All Purpose Flour
There are several different types of flour that can be used in cooking. The most commonly used type of flour is called all-purpose flour. It can be used in breads, cookies, as a thickening agent, breadings for meats, and much more. It is also sometimes referred to as general purpose flour. All-purpose flour is always made from wheat. The types of wheat that can be used are hard red (winter or spring) wheat, soft red winter wheat, and white wheat (hard or soft).
The flour comes in two varieties, bleached and unbleached. Most comes pre-sifted. Unbleached flour is not treated with any color modifiers or maturing ingredients. It will be a whitish-cream color. Bleached flour has been treated with a color modifying ingredient or a maturing agent. It will be white in color. A package of flour will also say that it is enriched, meaning that certain ingredients are added to the flour to increase the nutritional value.
The texture of all purpose flour is that it should be free flowing and not have any lumps that don’t break apart with lightly applied pressure from the finger. Standards for the quality of when required by the Food and Drug Administration are found in the Code of Federal Regulations 21.137. The minimum protein percentage required by the FDA is 9%. The maximum ash level is .5%, and the maximum moisture allowed is 15%.
Other types of flour include the following: hard wheat bread, hearth-style bread, cake (which is also called soft wheat), pastry, whole wheat, rye, and oat. There are other things that can be made into flour as well such as peanuts, coconut and other grains, but these are not very common.
Once you open a bag of flour, it should be stored in a cool dry place such as a canister or a tightly wrapped bag. Typically a bag has a recommended shelf life of about a year after purchase. If you don’t use very much, you can extend the shelf life of your flour by wrapping it in a plastic storage bag and refrigerating or freezing. Just be sure that if you do freeze flour that you give it time to get back to room temperature before using it. A variety of kitchen pests may want to get into it, so a sealed container is always best.
If your recipe calls for self-rising flour, you can substitute all purpose by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
If your recipe calls for 1 pound of flour, use 3 1/2 cups. The best way to measure is to spoon the ingredient into a measuring cup so that it is overflowing then use a table knife to scrape off the excess from the top.