January 11, 2013

Question of the Week #1

Today I am going to answer a few questions about flour....there are many different kinds for many different reasons. Pastry flour, cake flour, all purpose, whole wheat flour, bread flour and self-rising. I am going to cover the basic information like....what is pastry flour? What if I don't have whole wheat flour? Is there a substitute for cake flour? Does using bread flour really make a difference? What is in self-rising flour?........BUT please if you have any specific questions in regards of flour ASK!! 
If you ask me something that I did not cover not only will you learn something but it will also give me the chance to learn more too :-)

All purpose:
This is your most commonly used flour. All purpose can be used in so many different ways and in both cooking & baking. All purpose flour is one of the key components when making a roux for a stew or soup.

Self-rising flour:
As the name says it it rises without the need to add additional leavening agent (like yeast or baking powder). Typically self-rising flour can be used in recipes for scones, biscuits or muffins. You can substitute all-purpose flour for self-rising flour but I would suggest pulsing it a few times your food processor or sieving at least 3 times before adding to your mixing bowl, this loosen the flour up and will help prevent the mixture from getting to tough.

Here is the recipe to make your own self-rising flour:

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Pastry flour:
This type of flour is not used as commonly as some of the others. Pastry flour has a higher gluten content which helps the dough be more elastic and holds up better in recipes that require a little more processing like when making croissants, pie crusts or puff pastry. Pastry flour can be made by mixing cake flour and all purpose flour but should never be substituted with either cake flour or all purpose flour alone, it will create tough dough.

Recipe to make your own pastry flour:

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups cake flour

Cake flour:
Cake flour is commonly used in recipes that do not need to rise much. This is because of the low protein content so less gluten is formed while mixing the batter. Low protein/ low gluten means finer and softer crumbs. Cake flour can be substituted in any cake recipe that calls for all purpose flour. Since cake flour is much lighter then all purpose flour you should always sift cake flour before adding it to your mixing bowl, this will help prevent clumping.

If you do not have cake flour on hand, substitute it with this mixture (this equals 1 cup of cake flour):
1 cup all purpose minus 2 TBS

If you want to use cake flour instead of all purpose in a cake recipe:
1 cup cake flour plus 2 TBS for every cup of all purpose flour called for in a recipe.

Whole wheat flour:
When it comes to using whole wheat flour it is very important to avoid over-mixing, over-mixing will form more gluten which can make the dough tougher and chewier. I would also suggest sifting your flour, this will help prevent clumping and adds air to the flour. Depending on what you are preparing you can substitute half of your white flour with whole wheat flour. ***I personally have not had much luck with using only whole wheat flour in recipes, way to tough and not very tasty***

Bread flour:
Bread flour has the most protein content when compared to other flours, this is best when using yeast in a recipe. The higher the protein the more glutens is created during the kneading process. The more gluten the lighter and chewier the bread will be. Bread flour is not really a type of flour that can easily substituted and which I do not recommend in doing either. Bread flour is also used quite often when making bread in a bread maker. *I use bread flour to make cinnamon rolls too* So if bread flour is called for then use bread flour don't replace it with a different flour.....that is just my opinion ;-)


  1. Very informative!!! Thank you :-) I often wondered what the difference was and am very happy to have this information to look up whenever I need to!!

    I hope you are going to school to become an instructor in cooking as you are so informative and excellent in that field :-)

    1. Thanks Karen!! I am no longer in Culinary School but I am working HARD on getting my BA to become an Educator. Hopefully some day I will either be able to teach at a Culinary School or a home-ecs class in high school ;-)