Yes, all purpose flour and plain flour are the same ingredient.
Plain flour is what all-purpose flour is called in the UK.
All-purpose flour and plain flour are the same.
They are made from starch and gluten, milled usually from a blend of hard and soft wheat and contain about the same amount of protein.
However, there are slight differences in how they are processed.
All-purpose flour is usually but not always bleached, while plain flour is not.
So, all-purpose flour has a slightly whiter color and slightly finer texture.
Just like all-purpose-flour in the U.S., plain flour is the most common type of flour used in the UK, and it can be used in a variety of recipes.
What Flour to Use for Cookies?
Rose Levy Beranbaum, one of the baking queens, (she published The Cake Bible and just this past year The Cookie Bible) calls flour the most important ingredient in baking.
Use bleached all purpose flour for baking your cookies because it has the right protein content to create the ideal cookie texture.
The more protein a flour has, the more gluten it can form.
Gluten is what gives your baked goods structure.
Have you ever eaten a sandwich made with gluten-free bread and found yourself holding just crumbs of bread instead of a slice before you've finished eating?
Beranbaum suggests sticking with a national flour brand like Gold Medal or King Arthur because protein levels vary widely in regional brands.
More protein in flour will produce browner, thinner, chewier cookies, the author said.
"Bleached all purpose and cake flours contain less protein, so because less water is tied up by the flour, it turns to steam and makes the cookies puffier. Less gluten forms as well, which makes cookies more tender." -Rose Levy Berenbaum in The Cookie Bible
But maybe you want browner, flatter, chewier cookies?
Then use unbleached flour with my blessing. I love me a flat, chewy cookie.
Can I use Cake Flour in Cookies?
You can use cake flour in cookies.
In fact, some home bakers prefer to use cake flour in their cookies because it results in a softer, more delicate cookie.
- Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. So your cookie dough with cake flour will not develop as much gluten when you mix the dough. Gluten is one way cookies get their chewy texture, so cookies baked with cake flour will be softer and more delicate.
Types of Flours and their Uses
|Type of Flour||Protein Content||Uses|
|All-purpose flour||10-12%||General purpose flour for cakes, biscuits, pastries, and breads.|
|Self-rising flour||10-12%||Contains baking powder and salt, making it ideal for quick breads and biscuits.|
|Cake flour||7-9%||Low protein content results in a tender, delicate crumb.|
|Bread flour||12-14%||High protein content results in a chewy, sturdy crumb.|
|Whole wheat flour||10-14%||Contains the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ, which adds fiber and nutrients.|
Protein levels and recommended uses of each type of flour:
|Flour Type||Protein Level||Recommended Uses|
|All-Purpose Flour||8-11%||Baking, Cooking, Thickening|
|Self-Rising Flour||8-10%||Biscuits, Quick Breads|
|Bread Flour||11-13%||Yeast Breads, Pizza Dough|
|Cake Flour||6-8%||Cakes, Muffins, Quick Breads|
|Pastry Flour||8-9%||Pastries, Pies, Tarts|
|White Whole Wheat Flour||13%||Bread, Pizza Dough, Muffins|
|Whole Wheat Flour||13-14%||Yeast Breads, Pizza Dough|
|Almond Flour||6g per ¼ cup||Gluten-Free Baking, Low-Carb Baking|
|Coconut Flour||3g per ¼ cup||Gluten-Free Baking, Low-Carb Baking|
Substitute for All Purpose Flour in Cookies
- Almond flour - Use almond flour if you need to make gluten-free cookies. It has a nutty flavor and produces a soft, chewy texture.
- Oat flour - It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and can produce a softer, more delicate cookie texture.
- Coconut flour - While coconut flour is a good option for gluten-free baking, it's not the best substitute for all-purpose flour in cookie recipes as it tends to be more absorbent and can produce a drier, crumbly texture.
- Whole wheat flour - This flour is a healthier alternative to all-purpose flour and can produce a slightly denser cookie texture with a nutty flavor.
When substituting all purpose flour in a cookie recipe, remember the texture and flavor may be slightly different.
Experiment with different ratios and combinations to achieve the best results.
It's important to note that the protein levels in each type of flour can vary depending on the brand and the type of wheat or grain used.
How to Store Flour
The best way to store flour is in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. This way you'll avoid getting moisture and pests in the flour.
Moisture is the enemy of flour.
Dampness or moisture can cause flour to clump together and create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
Also moisture can cause the flour to go rancid, which means it starts developing an unpleasant taste and smell.
This is because the moisture causes the natural oils in the flour to oxidize, leading flour to spoil.
Some options for airtight containers include glass jars with tight-fitting lids or plastic containers with snap-on lids.
Of course, it's important to make sure the container is completely dry before putting the flour in to avoid any moisture getting trapped inside.
It's also a good idea to label the container with the type of flour and the date it was purchased or opened, so you can keep track of how long it's been stored.
Generally, all-purpose flour can be stored for up to six months, while whole wheat flour should be used within three months to prevent it from going rancid.
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