When baking cakes and biscuits, we want softness in texture. Using strong bread flour can be a disaster! Try these soft flours for maximum success in baking cakes, pastries and biscuits.
Cake flour is milled from soft wheat which has a lower protein content. Lower amounts of protein mean there is less of a gluten/gliadin structure formed when water is added and the dough is kneaded, which clearly means bread made from such flour cannot have the volume and open texture of that made from strong high protein flour.
It must be said however that there is a zone between Hard and Soft which encompasses French and some English wheat for example, which can make excellent bread in the right hands….and cake!
Cake flour therefore has a higher amount of starch than bread flour, and this is pleasing as it melds with butter and sugar to form cake or pastry, and with the softest wheat, biscuits. Cake does not have to be as well risen and dry as bread, and the soft or fluffy texture is what we appreciate in our cakes and pastries.
Cake flour can be blended in varying amounts with stronger wheat to create proprietary flours for special purposes. Softer wheat often has a more pronounced wheaten or “biscuit” flavour than strong wheat and is often blended with strong flours for this purpose, and blended with strong flours to be used for sourdough leavens to make a more mellow fermentation.
Soft flour with good flavour was always the last addition in the long staged ferments traditionally used by English bakers. This provided very good flavour and was safe in that it did not have to survive the rigours of long fermentation.
This is usually a soft, low protein flour which has a carefully selected slow-acting raising agent added. As soon as liquid is added the agent is activated and leavening begins, requiring quick handling. Self-raising flour is used for cakes, scones American-style muffins and soda breads.
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The Shipton Millers
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Ideally flour should be kept in a sealed container in a cool dry place with stable temperature. Typically white flour has a shelf life from milling of 12 months. Wholemeal flour will be good for 6 months. More ...