What’s the Difference? Cake Flour, Pastry Flour, All-Purpose Flour, and Bread Flour

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If you make bread every weekend or have an obsession with cakes, it makes sense to keep specific flours for those recipes on-hand. But what about the rest of us? Is there such a big difference between these flours or can all-purpose flour really be used for all purposes?!First, what’s actually the same about all these flours is that they are made from wheat. What makes them different is how they’re milled, what kind of wheat they’re made from, and even what time of year the wheat was harvested. But what it really all boils down to is protein content.

Protein content is directly related to how much gluten can be formed using that particular flour. Gluten helps create structure and determine texture in your final baked good. Flours with low protein contents will generate less gluten and flours with high protein content will create more.

To get the light and airy structure of cakes, you want a flour with very little protein. But to form the dense chewy structure of bread, you want a flour with a lot of protein so that you can create as much gluten as possible.

Here is the approximate protein content of all the common types of flour:

Bread Flour: 14 – 16%
All-Purpose (AP) Flour: 10 – 12%
Pastry Flour: 9%
Cake Flour: 7-8%

The exact protein content varies by brand, by region, and also by country. However, the name given to the flour is usually an indication of how it’s intended to be used. If you’re having trouble with a recipe written by someone in another country, try to figure out the protein content of the flour they’re using and then find your local equivalent.

Substituting flours with different protein contents can get a little tricky. For most intents and purposes, you’re safe using pastry and cake flour interchangeably. You can also generally use AP flour for either pastry or bread flour.

If all you have is AP flour, you can approximate cake and pastry flour by adding 2 tablespoons of corn starch to a scant cup of AP flour. Likewise, you can bump up a flour’s protein content (and it’s gluten potential) by adding a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten.

What flours do you keep stocked in your pantry?

REFLECTION NO.3

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Last week I was on the station 4, which was pie station. I’ve had so much fun, even though I made several mistakes, but I learned a lot from it.

There was two things surprised me in the past week. First thing is what I found baking is so similar to my old job–journalist, both of need care about detail and time.

As a journalist, if you got news later than others, when the news not new, it worthless, so does baker, if you didn’t serve your hungry customers, they will become to angry customers, on another hand, we also need to care about details, for newspaper, small error can cause huge different, baker too, baker make healthy and delicious food not fast food, these all about detail.

Second thing is I can’t believe I made those pies just by my own, whatever beautiful or ugly, when I took a blueberry pie to home, share with my family, they were enjoyed and proud of me, that makes me feel happiness and fulfillment.

For me, the big challenging in baking is English, I’m pretty sure; it will be much easier to understand in Chinese, all kinds of name of ingredients, methods and products. It was confused. I think only one way to solve this problem, work harder in English.

But another biggest challenging is time management, Actually, I thought I had a perfect planning for the past week to done every product, unfortunately, end of the day I didn’t have time to finish my poor open face cherry pie, because, we spend some time for theory and counseling, that I didn’t considered.

For this problem, there are some ideas for solve it: Prioritize my baking stuff on those that are important, it means before the start of the day, make a list of products that need my immediate attention as unimportant products can consume much of my precious time. Some works need to be done on that day while others could be carry forward to next day. Avoid stress, when I accept more work than my ability, the result is that my body starts felling tired which can affect my productivity. I got bad experience from last week, I knew waxy maize is different with cornstarch, but that time I can’t found waxy maize while I hurried to finish my blueberry pie, I just used cornstarch instead of waxy maize, in fact, and I have to leave some time for relaxation. Avoid multitasking, I always believe that multitasking is an efficient way of getting things done, from baking I realized that not true, in fact, I’ll do better when I focus and concentrate on one thing. While I kneading dough I thought maybe I can creaming butter and sugar in mixer, but after 10 minutes I got trouble not cream, I won’t do it again. Start early, if I want to have a nice day and done everything fluently, I should start my day early as it gives me time to think and plan the day, to know the recipe well.

Anyway, keeping mind clearly whatever how many pieces work waiting you to finish; time management; enjoy my work these are what I learned from working on my own in last week. I believe I’ll do better from now on.Image