When it comes to baking, flour will always remain a constant, regardless of the recipe. From bread and biscuits to cookies and cakes, flour is an essential ingredient whose main function is to build the structure of your pastry.
Nowadays, there are different types of flour available for purchase in the supermarket, and they all offer viable options for baking.
However, because baking is such a precise process, it’s crucial to know what properties each type of flour has and which pastry they’re suitable for. If you want your baked goods to turn out appealing and delicious, you must have an adequate understanding of the various types of flour.
To help you get started, below are some of the most important things you need to know about the two major types of flour – plain and self-rising flours.
What is Plain Flour?
Plain flour, also called “all-purpose flour,” is a type of flour that commonly consists of refined wheat only and has no extra ingredients. It’s either milled from hard red wheat or a blend of hard and soft wheat. Because it usually has low gluten and protein content, this is the ideal flour for cakes and pastries where a crumbly texture is needed.
Because plain flour contains no extra ingredients, including rising agents, your cakes and pastries won’t rise if you use this type of flour as it is. You’ll need to add a rising agent, such as yeast or baking powder, into the plain flour if you want your baked goods to rise and become appetisingly fluffy.
What is the Advantage of Using Plain Flour?
The main advantage of plain flour is its versatility and general use. It’s called “all-purpose flour” because it’s a versatile ingredient that’s suitable for numerous types of baked goods. Some of the goods include bread, biscuits, cookies, muffins, and many others. Chefs also use this type of flour in thickening sauces.
Unless you’re an avid baker, plain flour is usually your best option because its average protein content makes it highly flexible for baking purposes.
What is Self-Rising Flour?
In its simplest description, self-rising flour is a type of flour that has salt and baking powder incorporated into it. Unlike plain flour, self-rising flour already comes pre-mixed with a fixed distribution of salt and a raising agent out of the box.
Generally, self-rising flour also has a lower protein content, so it’s often used in recipes that benefit from being lighter and more tender, like biscuits.
When using this type of flour, it’s highly advised to double-check your measurements and stick to the one indicated in the recipe, as adding in additional baking powder or salt can ruin the taste of your batter!
What is the Advantage of Using Self-Rising Flour?
Obviously, the main advantage that you’ll gain from using self-rising flour is the fact that you’ll no longer need to purchase and add salt and a raising agent to your recipe. This provides you with more time and convenience whenever you’re baking.
When it comes to prices, a self-raising agent is also slightly less expensive compared to plain flour. However, when using this type of flour as a substitute for the other types, make sure you do so very carefully to avoid the leavening effect.
Are the Two Types of Flour Interchangeable?
There are times when you might be tempted to use all-purpose flour or a self-rising one as a substitute when the other type of flour that you need is unavailable. However, if you’re wondering whether or not this is okay, the quick answer to your question is no.
As a rule of thumb, always stick to the type of flour recommended by your recipe. Plain/all-purpose flour and self-rising flour are not interchangeable in baking.
Flour is indeed one of the core ingredients to all the cakes and pastries you’ve come to know and love. All your favourite baked goods won’t look appetising and taste delicious without this essential ingredient.
Hence, if you want to be able to make your beloved pastries perfectly at home, you need to understand the two major types of flour and how they differ from each other. Although there are other tricks to baking, knowing the right flour to use brings you a step closer to becoming a pro at baking!
In the meantime, even if you don’t have all the ingredients you need or you’re simply too busy to bake, you can always buy pastries online to satisfy your cravings for mouthwatering baked goods.
At Polar Puffs & Cakes, we offer some of the best quality, scrumptious cakes and pastries you can find in Singapore – to learn more about our cakes and pastries, check out our online catalogue now and order a cake online today!