all-purpose flour. With a modest amount of malted barley flour, vitamin C, or potassium bromate added to bread flour, the gluten content is also increased (more protein), and the bromate helps the gluten become more elastic, making the dough easier to work with.

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