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Flour

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by wigy, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. wigy

    wigy New commenter

    I have taken to trying a bit of baking after many years of shop cakes. Historicaly we have used the cheapest flour in the shop. Are there any advantages in more expensive flours?
     
  2. I am really not an expert unlike many others on here but I always use "00" flour which is a bit more expensive for making pasta and extra thin and crisp pizza bases. I try my hand at quite a bit of baking too and more and more cake recipes seemed to require plain flour and baking powder rather than self raising. Not having huge amounts of knowledge in the area I usually just follow the recipes to the letter. So I have tried using the "00" plain flour in some cakes as it is supposed to be extra fine and good for baking. I have to say that all of the cakes seem much lighter when using the plain flour plus baking powder and I don't really think that the "00" flour makes much difference. I do think that using proper unsalted butter makes a huge difference however and I always use it when baking. I have bought so many baking recipe books but my favourites are two Hummingbird Bakery ones which are just fabulous and everything I have tried has turned out to look just like the pictures and taste great. I can promise you that this is certainly not because I am the best chef in the world at all so it must be down to the recipes - although some of the instructions can seem a little too unnecessarily detailed!!! Have fun and happy baking. I'm sure that you will get some great advice on here as everyone seems to know lots and lots and I have got so many great ideas from them.
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  3. ljr

    ljr New commenter

    I sometimes use the 'value' flours from supermarkets & I don't think the family ever notice - possibly if it was a special cake, or for a competition I would buy the expensive flours. As long as you use the correct one - self raising or plain I'm sure you will be fine. Happy Baking
     
  4. I always use the value flours apart from when I make pasta and I have never had a problem. My Christmas cake is made with value everything and it is always delicious.
    I do generally use plain flour and baking powder, sometimes I may use SR flour and add a bit of extra baking powder.
    I find the oven is the key to good cakes. I was horrified when I got my new oven because my cakes were drier and I think it is down to the fan. Luckily I can use my oven as a conventional oven too so that problem has been sorted.
     
  5. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    When you use flour, the important thing is the protein content ie glutenen and gliadine, which combine together to make gluten, the stretchy bit required to make good bread.
    This can be found in the 'strong' bread flours and in 00 flour used for pasta.
    I am horrified that the OP uses 00 flour to make cakes as you need a less strong flour for these. You can buy special cake flour which has a lower protein content, or you can use a cornflour/ordinary flour mix for lighter sponges.
    The value flours are fine to use but for really good bread use the Extra Strong flour or one of the speciality flours like the granary or seeded flours.
     
  6. I always use value flour for cakes, biscuits etc but I would use a good strong flour for bread.
     
  7. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    I use low-cost flours for baking but use a good quality strong bread flour one for making breads.
     
  8. wigy

    wigy New commenter

    Thank you all, glad to hear cheap is best!
     
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Strong flour for bread and pizza dough.
    Speciall 00 flour for pasta.
    Any value flour for cakes and biscuits and sauces. The only difference between the value flours and the top-priced branded ones is that the expensive ones have been sifted more in the production process. Invest in a cheap plastic sieve, sift your value flour and get the light texture you get from the expensive ones!
     
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    The value flours are often not as finely milled as the more expensive, branded flours and often are lumpy.
    For pastry making different brands (value or otherwise) absorb different amounts of water, so it's important you add enough water to bind the dough and not necessarily the quantity given in a recipe (if using one).
    Bread needs strong bread flour and pasta needs pasta flour though and all are labelled in the supermarket.
     
  11. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I'm going to buck the general trend and say you get what you pay for with flour.
    I'd happily use a supermarket's own flour but not a value one. I always use unbleached flour for everything. This usually means buying organic flour, but I'm buying it for the lack of bleaching agent rather than the other organic factors.
    If I'm making bread, I tend to use a good, strong, unbleached white flour. Doves Farm is the most widely available high quality bread floour, so this tends to be what I buy. It's not the cheapest but I don't mind paying for it as it's very good flour.
     
  12. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I agree nick.
    I don't use value flour for the reasons stated in my post. I usually use Homepride as I get a good result and it comes in a carboard pack which is easy to use and store then I recycle it!

     
  13. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    I have a bag of basics flour which I use when I need to scatter flour to stop something sticking or when I flour a tin.
    I was brought up on Homepride.
    I love Dove's for bread, but it is desperately expensive!
     
  14. What a good idea, using 'cheap' flour for dusting, thanks for the tip. I have the 15p bags in stock for making play-dough for the kids.
    When making bread, my husband, who has the most unrefined palate imaginable, can immediately tell if I have used Waitrose Canadian Bread Flour or an alternative. He can't tell the difference between any of the other brands/types of flour, but he can distinguish this Canadian one and he moans his head off if I make bread without it. I keep testing him, he always catches me out! It's actually not the most expensive flour that Waitrose do, but it's not the cheapest, so I don't always use it, plus I don't shop at Waitrose very often. I do point out that the food miles involved are ridiculous, to which he says that we do our bit for the environment because we can see the Walkers Crisp Factory from our bedroom window, so we're mostly eating local food.There's no arguing with that.
     
  15. I am totally going to buck the trend... I just use any old flour I have to hand.
    Everything turns out fine.
    I often use any old odds and sods I have left over and mix them all together.
    I am not saying there is no difference, but I am more a product of my upbringing and to be honest, do you really think in bygone years, that the woman of the house had much choice about her flour?
    The most important ingredient in any meal is the love for those you are cooking for. We should not (IMHO), always strive to be perfect. It stifles.

     
  16. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    So am I. My parents bought what they could afford. I do this as well. My parents could afford less when they were my age, but that doesn't mean I need to buy what they bought.
    No, she didn't but in bygone years people didn't have much choice about what sort of eggs they ate, unless they had a garden and could keep their own chickens. This didn't make powdered eggs any more palatable. You don't find many people wistfully longing for margarine, either.
    I completely agree, but no-one's mentioned perfectionism. We're talking about providing the best food we can afford for our loved ones - and that certainly is love. I could cook a meal for my family with a cheap, hormone-pumped battery hen or I could cook one with a beautiful, slow-reared free-range one that coist two or three times the price and could put the same amount of love into each one - we know which one would taste better.
     
  17. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I'm with nick on this one!
     
  18. I certainly agree on the chicken.
    I am just not too ambitious as far as flour is concerned [​IMG] (although I don't bake much anyway - so I tend to have more grains in the house, such as my beloved roast spelt).
     

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