Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's the 1st week of June, and the focus item is.....White flour

(Image courtesy of

Well, as I am writing this post, there is a torrential rain storm going on outside....and I hope my young little plants survive....but I am not going outside to rescue them either.

Our focus item today is White flour....which has come under some scrutiny in the past few years.  Let's look at the history of this item.  When the industrial revolution was occurring, shipping flour from the mill to outlying areas often posed a problem as it became rancid.  When the entire wheat berry/kernel was milled, the oil from the bran was released into the product, thus beginning the time line of how fresh it was and also how long it lasted before becoming rancid.

As such, the bran was then removed to remedy this situation. In the 19th century, when this became the practice, the relative benefits of the vitamins, micronutrients and amino acids were completely or relatively unknown.  But, the practice allowed the flour to last for more than 6-9 months as well.

There are several types of "white flour" and depending upon the type of baking you do, you may want to include more than one.  Lets look at a few common types:

1.  All purpose flour:  Also known as “plain,” “general purpose” or “family” flour, this is a main ingredient in baked goods such as cakes, breads, rolls, and is used to thicken sauces, gravies and puddings. It may be used to coat meats and vegetables prior to frying or sautéing. It is made from a combination of Hard and Soft Wheat.  If a recipe calls for a certain type of flour and you only have all-purpose on hand:

• Use one tablespoon more per cup when making breads.

• Use one tablespoon less per cup when making cookies and biscuits.

• Recipes calling for self-rising flour: add 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt to each cup of all-purpose.
2.  Bread Flour:  Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains. ( 
3.  Self-rising flour:  sometimes referred to as phosphated flour, is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening already added. It's most often recommended for biscuits and some quick breads, but never for yeast breads. Exact formulas, including the type of baking powder used, vary by manufacturer. Recipes that call for self-rising flour do not call for the addition of salt or leavening agents.

Make your own self-rising flour: Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of all-purpose flour into a container. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine. (http://www.what'

4.  Semolina flour is used in making pasta and Italian puddings. It is made from durum wheat, the hardest type of wheat grown. The flour is highest in gluten. When other grains, such as rice or corn, are similarly ground, they are referred to as "semolina" with the grain's name added, i.e., "corn semolina" or "rice semolina." There are difference grades: (1) Semolina flour is finely ground endosperm of durum wheat.  (2) Semolina meal is a coarsely ground cereal like farina.  (3) Wheatina is ground whole-grain wheat. (4) Durum flour is finely ground semolina and is grown almost exclusively in North Dakota.  (http://www.what'

StorageIn general, do not store your flours near items such as soap etc as the flour can absorb the 'flavor' of these types of items.  Flour should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place at 70 degrees or lower.  Freezing your flour initially will help kill weevils or insect eggs.  Also, depriving the flour of oxygen can accomplish the same goal.  

So stock up!  This is a relatively inexpensive food staple that we all use at one time or another!


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