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MARGARET PROUSE: Sifting through types of flour

Flour is a key ingredient, along with several other items, when baking at home.
Flour is a key ingredient, along with several other items, when baking at home. - 123RF Stock Photo

Recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins a tasty way to use the all purpose variety

Heading: Intro: Are you inspired, as I am, by baking shows on television?

Did you receive new bakeware for Christmas?

Are you determined to bake your own treats, instead of buying them in 2019?

If so, you may have paused in the baking aisle to wonder why there are so many types of flour – all made from different types of wheat or milled by different processes and all suited for different uses.

All purpose flour is predominant in the market place, and it’s the only one that some people use. Made from a blend of hard wheat, which has a high gluten content, and soft wheat, which is lower in gluten, all purpose flour has a gluten content of 9-11 per cent, making it suitable for baking breads, biscuits, cookies and cakes, as well as for thickening sauces such as gravy. However, when a recipe calls for another type of flour, such as bread flour or cake and pastry flour, you will get best results by using the specified type.

Bread flour is made from hard, red, winter wheat and has a gluten content between 12.5 and 14 per cent. Since gluten is what gives structure to support bread as it rises, the higher gluten content makes bread flour the best choice for making bread.

Because the gluten is contained in the endosperm, the largest part of the whole grain, and whole wheat flour contains more than just the endosperm, there is less gluten in whole wheat flour than there is in the same volume of white flour.

Not all whole wheat flour is whole grain flour. In Canada, whole wheat flour can have up to 5 per cent of the kernel removed, including some of the bran (the coating surrounding the wheat kernel) and most of the wheat germ (the embryo of the seed), to prevent rancidity and prolong shelf life.

It takes careful reading to determine what is contained in whole wheat flour. If it is labelled “whole grain flour,” “100 per cent whole grain flour” or “100 per cent whole grain whole wheat including the germ”, it contains the bran, germ and endosperm. If it’s called “whole wheat flour”, you can assume that at least part of the bran and wheat germ have been removed.

Cake and pastry flour is a fine-textured flour, milled from soft wheat, and has less gluten – about 7-8 per cent – than either all purpose or bread flour, making it suitable for baking light, tender cakes and making pastry. Because of the fine texture, it clumps more readily than all purpose flour and should be sifted before measuring.

Self-rising flour is a mixture of all purpose flour, salt and baking powder. I find that it is called for in some recipes originating in the U.K. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own by combining 250 mL (1 cup) of all purpose flour with 7 mL (1½ tsp) baking powder and 2 mL (½ tsp) salt.

Instant-blending flour is milled by a process that makes it granular, easily blended with hot or cold liquids, for uses like making gravy. It is made from soft wheat and contains 8-10 per cent gluten.

If you happen to have some cranberries and oranges left from the Christmas season, you can use them – and some all purpose flour – to make these muffins.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Adapted from Canadian Living Christmas Idea Book 1983

250 mL (1 cup) chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

50 mL (¼ cup) granulated sugar

500 mL (2 cups) all purpose flour

50 mL (¼ cup) granulated sugar

5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder

2 mL (½ tsp) baking soda

15 mL (1 tbsp) grated orange rind

1 egg

50 mL (¼ cup) canola oil

175 mL (¾ cup) milk

5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine cranberries with 50 mL (¼ cup) sugar. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in chopped cranberries and orange rind.

In a small bowl, beat egg; whisk in oil, milk and vanilla.

Add liquid to dry ingredients all at once, stirring just until moistened. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins, filling ¾ full.

Bake in 200 C (400 F) oven for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 12 medium muffins


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.

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