Sunday, February 14, 2010
A Bouquet of Flours
For you on Valentine’s Day, I have a bouquet of flours. When I began my cooking journey I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of flour. Oh sure, I could read the bags. All Purpose flour I pretty much figured out. You could use it for anything. Cake flour I didn’t buy since my cakes all came in their own boxes with nice pictures on the front. Bread flour I started buying when I got my first bread machine, and whole wheat stayed right there on the shelf at the store. If it was too heavy to carry then it was too heavy to eat. I have rules.
But I have learned that it goes way beyond that too. I have started listening to cooking podcasts and learned a lot more about my flours. Did you know that even among the common types of flour that you can buy in the grocery store, they differ from one part of the country to the other? For instance, flour in the south contains more starch than anywhere else. Also flours in the north east have more protein. I don’t know what my flour in California is compared to the rest of the states, but I figure this may be why I can follow a recipe EXACTLY and still have it come out different than Paula Deen’s does. She has more starch!
I also learned that a lot has to do with the way that flours are measured too. If you scoop your measuring cup into the bag and then level it off, you can end up with about 5 ounces of flour. However, if you gently scoop it out with a spoon and put it into your cup, then level it off, you will end up with more like 3.5 ounces. That’s a big difference when you are making a batch of cookies. My boss has an old recipe for biscuits that has been passed down in her family for several generations. In it, it calls for 3-4 handfuls of flour. We compared hands one day. Hers are very tiny, petite hands, and mine, well, are not. So how much flour is that? I guess the pioneers had to learn that one too. I previously stated that my ex- made better cookies than I did. He is a scooper and I am a spooner. So no matter how much extra flour I put in, it still wasn’t as much as the extra he was putting it. Now it all makes sense. It wasn’t me. It was the flour!
Many people have advised me to practice, practice, practice. Now with this new information, I am armed with I feel like I have more of a fighting chance. Cooking (at least baking) is like a science. All of the ingredients have to work together, in the right proportions.
Wonder what else I can learn?
Happy Valentine’s Day. Or as one of my daughter’s friends texted her today, Happy Single Awareness Day!
Psalm 23:6 "...my cup overflows."
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Bionote: Lori is the author of three business books, numerous church skits, and several articles. She lives in Sacramento with her two children, two dogs, and cat. She loves to hear from her readers, so please email your thoughts and questions.