Choosing Your Flower To Make Bread
By: Jackson Sloat
SELECTION OF FLOUR.--If a large quantity of flour must be bought at one time, as, for instance, enough to last through an entire season, it is advisable to test it carefully before the purchase is made, so as to avoid the danger of getting a poor grade. As a rule, however, housewives are obliged to purchase only a small quantity at a time. In such cases, it will not be necessary to test the flour before purchasing it, provided a standard make is selected. Very often, too, a housewife in a small family finds it inconvenient to keep on hand a supply of both bread flour and pastry flour. In such an event, a blend flour, which, as has been mentioned, is a mixture of flour made from spring and winter wheat that will do for all purposes, is the kind to purchase. While such flour is not ideal for either bread or pastry, it serves the purpose of both very well.
QUALITY OF FLOUR.--Flour is put on the market in various grades, and is named according to its quality. The highest grade, or best quality, is called high-grade patent; the next grade, bakers'; and the next, second-grade patent. The lowest grade, or poorest quality, is called red dog. This grade is seldom sold for food purposes, but it is used considerably for the making of paste.
The quality of flour used in bread making is of very great importance, because flour of poor quality will not, of course, make good bread. Every housewife should therefore be familiar with the characteristics of good flour and should buy accordingly.
Several tests can be applied to flour to determine its kind and its quality. The first test is its color. Bread flour, or flour made from spring wheat, is usually of a creamy-white color, while pastry flour, or that made from winter wheat, is more nearly pure white in color. A dark, chalky-white, or gray color indicates that the flour is poor in quality. The second test is the feel of the flour. A pinch of good bread flour, when rubbed lightly between the thumb and the index finger, will be found to be rather coarse and the particles will feel sharp and gritty. When good pastry flour is treated in the same way, it will feel smooth and powdery. The third test is its adhering power. When squeezed tightly in the hand, good bread flour holds together in a mass and retains slightly the impression of the fingers; poor bread flour treated in the same way either does not retain its shape or, provided it contains too much moisture, is liable to make a damp, hard lump. The odor of flour might also be considered a test. Flour must not have a musty odor nor any other odor foreign to the normal, rather nutty flavor that is characteristic of flour.
The bleaching and adulteration of flour are governed by the United States laws. Bleaching is permitted only when it does not reduce the quality or strength nor conceal any damage or inferiority. Such flour must be plainly labeled to show that it has been bleached.
CARE OF FLOUR.--There is considerable economy in buying flour in large quantities, but unless an adequate storing place can be secured, it is advisable to buy only small amounts at a time. Flour absorbs odors very readily, so that when it is not bought in barrels it should if possible be purchased in moisture-proof bags. Then, after it is purchased, it should be kept where it will remain dry and will not be accessible to odors, for unless the storage conditions are favorable, it will soon acquire an offensive odor and become unfit for use. Flour sometimes becomes infested with weevils, or beetles, whose presence can be detected by little webs. To prevent the entrance of insects and vermin of all kinds, flour should be kept in tightly closed bins after it is taken from the barrels or sacks in which it is purchased. If newly purchased flour is found to be contaminated with such insects, it should be returned to the dealer.
Information on cooking ribs can be found at the Easy Home Cooking site.
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