Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Culinary IQ: Wednesday, January 11, 2012; All-Purpose and Bread Flour

Is All-Purpose really All-Purpose?

When I was a kid and started cooking flour was flour, butter was butter and milk was milk, at least as far as I knew. I come from a family of good cooks, my mother, grandmother and aunts were all known in the community for being good cooks and bakers. The flour they used was all-purpose, butter was salted even homemade sometimes, and the milk was whole milk usually straight from the milk cow!

So what is the difference between, all-purpose, bread, pastry, cake flour? The protein content. The protein content of flour has an affect on the structure of the baked good. Higher protein flours give you a stronger or tougher structure while low protein flours produce a weaker or more tender structure.

Here is information regarding all-purpose and bread flour:

All-purpose flour is formulated tobe slightly weaker than bread flour and it can be used for pastries as well. When a recipe calls for flour without specifying a type, you can assume it is calling for all-purpose. All-purpose can be used in any recipe that calls for flour, however, keep in mind the structure of final product may be different than that intended. For example, when using all-purpose instead of cake flour, the cake may have a larger crumb and not be as tender. When using all-purpose when bread flour is called for it is important to work the dough longer in order to build the necessary gluten; a smooth elastic dough is desired when kneading bread dough. The protein content of all-purpose flour is about 11 to 11.5%.

Bread flour is made from hard wheat that has enough good-quality gluten to make it ideal for yeast breads. Bread flours usually range from 11 to 13.5% protein and 0.35 to 0.55% ash. They are available bleached or unbleached. Bread flour should be avoided in most baking other than bread or when specifically called for.

Today is overcast and cool here, the perfect kind of day to stay in, crank up the heat and make some bread!

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