Flour has a lot of types. It is sometimes overwhelming to go through them and distinguish the differences especially if you are a beginner. Even if there are lots of them available, the best thing is to familiarize yourself with the basic flours available in the market. The most common that you can find and also hear about in lots of recipes is the all purpose flour. What is all purpose flour you ask? Well, we will sift this out and discuss everything there is with this type of flour.
1. All Purpose Flour
All purpose flour from the name itself is a flour that can generally be used in almost all recipes, be it in baking or cooking in general. It is an all around, friendly flour. You will also meet this flour in different names like "plain flour", "refined flour" or "general purpose flour". It can be used as thickeners to sauces, for making batters, pancakes, for baking cookies, pastries, pie dough, and bread. It also plays as a very good substitute to many other flours. It is also widely available in almost every grocery store worldwide. It is indeed a universal flour that anybody can use.
What is it made of?
All-purpose flour is made from a good combination of both soft and hard wheat. It is refined and soft milled made from the endosperm only of wheat. All purpose flour belongs to the low protein flours. Commonly, all-purpose flour is also bleached which means it is treated with some agents to help it oxidize and make it appear whiter. But it is also available as unbleached. The bleached version, however, allows the flour to make it absorb more water or sugar content on the flour. (https://snapguide.com/supplies/all-purpose-flour/)
All-purpose flour has a soft, fine texture. The flour is free flowing and should not have any lumps. It should not break when pressed lightly. This flour is also very nutritious packed with several B vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and folic acid) and iron. Though only made from the wheat endosperm only which discards the nutrients in the wheat, most all-purpose flours are "enriched" which means all these nutrients are again incorporated back in the flour.
All-purpose flour and almost all wheat flours do not spoil or go bad if stored well. But bugs or small insects will want to feed on it. So store your all-purpose flour in an airtight container to keep away the bugs. You can also store it in the fridge, and just let it go back to room temperature before using.
4. Protein Content
We all know that one thing that separates wheat flours is their protein contents. All-purpose flour is low protein flour. The combination of both flours creates the balanced protein content of all-purpose flour that is about 9%-12%. This protein content allows it to stand in the middle of soft, low protein, low gluten flours like pastry flour and cake flour, and the high protein ones like bread flour. Because of this, it is able to deliver good results in baking and cooking.
5. The difference of all-purpose flour from other flours
Other flours can be called special flours. They are intended to do particular recipes or dishes. Like pastry flour, cake flour and bread flour. Like their names suggests, these flours are specially made to make pastries, cakes and bread, though their uses are not limited to this alone. All purpose flour can do almost all of them but can deliver different results. All-purpose flour may not be regarded as a "special flour" but it is a must have in the kitchen. Actually, this is, in fact, one of the flours that you can stock a huge amount in your kitchen and you are sure that you can use every time. This flour is really reliable, that if when all else fails or unavailable, you can use it.
Often times, all-purpose flour is confused with the popular flour from India called "Maida". Maida is actually very similar to all-purpose flour only that it is not enriched and it has a finer texture close to that of cake flour. But Maida is almost the same to all-purpose flour.
All-purpose flour comes both bleached and unbleached. Bleached flours will look whiter and unbleached will have a slight brownish color. There are also enriched all-purpose flour, bromate free and organic varieties.
7. Where is all purpose flour best to use?
Sure, this flour can pull off almost all recipes, but there are some baked goods and cooking uses that are best with all-purpose flour.
- Cookies- the cookies that we want are chewy and crumbly at the same time, especially if it is chocolate chip. This consistency will be best achieved with all-purpose flour.
- Brownies and fudge cakes- some pastries need that consistency between chewy and soft, and all-purpose flour is always there to make it happen for you.
- Pretzels and bagels- best when all-purpose flour is used to achieve the chewy consistency.
It is also the best in making spring roll wrappers, batter and breading for fritters and other fried dishes, fluffy pancakes and muffins, banana bread and other types of bread.
All purpose flour is our best friend in the baking world. It is just right that we learn more about this flour. As a beginner, if you can find or afford all kinds of flour, turn to all purpose flour first and work your way up to the different types. It will come in handy if you know how to use all the flours but familiarizing this basic ingredient is one of the things that you can start with if you are a beginner.
All purpose flour actually can do a lot of things and it is up to the chef or the cook to find them. Don't be afraid to experiment and find these recipes that suit your ingredients. Being adventurous is always a good thing.
I hope this post helped you out in your flour curiosities and give you ideas to what to do next in your kitchen. As always, don't forget to share and this and let others know! Have a good one!