Week Two of Eight in a series:
Hopefully, last week you all went out and bought the sugars you’ll need for baking on our journey to the well-stocked baking pantry. If you’re just catching up, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing items needed to get your kitchen into Baking Season top-shape, one step at a time. This week is all about flour in the kitchen.
All-Purpose flour can be found in most kitchens, but the title can be deceiving. All-Purpose doesn’t mean all-you-ever-need. Depending on your baking specialties, you will have other types of flour in your stock-pile – Are you known for your delicious bread-baking? Do you specialize in decadent cakes? And how about you pizza dough chefs? Not to mention those with gluten-free needs or others of us who just love to experiment with nut flours because the taste and texture is a delicious experience.
The following list of different types of flour is not the end-all, but it’s extensive enough to accommodate most recipes. Let’s get started with a little primer on common flours and the best ways to use them.
All-Purpose Flour: This flour is the most commonly used flour due to it’s ability to provide great structure to breads but still contribute to tenderness in many cake recipes. I recommend using unbleached flour as some bleached flours have an off-flavor.
Whole-Wheat Flour: Whole wheat is exactly that; the whole wheat kernel including the germ which will produce a more dense-finished recipe. This is not interchangeable with all-purpose flour as I’ve found out the hard way. My Carrot and Quinoa Muffin recipe calls for whole-wheat flour as well as almond-flour. If you substitute all-purpose for either of these, the muffin’s texture is not at all the same, and as many of my tasters and followers have noted, not as yummy.
Cake Flour: This flour is used in many delicate cake recipes like angel food and pound cakes. But if a recipe calls for cake flour, you can substitute 7/8 cup of all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every cup of cake flour called for. Cake flour is almost always bleached, so making your own might be a good option. Plus why not save space in the pantry?
Nut Flours and other Gluten-Free Flours: Two delicious nut flours that I use often in my recipes are coconut flour and almond flour. I love recipes using these flours on their own (Blueberry muffins) since I find gluten-free recipes often require several combined flours as well as xantham gum. I’m no expert on the best gluten-free flours, so I won’t be speak more on flours in this category. But the Gluten-Free Goddess has some good information here.
Be sure to buy the best-quality ingredients you can afford for your pantry. You won’t be sorry. If you can’t buy “best-of-the-best” of every ingredient, pick a few items to make an investment in from time to time and build from there. When all is said and done, made-from-scratch is at the heart of sharing love with your family and loved ones. Good for them, good for you! I’m proud of you.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Whole-Wheat Flour
- Cake Flour
- Almond and/or Coconut Flour
- Gluten-Free Flour
- Bread Flour (if you bake a lot of bread and even pizza crust)
- Others to consider based on your needs include Self-Rising Flour, Buckwheat and Pastry Flour
- Semolina (a staple in making pasta and very occasionally in pizza dough)
Some of the information I acquired for the flour post comes from Cook’s Country October/November 2014 edition.