Some recipes may call for “all purpose flour” (also known as “A.P.A.P. flour”), while others require plain flour. It can be not easy to understand the terminology around flour for home bakers, but I’m here to help you! This article is your Baking 101 Guide. It covers all the essentials of flour, including measuring flour, replacing flour, using flour, and more.
IS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR THE SAME AS PLAIN FLOUR?
Plain flour and all-purpose flour are the same. North Americans use the term all-purpose flour, while plain flour is used more commonly in the U.K. and Australia.
What is Flour?
The flour is a powdery substance obtained from milling dried wheat grains or starchy grains. The flour made from wheat grain is also called wheat flour. However, it can also be made using rye or corn.
History of Flour
Since ancient times, flour has been a vital part of human civilization. Many people believe that ancient humans only ate vegetables and meat. The historical evidence shows that humans have been producing flour for around 30,000 years. In prehistoric times, people in southern Italy were believed to have been the first to make flour with a stone mortar and pestle. Around 3000 B.C.E.E.E., the Ancient Egyptians started sifting their flour with hand sieves in order to achieve a finer texture. In the Ancient Greek’ and Roman eras, traditional mills gradually replaced the saddle stone method.
Did you know March is National Flour Month? Remember to bake and take a minute to recognize flour as an important ingredient in our daily lives!
The development of flour production
Boston, in North America, was the first place to operate a windmill in 1632. In this period, flour contained a small amount of coarse matter. The milling process improved in the 19th century with the use of steel rollers. This automatic method improved the speed and quality of flour milling by using only the soft endosperm. The result was finely white flour.
After automation, flour became more affordable for the average person. In the middle of the 20th century, as a result of increased awareness about nutritional deficiencies, flour began to be enriched by iron, riboflavin, and amino acids. The end of the 20th century saw the addition of folic acids to flour. We can now enjoy wheat flour with added micronutrients. It contains carbs, protein, fiber, and more.
WHAT IS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
All-purpose flour, which is a wheat grain flour with a medium level of protein, is used for a variety of purposes. The wheat grains are sifted and milled very finely until only a white powdery substance is left.
Different types of white wheat are available. Flours with high protein content (called bread or pasta flour) are best for making crusty, nutty bread and pasta. Cake flours have a lower protein percentage. The industry realized that buying different types of flour was only sometimes possible, so they developed flour for (almost all) baking. This flour is known as “all-purpose” flour, abbreviated as A.P.A.P. flour.
THE REGIONAL DIFFERENCES WHEN IT COMES TO ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR NAMES
The most common baking ingredient in the world is all-purpose flour. Several names know it. In international contexts, the abbreviation for all-purpose flour can be “A.P.A.P. Flour.” All-purpose flour in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand is known as ” plain wheat flour.” In Germany, it is known as ” Type 550″, while in France, it is ” Type 55″. There is an Indian version called ” maida” of all-purpose flour. It is more like cake flour because it has less protein.
Why is flour white?
The majority of flour is white for three main reasons. White flour is made from the endosperm of the grain instead of the entire kernel. White flour turns white when exposed to oxygen (aging). Third, the flour may contain a chemical agent that helps speed up the “aging process.”
The white flour with a soft texture and true white color has usually been chemically bleached. The yellowish-white, on the other hand, does not contain any chemical agents that will speed up the aging process. The naturally bleached white flour (also known as unbleached) is usually yellowish.
How does flour work in baking?
Flour contains various nutrients, including protein. Wheat flour contains two well-known proteins: glutenin and gliadin. They are best friends and will work well together in baking, as they will affect the texture of baked goods. Gluten is formed when you combine the glutenin with gliadin in your flour. Gluten is a substance that can be elastic and stretch your dough, trapping air within.
The importance of protein in the flour
Since the protein content of each type of flour varies, so will the amount of gluten that is formed. Gluten will be weaker in doughs made with low-protein or no-protein flour. The more gluten in the dough, the better its structure. This is why cake requires low protein and bread needs high protein. High-protein flour is ideal for bread, Babka, and Choux pastry. Eclair, while low-protein flour, is perfect for muffins or sponge cakes. Protein content determines the strength of baked goods.
The importance of gluten in the flour
The flour is a very important component of nearly every baked good. It provides structure. The gluten is what gives structure. It happens when glutenin and gliadin (both proteins found in flour) come into contact with water. Gluten is elastic and can hold gas bubbles in the dough. The more gluten in a dough, the better it is at containing gas bubbles. This also means that bread crumbs will be open.
The gluten strands expand when you knead a dough. And the more you knead, the better your dough’s structure will be. High-protein flour will increase the amount of gluten, resulting in a more robust dough. This dough is ideal for baking sweet breads, such as brioche and crusty bread. If you are baking a cake and you do not want it to be too strong but rather soft and moist, then you should use low-protein wheat flour.
Types of Flour
There are many different types of flour. We will discuss the different kinds of wheat flour and their roles in baking. The different types of wheat flour are:
It is made of hard spring wheat. It is made from hard spring wheat. In the U.K.U.K., bread flour is known as hard wheat flour. This flour contains the most protein in comparison to other types of white wheat flour. Bread flour is more gluten-rich than all-purpose wheat flour. It can be used to make bagels, crusty pizzas, bagels, croissants, babkas, brioches, etc.
Cake flour (also known as soft or soft wheat flour) is produced by milling soft wheat. It contains less protein than other white wheat. Cake flour is lower in protein than plain flour. This means that the gluten in the dough is also smaller. This flour is ideal for delicate baked goods like pound cakes or cookies. It also works well in cakes and muffins.
Pastry flour has a similar composition to cake flour but contains a higher amount of protein. Pastry flour is perfect for pastries, as its name implies. You can substitute it for cake flour when baking cookies and biscuits.
PLAIN FLOUR OR ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
All-purpose white flour is made from hard and soft wheat varieties. It’s a mix of low-protein and hard-protein wheat flour. This is the flour that you use most often in your daily life. It is a versatile flour and is used in many recipes. However, to get the best results, it is always better to use the flour recommended by the formula. Cake flour is used for cakes and bread flour.
Self-rising or self-rising wheat flour does not require an additional leavening agent. Self-rising flour contains enough baking powder to raise itself and, in some cases, salt. When I lived in the U.K., I baked a lot of self-raising bread, and the results were always consistent. However, sometimes it’s better to control our baking powder amount to get a higher or lower rise.