“All Purpose” Flour
Did you know it is easy to make all your specialty flour mixes from just 1 bag of all-purpose flour? I use unbleached whole grain winter white wheat for my all-purpose flour and add the necessary ingredients to get the other flours I need for baking. This way, I only have ONE CANISTER of flour to store and I ALWAYS have the flour I need for any recipe I make at hand. You can use any type of regular flour, but I prefer unbleached at the very least.
Self Rising Flour
Self-rising flour is a type of all-purpose flour that has salt and a leavening agent added. It is commonly used in biscuits and quick breads or even cookies, but is not recommended for yeast breads.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
If the recipe does NOT call for salt, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Stir or sift together the flour and baking powder. Add salt if needed for recipe.
If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup self-rising flour, use the following formula: For every 3 cups all-purpose flour, mix in 1 tablespoon baking powder.
Bread flour is milled primarily for commercial baking use, but can be found at most grocery stores. While similar to all-purpose flour, it has a higher gluten content, which is optimal in making yeast breads.
Add wheat gluten on a per-recipe basis. The standard gluten/flour ratio is 1 tbsp. (15 ml) for every 2 to 3 cups (473 ml to 711 ml) of flour. Mix in the vital wheat gluten to the flour before you add the other dry ingredients.
Just add your flour to a bowl, add the gluten and mix it together with a fork or pour it into a sifter and sift it into a fresh bowl. Once you have mixed the gluten into the flour you can use it as you would any other flour.
Cake flour is a fine-textured, almost silky flour milled from soft wheat and has a low protein content. It is used to make all types of baked goods like cakes, cookies, crackers, quick breads and some types of pastry. Cake flour has a higher percentage of starch and less protein than bread flour, which keeps cakes and pastries tender and delicate.
For every 1 cup of flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour. Now add 2 tablespoons of Cornstarch for every 1 cup of flour (replacing the tablespoons of flour taken out). You can use a sifter and process your flour 5-6 times through the sifter to aerate the flour.
Or measure out the all-purpose flour and cornstarch you’ll need for your recipe into a food processor. Process the flour and cornstarch together for approximately 5 minutes. The cornstarch and flour need to be well incorporated and the flour aerated.
Pastry flour has properties that fall between all-purpose flour and cake flour. It is usually made from soft wheat for pastry making, but can be used for cookies, cakes, crackers and similarly baked products. It has a slightly higher protein content than cake flour and less starch.
Pastry flour is in between cake flour and all-purpose flour in terms of protein content. Cake flour contains 5% to 8% protein, pastry flour between 8% to 9% protein, and all-purpose flour between 9% to 12% protein.
You can make pastry flour by mixing cake flour and all-purpose flour in a ratio of 2:1 (cake flour to all-purpose flour). If you need 3 cups of pastry flour, use 2 cups of your all-purpose flour and 1 cup of the cake flour described above.
Or just measure out 3 cups all-purpose flour into the food processor, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Make sure you process well to incorporate and aerate your flour.
Instant Flour (Wondra from Gold Medal) is granular and formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids. It will not work as a substitute for all-purpose flour, although there are recipes on the container for popovers and other baked goods. It is used primarily in sauces and gravies.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
For each cup of all-purpose flour, combine flour and cornstarch. Sift 3 times (can be done through a sieve or use a food processor) then remove 3 tablespoons. This will aerate the flour and the weight will be right for the recipe. To use as you would Wondra, use a canister with a shaker top and fill with the flour mix.
How to Store Flour
- Flour must be kept cool and dry. All flours, even white flour, have a limited shelf life. Millers recommend that ground flours be stored for no more than 6 months. The main change that occurs is the oxidation of oils when flour is exposed to air. The result of this is rancid off flavors. During hot weather, store flour in the refrigerator.
- Flour should be stored, covered, in a cool and dry area. This prevents the flour from absorbing moisture and odors and from attracting insects and rodents. Freezing flour for 48 hours before it is stored will kill any weevil or insect eggs already in the flour. It is better not to mix new flour with old if you are not using the flour regularly.
- Do not store flour near soap powder, onions or other foods and products with strong odors.
- If freezer space is available, flour can be repackaged in airtight, moisture-proof containers, labeled and placed in the freezer at 0 degrees F. If flour is stored like this, it will keep well for several years.
- Keep whole wheat flour in the refrigerator the year around. Natural oils cause this flour to turn rancid quickly at room temperature.
- Throw away flour if it smells bad, changes color, or is invested with weevils.
- Flour is always readily available so it should only be brought in quantities that will last a maximum of two to three months UNLESS you store the whole wheat berries (unground wheat).
- Put a bay leaf in the flour canister to help protect against insects. Bay leaves are natural insect repellents.