How to Choose the Right Flour for the Job

Holiday How To — Day Six — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

As the holiday baking season gets underway, it’s important to stock your pantry with the right flour for the right job. Most recipes will specify what type of flour you should use, but just in case here’s a quick primer on three popular flours to make sure your cakes, cookies, breads and whatever else you’re baking turn out just right.

Let’s start at the beginning. Flour is made by grinding wheat. The different sections of the wheat kernel produce flours of different textures when they’re ground. The harder parts of the wheat kernel have a higher protein content and produce a harder, coarser flour. Softer parts of the wheat kernel, which have lower protein content, produce softer, finer flour.

All-Purpose Flour (APF) is a mix of both hard and soft flours. Consider this the workhouse of flours since it’s produced to work in a variety of foods.

Bread Flour is a hard flour. It has a coarser texture and more protein than APF. The extra protein makes it ideal for making, you guessed it, breads.

Cake Flour is a soft flour. Its fine texture makes it perfect for producing tender cakes and cookies. You can make your own cake flour by measuring one cup of APF. Remove two tablespoons of the flour from the cup and replace it with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift and voila, cake flour.

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