A bouquet of flour
During the spring of 2020 a lot of folks were hunkering down during the early days of the pandemic, and trying their hand at baking bread. From my own experience I came to learn a lot more about flour than I knew before. Chef Jerry Pellegrino, is a well-known baker, and has a lot more knowledge about flour.
Here is a break-down of various flours we use, and some recipes.
This flour is the most widely used of all flours. It comes from the finely ground part of the wheat kernel called the endosperm, which gets separated from the bran and germ during the milling process. It is made from a combination of hard and soft wheat, hence the term all-purpose. This type of flour can be used universally for a wide range of baked products – yeast breads, cakes, cookies and pastries. All-purpose flour has iron, and four B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid) added in amounts equal to or exceeding what is present in whole wheat flour. Virtually all white flour sold in the United States is enriched (over 95%). There is no change in taste, texture, color, baking quality or caloric value of enriched flour.
Bread Flour is milled primarily for commercial baking use, but can be found at most grocery stores. While similar to all-purpose flour, it has a higher gluten content, which is optimal in making yeast breads.
This is a type of all-purpose flour that has salt and a leavening agent added. One cup contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Self-rising can be substituted for all-purpose flour in a recipe by reducing salt and baking powder according to these proportions. It is commonly used in biscuits and quick breads or even cookies, but is not recommended for yeast breads.
This is a fine-textured, almost silky flour milled from soft wheat and has a low protein content. It is used to make all types of baked goods like cakes, cookies, crackers, quick breads and some types of pastry. Cake flour has a higher percentage of starch and less protein than bread flour, which keeps cakes and pastries tender and delicate. (One cup of cake flour can be made by measuring 1 cup all-purpose flour, removing 2 tablespoons of flour and replacing that with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.)
This type of flour has properties that fall between all purpose flour and cake flour. It is usually made from soft wheat for pastry making, but can be used for cookies, cakes, crackers and similarly baked products. It has a slightly higher protein content than cake flour and less starch.
This is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat. Durum wheat is the hardest variety of the six classes of wheat and has the highest protein content of all wheat. Because of this, it’s ideal for making high quality pasta and is used by both American
and Italian manufacturers. It’s also used to make couscous in America and Latin America, as well as in the U.S. Durum wheat is rarely used to make bread.
Durum Flour is a by-product in the production of semolina. It is usually enriched with four B vitamins and iron and used to make noodles.
WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
This flour is milled from the entire kernel of wheat. The presence of bran reduces gluten development, therefore, items baked with whole wheat flour tend to be heavier and denser than those made from enriched flour. Bakers often add additional gluten to counteract this. (one tablespoon/cup of whole wheat flour used)
Raisin & Almond Irish Soda Bread
4 ½ cups + ¾ cup all-purpose flour, divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into squares
1 ¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 raisins, plumped in 1 cup Irish whisky for 1 hour and drained
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or a piece of parchment paper, or coat with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the 4 ½ cups flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
Add the butter and with a pastry blender or your fingers, squeeze and mix the butter in with the flour mixture until the butter is about the size of peas.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg & orange zest. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough starts to come together. Add the raisins & almonds and stir just until incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky.
Spread some of the remaining flour onto a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle a bit more flour over the bread and begin kneading, adding more flour as you go, until the bread is no longer sticky and you're able to knead it easily.
Form dough into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut an "X" into the top.
Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until golden brown and the bread sounds a little hollow when you knock on it. You can also try using a cake tester just to be sure - when it comes out clean, it's done.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then slice, butter, and serve. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap; keeps at room temperature for up to 3 days.
2 teaspoons dry yeast 1 cup warm water 2 tablespoons sugar 3 1/2 to 4 cups high gluten flour 1 tablespoon coarse salt 1/4 cup olive oil Cornmeal, for dusting
Fleur de Sel or other coarse salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water, olive oil and sugar. Allow the yeast to become active, approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until foam starts to develop. Combine the flour and salt. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and allow the dough to knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add more flour as necessary to form the dough and prevent it from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle a copious amount of corn meal on a bread peel. Punch the bread dough down and turn in onto a floured work surface. Stretch or roll the dough out into a rectangular shape approximately ½ inch thick. Transfer to the peel and sift a light coating of flour over the top to help keep the dough moist. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Preheat an oven to 400°F fitted with a large pizza stone on the center rack. Dimple the bread with your fingertips and brush the surface with olive oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of Fleur de Sel on the bread and transfer from the peel to the pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Use the peel to remove the baked bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Basic Pasta Recipe
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups AP flour (you can use 1 cup semolina flour to 2 cups AP flour)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the eggs and olive oil and mix until the dough has been formed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for approximately 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough and cut it according to the pasta maker’s directions.
For herb-scented pasta: purée 3 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herbs with the olive oil.
For Porcini Mushroom flavored pasta: remove three tablespoons of floor and add 3 tablespoons of porcini powder.