Flour!!!

my granny always use to say “where there is whisk there is always a way”

Saying that….As I opened my Fridge today morning to make my much needed cup of Morning Coffee after spending yet another sleepless night(Thanks to my 5 month old).There was brinjal,beans,some tomatoes and then my eye went to the sealed pack of fresh,ripe,red,juicy Carrots looking back at me begging to be eaten or “baked” to be precise.It was like that moment that they looked at me and said “you would love us in a cake”, So the coffee was forgotten out came the carrots and a call to my better half (by that i mean best friend) who happens to be a baking wizard(at least that’s what i believe or she makes me..hehe) asking for help with my recipe to bake a Carrot Cake. Since I have recently turned a Vegetarian (Yes. I am a recently turned vegetarian  after 30 years of eating anything and everything that moved,crawled or flew and No I don’t eat eggs either) so I was at my wits end on how to replace eggs in my recipe.

As quick as it can get I dialed her number and woke up Miss Nutty Bunch  (i call her that for a reason…she is Nuts you know…;) So after waking up my Lovely from her slumber and bugging her till she gave me some tips from her Pot of Gold on the replacements that could be added instead of eggs….& voila!! there it was freshly baked,smelling awesome The Carrot cake i had been dying to eat for days now.

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ehh….what’s up Doc??

After all the tug of war with the eggs it just came to my mind that our very first official baking post should be on the basics for all those who love it and still have some basic issues,or are new to the world of baking but still want to try new things for their loved ones( I have been there…believe me).So here comes a treat for all of you reading this blog The First part in our series of Basics of Baking.

I am not a chef. I am not even a trained or professional cook. My qualification is as an eater.

– Nigella Lawson

What is baking?? to me its a stress buster,to someone an art or for someone just a reason to eat a “CAKE”…(well that’s true for me too,isn’t it for everyone…hmmmm…i wonder).

Baking as we know is the prolonged method that uses science to mix everything in the right amount ,put in the oven and then control  yourself to lick the bowl or not to open the door the first 1/2 hour ( we will talk about it real soon,in the upcoming posts on basics).

Baking for me is baking the most common thing that usually people like to start with is either “CUPCAKES” or A” CAKE.”

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my very 1st cupcake..!!

So here we start with the basic things that you would or might need when you start baking.

what is the most common ingredient that goes into baking almost anything and everything ??

Flour also known as farine in french is the most commonly used ingredient when it comes to baking,especially when it comes to baking a cake. Yes there are cakes that might not use it,but most of them do and we are here to tell you all about “FLOUR” and its types and variations.

Most people think of flour in terms of wheat flour.Flour can be ground from a variety of nuts and seeds. Some types of flours that can be commonly found are arrowroot, barley, chickpea, corn, nuts, oats, potato, quinoa, rice, rye,tapioca,and wheat.

1. All purpose flour/flour/Maida

As the name suggests its used for all purposes,is most commonly & easily found at our local stores when it comes to baking or even as a matter of fact cooking. Whether you want to make a cake or an egg free version of the white sauce that you need for your pasta for your next dinner it all can be done with this “WHITE BEAUTY”.The most common brands that can be found in Delhi are Shakti Bhog,pillsbury,Aahar etc.,now that’s where i belong and have an idea about the brands from this part of the country,but it all comes to what you would like to use or what your recipe calls for…you could be diet conscious and would like whole wheat or wish to make a light airy sponge for your kids/boyfriend’s/husband’s B’day & the recipe calls for cake flour like i said there are so many flours and so much to talk about.

                                 Well having said that, is exactly what we will talk about next.

2.Whole wheat Flour

Again as the name suggests whole-wheat(regular aata that we find in every Indian household).Now this flour is usually brown in color and is derived from bran and the germ,it has a nutty texture and the breads or cakes in which whole wheat is used 100% don’t tend to rise as much as they would in APF or any others (which we will discuss further).The texture of this flour is also denser.

