Choosing A Flour
There are many different types of flour available in your local grocery store or supermarket. The following flours are readily available at most grocery stores:
- All-Purpose White Flour
- Enriched Flour
- Wholewheat Flour
- Bread Flour
- Self-Rising Flour
- Cake and Pastry Flour
- Gluten-Free Flour
For most North Americans and Europeans, the word “flour” is synonymous with white wheat flour. But in India, chickpea flour is a cooking staple, in Latin America it’s more common to use maize flour, and in Southeast Asia rice flour is used in many foods.
All flour made from wheat contains gluten, which is the binding agent that allows bread to rise and gives its elastic texture. Most of our Highwood Crossing flour contains gluten but we do make a gluten-free All-Purpose Flour that is available in 10kg bags.
Flour can be made from all kinds of grains, and even fruit and vegetables! Ever heard of banana flour or sweet potato flour? Flour is used to bake bread, cookies and cakes and also to thicken sauce and gravy, and to coat meat before frying.
All-Purpose White Flour
All-purpose white flour is made from processing wheat, leaving out the nutritious germ and bran. It is sold both bleached and unbleached and can be used interchangeably. It is bleached mostly for aesthetic reasons, as flour has a natural yellowish color. The bleaching process also preserves the flour for a longer period of time. Commercial bakers often use bleached flour.
The standard for flour (also known as “white flour”, “enriched flour” or “enriched white flour”) in the FDR requires the mandatory addition of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron. (The addition of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium and calcium is optional.) All white flour sold in Canada for food use, whether for use in further manufacturing or for sale directly to the consumer, must be enriched. Consequently, all foods sold in Canada that contain white flour must be made with enriched white flour. The sale of un-enriched white flour or its use is not permitted in Canada. The only exception to this requirement is white flour sold for the production of gluten or starch.
Whole-wheat flour is produced from the whole wheat grain, making it more nutritious and fiber-rich than white flour. It also contains more oils than white flour. Consequently, it can go rancid more quickly than white flour. It is best to store whole-wheat flour in the fridge or freezer, in a sealed air-tight container. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before using it.
Highwood Crossing also has a Whole Wheat Pastry flour It produces lighter results than regular whole wheat flour, but still is not as light as pastries made with white flour.
Bread flour is unbleached flour with a high protein levels and high gluten strength. Basically when you use it to make bread it gives the bread a better texture than just plain white flour as it reacts well with yeast.
Self-rising flour (biscuit mix)
This variety of white flour was developed as a time-saving product for cooks. It’s flour that already has baking powder and salt added to it, to help baked goods rise. The baking powder will lose its effect the longer the flour is stored. If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make it by combining one cup of all-purpose flour with 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
Cake and Pastry Flour
Cake flour is white flour made from soft varieties of wheat and contains very little gluten. This means that it’s well-suited for cakes, producing a light, airy crumb. Cake flour is usually found in the baking department of the grocery store.
There is also pastry flour, which is used for pie crusts, cookies and other baked goods. It’s not as fine as cake flour. Highwood Crossing has a Whole Wheat Pastry flour. It produces lighter results than regular whole wheat flour, but still is not as light as pastries made with white flour.
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