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Flour power

 

Homemade wheat bread

Having just taught a hands on class on Small Breads, there were lots of questions about flours and leavenings. Here’s what I shared with my students:

WHAT KIND OF FLOUR TO USE?

Different kinds of flour contain different amounts of protein/gluten, which gives the bread texture and body.

All purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat. Store in pantry.

Southern all purpose flour, will contain a type of wheat that is “softer” than wheat grown in the North and has less protein – White Lily is a popular brand. Store in pantry.

For recipes calling for all purpose, bread and whole wheat flour , I use King Arthur flour.

Bread flour has more protein/gluten. Store in pantry. If you use bread flour in these recipes, it will have a chewier, coarser texture and thicker crust.

Whole wheat flour is just that – all the good parts of the wheat are left in, not milled out, and this gives it the typical beige color. Best stored in the freezer.

 

BLEACHED OR UNBLEACHED?

 

Bleaching is actually an aging process that softens and whitens the flour. It can be done naturally, or chemically.

 

Flour that is bleached naturally as it ages is labeled “unbleached”. This takes time to happen, and time is money.

 

Flour that is labeled “bleached” means it’s labeled chemically and it’s a much quicker process. Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. It’s also a bit whiter in color.


YEAST:

This is a living organism. You can purchase dry, active yeast in packages or jars. It comes in active and Rapid Rise (sometimes labeled “instant”).

Active yeast is always added to a warm liquid.

Rapid Rise yeast is a more aggressive strain which can be added to the dry ingredients. It’s also processed smaller so dissolves quicker. It can tolerate a hotter liquid.

Store dry yeast in pantry or freezer, for longer use. Check expiration date. If it’s close, put a pinch in warm water w a bit of sugar. It should foam pretty quickly if it’s still active.

RISING/BAKING TIME: All kitchens are different in temperature and ovens can vary in temperature and the time it takes to bake. Use the times given below as a guide for both raising and baking. They both may take a bit less, or a bit more, time for you

TESTING FOR “DOUBLED IN SIZE”:

Press tips of two fingers lightly and quickly 1/2” into dough. If the dents stay, the dough has doubled, it’s full of air pockets and the gluten is strong and elastic, and has allowed flavors to develop.

TIP FROM RITA’S KITCHEN:

No, this is not a scary flour face, but a great tip: when you have to add other ingredients like baking soda, powder, salt, etc. that are “white”, a good idea is to make indentations in the flour for the number of added ingredients. That way, if you get called away, you’ll be able to tell which items you’ve added.

Soda Bread - Dry Ingredients

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