Good day everyone,
I hope we are all enjoying the weather condition in our various environments?
In Lagos here, the rain seems like its here to stay and not ready to take off.
Today, I would be sharing with you what I learnt in one of my Cake groups earlier in the week and I believe would be useful to you too.
Different types of flour
Depending on how much you know about pastry, the baking aisle of the supermarket is either extremely exciting or completely terrifying. There are a ton of flours out there—not just good for all-purpose, but pastry, bread, and cake as well.
But what’s the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour? Pastry and cake?
Well, in case you couldn’t guess, they’re all slightly different, and serve specific, slightly different functions. Here are the most common types, what they’re all about, and when you should (and shouldn’t) use them. (Note: We’re just talking about white wheat flours.
There are still a lot more kinds of flour like whole wheat, rye, buckwheat, and various nut flours( Discussion for another time.)
All-Purpose (AP) Flour:
The name pretty much says it all! Nine times out of ten, this is what you’re reaching for when baking or cooking. If you have room for just one flour in your kitchen, all-purpose is your guy. Standard AP flour is a white flour, meaning the wheat grains (called wheat-berries) have been stripped of their bran and germ during processing and grinding, leaving just the starchy endosperm.
That means that most AP flours are more shelf stable (yeah, flour goes bad!) because it’s the oils in the germ that cause it to go rancid. It also means, unfortunately, that most of the nutritive properties of the wheat have been removed and along with them much of the natural flavor of the plant.
The upside of all-purpose flour, though, is that it behaves predictably in baking. The protein content of AP flours are standardized during processing to between 9% and 11%, depending on the brand and type of wheat used. The amount of protein corresponds to how much gluten is formed when flour comes into contact with water.
Gluten gives baked goods structure—the more gluten, the “stronger” the flour. AP falls in the mid-range of protein levels, which makes it an appropriate choice for most baked goods like cookies, muffins, and pie crust (hence the name “all-purpose”).
Look for an unbleached variety, which indicates that it has not been chemically treated to whiten and “soften” the flour. In general, you can use AP flour in place of any of these other flours—it won’t produce quite the same texture, but it’ll be close enough.
The main difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is a matter of protein.
Bread flour, which comes in white and whole wheat varieties, has a higher protein content than all-purpose, usually 11-13%. It’s called “bread flour” because most bread requires higher amounts of protein to produce lots of gluten. Gluten is the stringy strands that give bread dough its stretch and elasticity, and baked bread its characteristic chew.
Kneading dough develops a network of gluten strands that trap air and produce the airy holes characteristic of many breads. You can use bread flour in place of AP flour when you actually want a chewier result—in pizza dough, for instance—but you don’t want to use it in place of cake or pastry flour, or in any baked goods that you want to be light and tender.
Cake and Pastry Flour:
You may be sensing a theme here with how these flours are labeled. Cake flour is used in cake-making. On the other end of the spectrum from bread flour, cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose.
Whereas bread is supposed to be chewy, and therefore chock-full-of gluten, cake is supposed to be fluffy and tender. Gluten development is not the object, so cake flour is low in protein, usually around 9%. Pastry flour has an even lower protein content than cake flour, clocking in around 8%, and is mostly used to make things like pie crusts, biscuits, and scones—anything where you want a tender, crumbly, or flaky texture.
In a pinch, feel free to swap cake or pastry flour for AP flour in recipes where tenderness is desirable (like pancakes), but not for things like flatbread.
In Nigeria, the AP flour is easily accessible in the local market. Some recipe also calls for Self raising flour in Cakes.
You could get this at any good supermarket. I get mine at any branch Shoprite or Justrite. If unavailable, add baking powder to your plain flour. You can also add salt, which is optional.
Recipe for Self raising flour.
– One heaped teaspoon baking powder
– 100g plain flour
– Pinch of salt (optional)
Happy Baking 🙂
Do ask below.