3.Cake flour

This flour has the least amount of protein and so because of that reason it is preferred to be used in making sponge cakes,genoise etc.It is available in supermarkets and on online sites however can be expensive.Here I will give you the recipe to substitute your regular APF with cake flour which can be used in the above sponges or if the recipe calls for.

This is a two ingredient Mix that can be easily made using Flour and Cornstarch(brands like Tops,Brown & Polson etc.)So for every cup of All Purpose flour replace 2 tablespoon of flour with cornstarch. Sift this mix 5 or 6 times and your Cake flour is ready. Use what you want and save the rest.

4. Self raising flour

Well there is a magical sound to the very name of this flour. The basic purpose of using this flour is that on every use you get the same nice rise to your Baked Product. A lot of recipes specifically ask for Self rising Flour. But if you read the recipe carefully you will notice that these recipes do not use Baking Powder and salt in them. So that is the magic of this magical flour.

All you need to do is for each cup of Flour Add 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder and 1/2 Teaspoon salt. Mix it well and you are good to go.

**reduce the liquid in the recipe somewhat,however the results are usually less tender(in my case)

**only substitute or use when the recipe calls for it.

**if the recipe asks for adding Baking powder separately then do that also with self raising flour.

5.Pastry flour

This flour is very similar to cake flour however might have slightly higher content of protein/gluten than cake flour. The recipe can be easily be replicated using the cake flour method.This flour is usually used for tarts,cookies,pie dough,muffins and sometimes even cake.

6.Gluten Free Flour:

Gluten is the protein present in Flour that helps it in rising and gives shape and chewy texture to the Baked Goods. So any Flour that is free from Gluten falls in the category of Gluten Free flour.People who have Gluten Allergies can replace their regular Flour with Gluten Free flour and Enjoy their Baked Savouries. Gluten free flour can be easily be made at home and some of the easy substitutes are using nuts like almonds,walnuts or grinding chickpea(besan),rice flour etc.

7.High Gluten Flour

This flour is usually the outcome from hard wheat and is high in fibre and protein.

8. Bread Flour

This flour is also known as hard flour/strong flour which brings us to the question why? The simple reason behind it is gluten/protein.This flour usually has higher content(12-14%) of protein than normal all purpose flour(8-11%) and you can easily make this at home by adding 1 tsp of gluten to your 1 cup of all purpose flour and you have your self bread flour which as the name suggests is used for baking breads.

9.Corn flour/corn meal

Corn flour should not be confused with corn starch because they two different things. Corn Flour is basically ground cornmeal(commonly known as Makai ka atta in India) and is easily available during winters at the local mills,it is yellow and color and has a powdery texture.This is the main ingredient in case you plan on making tortillas.

10.Corn Starch

This is usually white in color and is used as a binding agent,soup thickner and as an addition to some of the flours described above.

11.50-50

As the name suggests it is an Equal mix Flour. It is made by mixing Whole wheat Flour and All Purpose Flour in equal proportions. For those trying to replace All Purpose Flour with Whole Wheat Flour can use 50:50 Flour to begin with.The proportions can vary recipe to recipe.

 

 

The last 2 that I am about to describe are not Flours however can be used for the process of baking especially when you are baking breads or whole wheat cookies or any recipe that requires bread flour or bran as an added ingredient.

Gluten

Basically this is the protein that you would find in wheat and a lot of supermarkets are selling this in their own packaging.All you need to do is go to your local grocery stores like Nature’s basket,modern Bazaar,Le Marche and ask for it.Adding gluten to normal all purpose flour will make it easily into home made bread flour for baking those lovelies for dinner.

Bran

This is the hard outer layer of our cereal and by cereal i do not mean your morning cheerios…Bran is the by product of your refined flour and is rich in dietary fiber, the most common brands that sell bran separately are All Bran by Kelloggs, Mantra if you are looking for an organic product etc.

Neither Sugar nor Salt Tastes good by itself.Each is at its best when used to season other things.

Love is the same way use it to “season people”

 – Vera Nazari

 

 

 

 

 

 

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