There is a direct relationship between the quality of wheat and the quality of the final baked product. Wheat determines the quality of flour, and the better the flour, the better the gluten. Soft wheat contains little gluten and is better for pastry making. Hard wheat contains a larger proportion of gluten and is best in bread. The more gluten in wheat flour, the lighter the baked good, and the less gluten, the denser the product.
All-purpose white flour is obtained by grinding and mixing different varieties of hard and soft wheat. It can be used for any purpose, as its name indicates.
Enriched wheat flour is used to make enriched white bread. The nutritional elements in enriched bread come from the flour.
Unbleached flour is naturally aged. It contains no food additives and no bleaches
Bleached flour is whitened artificially with food additives that contain either calcium or phosphorous. Oxidation of the flour makes the gluten stronger or more elastic, which renders better cooking results. Bleaching agents produce products that are lighter, larger in volume and have a finer grain and lighter color.
Whole-wheat flour has the highest fiber content of any flour. White flour can be substituted for wheat flour in most recipes but sometimes a slightly larger amount is needed. Whole-wheat flour is often used to make bread or pastries that do not require elasticity like short-crust pastry, shortbread or cookies. Whole-wheat flour should be stored in the refrigerator.
Hard wheat flour is whole-grain flour that is used to make pancakes and pasta. It should be sifted several times if used to make bread.
Bread flour is milled from a blend of hard wheat. It is slightly granular and, because it has a very high protein content, usually only used in bakeries.
Soft wheat flour is used to make muffins or pie crusts.
Cake flour is white flour made exclusively of finely-ground soft wheat. It is highly refined and it comes from the last grindings. Because this flour is higher in starch and lower in protein and gluten, it is ideal for very light cakes but not recommended for bread.
Pastry flour is usually made with soft wheat but it may also be made using hard wheat. Low in gluten, it is finely ground but not quite as light as cake flour. It is used to make pastries, biscuits or cakes. It should not be used in leavened bread.
Wheatmeal flour is obtained when the bran is removed from wheat before it is finely ground. Wheatmeal flour is mostly used to make pastry, cookie, and pizza dough.
Gluten flour is obtained from high-protein whole durum wheat that is washed to remove the starch, dried and then ground. Gluten flour is generally made up of 45% gluten and 55% white flour. It can be used with whole-wheat flour or with low-gluten flours such as rye, barley, or oat flour.
Spelt flour is made from an ancient variety of wheat. Spelt is very high in gluten content which makes it suitable for bread and is often used in artisan bakeries for its delicious taste.
Kamut flour gets its name from the commercial trademark “Kamut”; its scientific name is “khorasan” wheat. It is best used to make pasta.Read More
This time of year tomatoes, corn, and other vegetables are plentiful. Most fruit stands and grocery stores feature fantastic varieties from local farmers. This weekend, as I gathered my half-dozen or so tomatoes for salads, I was thinking about what cookie was possible with tomatoes, and I remembered David Lebovitz’s rosemary cookies with tomato jam. This recipe was first published in David’s 2010 cookbook, Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes. When preparing this recipe, make the tomato jam a few hours or even a day ahead, so that it has completely cooled before filling the cookies.
Rosemary Cookies with Tomato Jam
Makes about 24 cookies
Makes 2 cups
2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 large)
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 or 3 grinds of black pepper
Big pinch of salt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 tablespoons sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, cut out the stem end of each tomato, then slice a shallow X in the bottom.
Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water until their skins loosen, about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let cool. When cool enough to handle, slip off their skins. Discard the water, but save the saucepan for cooking the jam.
Halve the tomatoes at their equator and gently squeeze out the seeds and juice. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Return the tomatoes to the saucepan and stir in the sugar, pepper, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure that the mixture is cooking evenly, until most of the liquid has cooked off. If foam occasionally rises to the top, skim it off with a large spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly, let cool, and refrigerate. The jam will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.
In a stand mixer (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed just until smooth. Mix in the egg yolks, then the rosemary. Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough is smooth and holds together.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log about 6 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1 hour.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice the logs into disks 1/4 inch inch thick and place the disks about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely.
Spread a scant 1 1/2 teaspoons of the jam on the underside of half of the cookies. Top the jam with a second cookie, bottom side down, to make sandwiches. Once filled, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.Read More
This cookie is great for a family picnic, movie night or a rainy-day campout in the living room. The recipe is from my book, Gluten-Free Cookies. Be sure to use gluten-free graham crackers and gluten-free marshmallows.
Rocky Road S’Mores Bars
Makes 20 cookies
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 tablespoons almond flour
3/4 cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (about 6 crushed graham crackers)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup gluten-free miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350oF. Line the sides and bottom of a 13 x 9-inch or 12 x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang of about 3-inches on two opposite edges.
In a medium bowl, sift together brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum. Whisk in almond flour.
In the large bowl of a food processor, combine flour mixture, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar. Pulse to mix. Add butter, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg, pulsing until just combined.
Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared baking pan and smooth top. Bake until firm to touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. While crust is baking, prepare topping.
For the topping:
Coarsely chop 1/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of the milk chocolate chips. In a saucepan over low heat, heat cream until simmering. Add chopped chocolate chips, stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat. Set aside.
As soon as crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows, and walnuts evenly over crust, and press down lightly with fingers. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top and return baking pan to oven. Bake until marshmallows puff and begin to turn golden, about 7 to 8 minutes. Cool uncut cookies in baking pan on a wire rack. If necessary, refrigerate until topping is firm, about 1 to 2 hours. Lift uncut cookies out of pan, using foil overhang as an aid, and cut into 20 cookies.
Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Baker’s note: For a sweeter cookie, replace the semisweet chocolate chips with 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips.Read More