Week 19: Flour
25 lbs of Flour
After this week, you should have 25 lbs stored. The program goal is 50 lbs. We will address Flour 1 more time (in week 30).
Flour is made up of carbohydrates (or starch) & proteins. Of these two nutrients, protein content usually matters most to the baker. A higher percentage of protein means a harder (stronger) flour best suited to chewy, crusty breads and other yeast-risen products. Less protein means a softer flour, best for tender and chemically leavened baked goods, like pie crusts, cakes, cookies, and biscuits. Although there are many types of flour, all-purpose (or occident) flour is used most frequently. The type of flour you choose affects the texture, stability, and overall outcome of your breads, cakes, pies, and cookies. It’s also great for thickening sauces, gravies and puddings.
What kind of flour is best?
Unless you’re an avid bread or cake baker, an all-purpose flour is probably your best choice. In all-purpose flour, a combination of hard and soft wheat is milled to produce the ideal flour. The resulting medium protein content (between 9% and 12%) offers just the right balance of strength and tenderness for the everyday baker to make chewy breads, delicate tarts, and everything in between. In general, you may find that cakes made with all-purpose flour are a bit tougher and less delicate than those made with a softer pastry or cake flour. Likewise, breads made with all-purpose flour may be a bit softer and flatter than those made with bread flour. But overall, these differences should be slight for the casual baker.
So we suggest storing all-purpose flour to meet this 50 lb requirement and then buy more specific flours to suit your everyday cooking/baking needs. If you enjoy baking and start making breads or cakes regularly, you might want to consider storing some of these specialty flours. Feel free to adjust the 50 lbs accordingly for the types of flours you will be using. After all, we do not want you to store anything you won't use. And as always, make sure you’re rotating through all of your food, ingredients and supplies.
Bread Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour:
Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.
All-purpose flour is pre-sifted and versatile enough to use in everything from hearty breads to delicate tarts. All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high and low-gluten wheats, and has a bit less protein than bread flour (9% to 12% vs. 13% to 14%). You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose flour will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour and would not be nearly as good if made with bread flour.
Do I need Bread Flour?
All purpose flour is fine as long as it is unbleached as bleaching weakens the protein which is needed to give a good texture or crumb to the bread. Bread flour has higher protein and will make a chewier bread.
Bleached vs. Unbleached Flour:
Bleached flour has a whiter color, finer grain, and softer texture. Bleached flour is treated with chemical agents to speed up the aging process. Bleached and unbleached white flours are nearly identical in terms of nutrition. Bleached flour works well in recipes like cookies, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and pie crusts.
Unbleached flour has a denser grain and tougher texture. While bleached flour is treated with chemicals to speed up the aging process, unbleached flour is aged naturally. Other varieties of unbleached flour, such as whole-wheat flour, may contain more fiber, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and antioxidants. Unbleached flour is better suited for puff pastries, eclairs, yeast breads, and popovers. Opting for unbleached, whole-wheat flour may increase your intake of several nutrients and minimize your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Still, both varieties can be used interchangeably in most recipes without significantly altering the final product.
To choose the right package size for your needs, keep in mind there are about 3½ cups of flour per pound, so a five-pound bag contains approximately 17½ cups.
If stored in an airtight container at room temperature, your flour will be good for up to a year. White flour never really spoils, but the longer it sits, the more susceptible it is to kitchen pests. Try putting a few bay leaves in the container to keep them away. Flour can be stored indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer if packed in airtight containers or freezer bags. The flour will not freeze solid, but plan to take it out a few hours before using to bring it up to room temperature.
Unless your recipe calls for it, no sifting is required. Just fluff the flour in the container with a metal spoon and lightly sprinkle it into a dry-ingredient measuring cup. Without tapping or shaking the cup, scrape off the excess with a straight-edge spatula or knife. Measuring this way should yield a cup of flour that weighs about four ounces.
If a recipe calls for a certain type of flour and you only have all-purpose on hand:
Use one tablespoon more per cup when making breads.
Use one tablespoon less per cup when making cookies and biscuits.
Recipes calling for self-rising flour: add 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt to each cup of all-purpose.