Anyone can be a baker, whether they are professional or not. Boredom and the desire to surprise their loved ones with something special on their birthdays or any other occasion are the two popular reasons why people bake. Some people are also passionate bakers who rely on their hobby as their primary source of income. They open bakeries or cafés to continue what they love while earning. Although not everyone who bakes knows the importance of their ingredients, especially the flour, and whether you are a pro or not, you need to understand its differences to improve your baking as well as the strengths of cakes.
Flour is one of the keys to making your cake stand out with great texture, strength, and unforgettable taste that everyone will love. It is a natural product made from wheat or any ground seeds that goes through several processes before becoming flour that contains protein. The germ, endosperm, and bran form the three elements of whole grain. After that, they go through milling, rolling, and sifting processes to become flour. When you mix all the ingredients for your cake recipes, including the flour and water, it becomes a dough that will form elastic gluten, which will help it rise and strengthen. It is how many bakers were able to create multi-layered cake designs that are unexpectable and amazing. Without it, bakers won’t be able to make their desired layered cake for their clients or loved ones using only a stick as support. By reading this article, you will know the importance of flour, its varieties, and how to choose the best flour for your baking.
What are Whole Wheat Flour, Bleached and Unbleached Flour?
Other than the types of flour, there are also classifications of flour, and these are the following:
Whole Wheat Flour
All the three parts of the ground seed are combined during milling to form this kind of flour. Either they are milled as a whole or separately and recombined again for the final product. Unlike other flour that can last up to 1-2 years, whole wheat flour has a short shelf life due to the oxidation of its fatty acids during milling, which explains why it won’t persist for more than a year.
Unbleached Flour or White Flour
This flour only consists of the endosperm part of the ground seed. The white flour forms an off-white color when it is freshly from milling and contains a higher level of gluten. To improve its baking properties, it goes through an aging process to whiten its color because of oxidation of the pigments that will take several months. It works for yeast bread and cookies but not with cakes because it causes changes in texture and makes them heavier.
Unlike unbleached flour, bleached flour does not undergo any aging process. Chemicals like potassium bromate, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, or chlorine gas are added to the mixture during milling to treat it. The final product of bleached flour is much whiter than the unbleached one, with a fine grain and a soft texture. It works well in pancakes, pastries, and cakes.
Types of Flour to Use for Your Cakes
Cakes are like flour that come in various forms and have multiple applications. Each flour contains a different amount of protein, depending on its purpose and uses.
All Purpose Flour
When baking a cake, all-purpose flour is not the best choice. Even so, it still includes the protein we need to bake a cake. It has a moderate percentage of 9-11, which makes it the most versatile of all flour. A cake made with all-purpose flour will be crumbly and dry, but it will make the cookies, muffins, and bread chewy and rustic texture.
Of all flour, cake flour has the lowest percentage when it comes to protein, with 5-8 percent. Due to its less protein, it will also form less gluten which is perfect for your cake recipes, such as layer cake, sponge cake, pound cakes, and even muffins. Additionally, compared to other flour, cake flour absorbs more sugar, butter, and other liquid components, making its texture moist rather than too soft.
Pastry flour has almost the same percentage of protein as cake flour. It has 7-9 percent, which is between cake flour and all-purpose flour, and is also a good choice for your cake recipes, tarts, and cookies. If you need pastry flour for your recipe and it is not available in your nearest store, it is no problem if you have all-purpose flour and cake flour in your kitchen. All you have to do is mix the two ingredients, and now you have pastry flour to make your recipe chewy and tender.
This type of flour has lots of variety also. It can be from almonds, potatoes, rice, corn, and more. Due to the absence of gluten in this type of flour, sometimes Xanthan Gum is added to increase the chewiness related to gluten. Cakes, cookies, bread, and other baked goods work well with this flour. If you are looking for any gluten-free flour, King Arthur flour offers one of the best flour.
What is the Best Way to Store Flour?
Maintaining the freshness of flour is very crucial. Some cake recipes only require a couple of cups of flour, so you’ll need to keep the extra flour for your next baking.
There are two ways to store your flour, long-term and short-term uses. First, you must determine the flour you will use most frequently and least frequently. For the long-term, put the extra flour in a plastic container, glass jars, or other airtight containers. You can store it in the fridge for about two years to maintain its freshness. For the short-term flour, you will also need to put it in an airtight container or even a Ziploc, and you can store it in a dark area in your pantry or kitchen. Its freshness will also last for a year. Just ensure there is no air inside the container or bag, whether for long or short-term usage or if it will oxidize and will not last longer than it should.
Additionally, flour’s primary function is to support the cake’s structure. It helps bakers achieve multiple layered cakes or even impossible cake designs for weddings, birthdays, or any other event. Now that you know the importance of flour, you can identify and utilize what best suits your cake recipe. For the bakers, improvement is significant as this will help their global strategy and keep consumers coming back.
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