Flour Basics and Recipes
Gluten Free or Standard Flour
Let’s talk flour. Be it gluten-free or gluten-full, it is hard to resist something made with flour. Those cookies fresh from the oven on a cold winter’s day, or fresh noodles cooking in a glorious pot of broth, are all made of some type of flour. Who can resist a warm roll with a meal or a fresh pizza on a busy night? No matter your eating style, there is a need for flour.
Questions About Flour
There are many types of flour and many ways to cook with flour but most things made with flour have two simple ingredients: Flour and water.
If you have flour and water, you can make pasta; add in some yeast, now you can make bread. Instead of yeast, add baking powder, eggs, milk…pancakes, biscuits, cookies!! The list is endless.
The most common flour type is that made from wheat. Wheat flour can be unbleached, whole wheat or bleached. Most all purpose flour is bleached.
Why Bleach Flour?
Long story short…bleaching flour makes it easier to color and produces a light, airy product.
What is Bleached Flour Best Used For?
Bleached, all purpose flour is used in commercial breads, muffins and cookies unless the company states otherwise. At home, if you want your pancakes, rolls or dessert cakes to be extra light, use bleached all purpose flour. Biscuits seem to rise higher and sandwich bread stays moist and delicious when made with bleached flour.
Cake flour is more bleached than all purpose flour and will produce the lightest of cakes and other desserts, but also contains the least amount of nutrition.
What About Whole Wheat Flour?
Whole wheat flour is far less processed then all purpose flour, which is the middle-of-the-road in the processed flour list, with cake flour being the most processed.
Whole wheat flour is known for its high fiber and nutty taste. It is also known for its denser texture. Whole wheat flour has been minimally processed and retains more of the original product, making it higher in fiber and protein then bleached flour.
Are All Flours Made From Wheat?
Absolutely not! There are many flours that are gluten-free. Gluten-free means it does not contain the gluten that wheat does. That is what gives wheat flour its ability to rise and become a fluffy bite of awesome food. That does not mean you have to forgo such awesome taste and texture when not using wheat flour.
Why Would You Not Use Wheat?
To many people, it is a choice, just like one would choose to eat a sugary treat or a piece of meat. Others avoid gluten due to health concerns. Celiac Disease causes abdominal pain and swelling, among other symptoms, if gluten is ingested. Others are allergic to wheat.
I Do Not Want Wheat, What Can I Use Instead?
Vegetables such as beans (legumes), peppers and potatoes can be made into flour. Not all beans make good flour, such as coffee beans. (giggle). Although I might like the wake-up from eating a biscuit made from coffee flour, the texture was not very good. Yes, I tried to make biscuits out of ground coffee. I do not recommend it…seriously…don’t do it, it is harsh.
Sweet potato makes a really nice, sweet flour that is excellent for biscuits and muffins. Pumpkin can be used as an equal exchange for sweet potato flour.
Beans, legumes, can also be used for flour. The beans will give your finished product a bit of the flavor of the bean, so keep that in mind as you first approach using flour made with beans. Mung beans are a low flavor bean and are popular for making baked goods where pinto bean flour makes a nice pizza crust. Lentils are a strong, nutty flavor but mix well with the flavor of bananas and cinnamon, so is a good choice for a flavorful dessert bread.
Nuts are also used as flour and can be mixed with water to make dairy-free milk. Nuts, like beans, will leave a taste of what they are, so keep this in mind. For example, cooking with cashew flour will offer a sweeter flavor than cooking with hazelnut flour. The various flours can also be mixed to make a gluten-free, all-purpose flour with a neutral flavor.
Cereal Grains also make nice flour. Your standard rolled oats can be whirled in a blender until it is fine, then used as flour. Oat flour is a nice, neutral flavor and can be used in just about any recipe. Barley is commonly found in enriched flour but also can stand alone in a recipe.
Peppers, Carrots, Pumpkin and More
Peppers, carrots, pumpkin, tomato…you get the idea. All of these can be made into flour. Peppers and tomato flour, mixed with another type of flour; make great pasta or bread. I like combining peppers, tomato and carrot flour with a standard bread flour when making dinner rolls. Green beans, peas, pretty much anything from your garden can be dehydrated and ground into flour. Vegetable flours do not naturally bind together so may need another type of flour to help them stick together and rise.
One thing a good, baked product needs is a binder. This can be oil, eggs and of course, the flour. As I mentioned above, some flours need help sticking together. Experiment with your favorite flours and recipes to see how they work. To get you going, here are some of my favorite recipes:
Grains and Legumes for Flour
Science Channel Explains How Flour is Made
These muffins are made using pureed pumpkin, not the pumpkin flour. You can successfully add sweet potato flour in place of some of your all-purpose flour.
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon (or more for taste)
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup granulated sugar (Add up to ½ cup more to taste)
2/3 cup oil
1 cup milk
3 eggs (I am allergic to eggs, so leave them out with no adverse affect on the recipe)
Oven: 350 F Cook time: 25 min
Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl, or food processor container. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until combined. Batter will be slightly lumpy.
Before baking, you can add in one or more of these add-ins. Keep in mind that it may affect the consistency of your batter so more milk or flour may be needed.
Tip: Only using one add-in will not affect your muffins negatively, but may cause addictive reaction to its goodness. Adjust recipe, if needed, when adding in more.
- Bran and raisin cereal
- Dried or fresh Cranberries
- Blueberries, fresh or frozen
- Chopped, frozen Cherries
- Any flake type cereal
- Chocolate chips (or any other flavor)
- Strong coffee (in place of milk, NOT in addition to)
Bake 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan before removing, to avoid collapsing on the sides.
Bread from Unbleached All Purpose Flour
Basic Bread Dough
1 ¾ cup very warm water
1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp yeast
2 tbls oil
1 -2 tbls sugar
4 ½ cups flour, divided
I use a food processor to knead my bread, though I have also used this same recipe in a bread machine and when I make bread completely hand kneaded.
Place 2 cups flour in food processor, add yeast and pulse once or twice. Add very warm water, oil and sugar, blend for a few seconds until smooth. Add remaining flour and pulse until dough sticks together and forms a ball. Turn out on a floured surface and knead in a little more flour, if dough is too sticky. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size. Shape as desired, let rise again and
Bake at 425 F oven.
If using a bread machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If kneading by hand, knead about 10 minutes until dough forms a smooth ball.
I like to divide the dough into fourths and form small loaves. These loaves bake for about 20 minutes. A full loaf will bake about 25-30 minutes.
Tips: Look for a nice, light brown crust. Tap on loaf and listen for a hollow sound. This will indicate a finished loaf of bread.
For rolls, bake for 10-15 minutes. The rolls will not sound hollow, but will have a nice texture.
Cinnamon Rolls Cooking
Using the basic bread dough recipe, after the first rise, punch dough down and allow to rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼ to ½ inch.
Butter liberally and sprinkle with white or brown sugar. Sprinkle a liberal amount of cinnamon on sugared dough, then starting at the long side, roll dough into a log. Slice into ½ inch discs and place on greased baking sheet.
Allow to rise in warm place until double.
Bake at 350 F for about 20-30 minutes.
Whole Wheat Butter Bread
For this bread, I halved the all purpose, unbleached flour with whole wheat flour. Example: 2 cups unbleached flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour. I used butter instead of oil in the recipe for Basic Bread, and buttered the finished product while it was hot from the oven. The photo of butter is one I took. I thought it looked neat.
© 2016 Cynthianne Neighbors