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What Is All Purpose Flour Used For?
What Is All Purpose Flour?
Have you ever had a recipe that called for ‘all purpose flour’?
Have you ever wondered what it is? It is just plain white flour, pastry flour, organic flour, self-raising, rice or spelt flour or is it truly a flour all unto itself?
What Is Flour?
Flour is a common ingredient used in many recipes and food preparations. I
t is a product commonly made from wheat, maize (or corn), rye, barley and even rice. It can also be made from legumes and nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and other tree nuts.
Typically it is ground into a fine dust; a coarser, more granular preparation is called 'meal'.
How To Buy Flour
Flour should be purchased in tightly sealed packages, bags or boxes. If you notice a package that is torn or are seeking to purchase flour in an open container, be aware that it will have been exposed to air and potentially insect contamination.
What Is All Purpose Flour?
All purpose flour is simply plain flour.
It is used in recipes for traditional pie crusts, cakes ,cookies, sweet rolls and even some types of bread. It is considered a basic flour and it contains 'average' gluten content. It does not contain any baking soda or other elements which are found in self rising flour.
All-purpose flour, like the name says, is all purpose and it is usually translated as "plain flour" containing approximately 8% to 11% protein (gluten).
Flour Storage Containers
How To Store Flour
Flour has a limited shelf life, typically no more than 6 months so to ensure it lasts as long as possible there are a few tips that should be followed:
- Store in a cool dry place.
- Store in a sealed container.
- Store away from foods with strong odors such as onions.
If flour is exposed to air for an extended period of time it can take on a rancid flavor, not to mention be exposed to possible insect contamination.
Tip: Try not to mix new flour with old in the one container if you are not using it regularly.
Frozen flour can actually be stored for several years and in hot weather, keeping flour in the refrigerator is a good idea to avoid moisture.
If your flour ever smells strange, has a different color to it or you notice any eggs or weevils, dispose of it straight away.
Tip: Bay leaves are natural insect repellents so add one to your container of flour to keep the insects and bugs away.
Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
Some individuals suffer from an intolerance to wheat gluten. This is known as coeliac or celiac disease. Greater awareness, as well as an increased belief in the benefits of a gluten-free diet, has led to an increased demand for bread, pasta, and other products made with flours that do not contain gluten.
- Buckwheat Flour: Is gluten-free. It is full of nutrients, readily available and easy to work with. It has a nutty flavor.
Varieties of Flour
There are so many varieties of flour. Although it comes from wheat mainly, it can be milled from rice, nuts and even some fruits and vegetables. Each type of flour suits a particular baking method and provides a different result so it is important to know which flour you are using.
In addition to all purpose flour, or plain flour, here are some other varieties:
- Bread Flour: White flour made from wheat. It is unbleached has 12% to 14% protein (gluten). This is the best choice for yeast products.
- Cake Flour: This has a high starch content and the lowest protein (gluten) content of any wheat flour (8% to 10%). This flour is suitable for baking quick breads, muffins and cookies. If a recipe asks for cake flour but you are unable to get it you can use all-purpose flour.
- Pastry Flour: A mixture between bread and cake flour. Also called cookie flour it has protein levels of 9% to 10%. Perfect for biscuits, brownies and quick breads because it creates crumbly pastry.
- Rice Flour: This is milled from rice; both white or brown.
- Self-Rising Flour: One of the most common flours available. Contains salt and baking powder and often recommended for some types biscuits but never for yeast breads. Tip: You can make your own self rising flour by using the required amount of all-purpose flour and for each cup used, add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Semolina Flour: Made from durum wheat and contains the highest gluten. It is commonly used to making pasta and Italian puddings.