Baking is a skill that I have yet to master. The science behind making sure cakes rise & cookies crisp up is very specific.
So let’s get into some of the chemistry of the kitchen…
Flour is a powdery substance made from grinding down certain food products. Flour is used in most baking and many cooking recipes. The kind of flour you use can alter the results of your recipe when baking. The differences if flours can be slight or dramatic, depending on what you’re making. Here are the basics:
- All Purpose (AP) Flour, the most vesitile flour. Bran & germ are removed. Hard & soft wheat mix. Medium gluten content.
- Self Rising Flour, a mixture of AP Flour, Baking Powder & Fine Salt that, as the name suggests, rises on its own as it bakes. It’s bought as a convenience item, but can be easily homemade.
- Whole Wheat Flour, uses the whole hard red wheat kernal. More fibrous & nutritious than AP Flour, leading to more dense foods. Medium gluten content.
- White Whole Wheat Flour, uses the whole hard white wheat kernal. Less flavored & paler in color than Whole Wheat Flour, but nutritionally comparable.
- Bread Flour, for bread & crust dough recipes. High gluten content.
- Cake Flour, for cakey pastries. Low gluten content.
- Pastry Flour, for flaky pastries. Slightly more gluten content than Cake Flour.
- Semolina, for pastas & crusty breads. Made from durum wheat. Visibly coarse & golden in color.
- Gluten Free Flour, the word flour isn’t synonymous with gluten. In fact, the only qualification of flour is that it’s something that was ground up into a dry sandy or powdery substance. Wheat has gluten in it naturally, but many flours don’t rely on wheat:
- Teff Flour, made from the smallest grain on earth, very nutritious
- Oat Flour, may be contaminated with slight amounts of gluten.
- Rice Flour, high in fiber & protein, used to make noodles
- Nut Flour, more nutritious, but contains common allergens
- Ancient Cereal Grain Flour, very nutritious & very dense
- Psuedocereal Flour, rich in fiber & antioxidants, creates very crumbly baked goods
- Cornmeal/Corn Flour, high in fiber, very grainy, used as a thickener & to make tortillas
- Chickpea Flour, high in protein, used to make hummus & falafel
- Coconut Flour, made from dried, ground coconut meat, high in saturated fats, very absorbent,
- Starchy Root Vegetable Flour, used as thickener, creates very crunchy baked goods
Baking is a great spring activity. & Branching out with recipes and ingredients is a great way to spice things up!
Next time I’ll sweet talk you on sugar.