Week # 19: 50 lbs of Flour
Flour is made up of carbohydrates (or starch) & proteins. Of these two nutrients, protein matters most to the baker. A high 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 or deliciously dredging meats and vegetables prior to frying or sautéing.
What kind of flour is best?
Unless you’re an avid bread or cake baker, an all-purpose flour is probably your best choice. A combination of hard and soft wheat is milled to produce all-purpose 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 and then buy any other flours you like to use on top of the standard 50lbs of all-purpose flour, to make sure you’ll have plenty for your everyday cooking/baking needs. If you enjoy baking and start making breads or cakes regularly, you might want to use 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 waste any food, 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 — 11% or 12% vs. 13% or 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 will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour, but would not be nearly as good 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.
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.
Storing Flour Warning
Room temperature: Store in an airtight container 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.
According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some dry products may not be suitable for longer-term storage because it may go rancid, including: Flour. View this PDF document for the full details.
Refrigerator or Freezer: Can be stored indefinitely 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 down to room temperature.
It should smell and taste “wheaty,” not musty or stale.
Unless your recipe calls for it, no sifting is required. Just fluff the flour in the container with a metal spoon and lightly sprinkle 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
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.