Monday, February 25, 2013

In defense of all-purpose flour

So last semester I took a baking class (stop laughing), and one of the things that was learned was about different types of flours: cake flour, cookie flour, pastry flour, bread flour, with the notable absence of all-purpose flour. The idea was that while all-purpose flour could be used for anything, it wasn't particularly good for anything. And that, "All Purpose Flour! What is good for? Absolutely nothing!" was my mantra, as we used specific types of flour in a lab with a mix of modern equipment and some odd anachronistic pieces (some 1970s cookware, a microwave from the mid-1980s).

But things got a little muddled as time went on. The university is first-class, they're telling us to use specific flours for these recipes for their differences, and they're getting the cheapest ingredients they can find. Imperial Margarine, which has marginally more lipids than water (and it is the cheapest margarine you can get--I think even cheaper than "Country Crock"), "EconoMax Chocolate Flavored Chips" (the ultra-low-end cut-rate brand of the store), and the like.

While all-purpose flour can probably be bested by better flours, the difference is negligible compared to using cheap ingredients. The chocolate chip cookies made were terrible, but if they were made with all-purpose flour, sticks of butter, and the perennial classic Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chips, then they would be probably some of the best things I would've tasted all month. I just can't stand the blatant hypocrisy in that class! (besides, Cooks Illustrated recommends using all-purpose flour, and they do know food)