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Check Your Flour...We Dare You!

Flour is a powder obtained by grinding grain, usually wheat.  So, unless you are using nut, corn, or rice flours, there really should only be 1 ingredient in your baking flour:  

wheat.

This will only take a minute...go in your pantry, grab that bag of flour, and look at the ingredient list.  If you don't have any on hand, let me tell you about some of the things you would find, which are the 3 Reasons to Check your Flour:  

1.  IN MANY WHITE FLOURS ON US GROCERY STORE SHELVES, THE FIRST INGREDIENT IS THIS:  "BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR"

Bleached, as in Chlorine Bleach.  

Flour is aged before being sold, and simply exposing it to air for several weeks ages and oxidizes it the natural, old fashioned way.  However, bleaching is performed by many companies to make flour look whiter, finer, and speed up its natural aging process.  

2.  ANOTHER METHOD COMPANIES USE TO CHEMICALLY SPEED UP THE NATURAL AGING PROCESS OF FLOUR IS BY UTILIZING POTASSIUM BROMATE (KBRO3) 

Bromate, a known carcinogen, was banned years ago in numerous countries, such as Canada and the UK.  In California, pastries are required to display a cancer warning if they contain flour with certain amounts of bromate.  If your flour label doesn't say "unbromated," chances are Potassium Bromate was used in its aging process. 

Next up on many flour labels are these:

3.  "THIAMINE MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), NIACIN (VITAMIN B3), IRON, FOLIC ACID"

Ok...vitamins sound good, but why are they listed and added in separately?  Well, during the processing of wheat to make white flour, the larger bran and germ sections of the wheat berry are sifted away, leaving only the endosperm.  That's why white flour is so much finer and more mild in flavor than whole wheat flour, which contains all three parts of the wheat berry.  

Since some vitamins are lost by not including these other two sections of the wheat berry in white flour, it was decided that chemically created, synthetic versions of some of these vitamins should be added back in, "enriching" the flour.  The problem is, our bodies don't always know how to properly process these unnatural chemicals.   

So what should you look for when buying flour?

Whole Wheat flour will be your most nutritious choice, as it contains all 3 parts of the wheat berry and the highest amounts of vitamins.  However, when baking a delicate pastry to treat yourself or your family to something special, white flour is going to be the best choice.  Look for the following on the flour's packaging: 

UNBLEACHED--IF YOUR FLOUR DOESN'T SPECIFICALLY SAY "UNBLEACHED," CHANCES ARE, IT HAS BEEN BLEACHED

UNBROMATED--NO USE OF POTASSIUM BROMATE

UNENRICHED--NO CHEMICALLY PRODUCED VITAMINS ADDED

Essentially, look for ONE ingredient only:  WHEAT!

Here at PastryBase, we make hand-blended cupcake mixes, dough mixes, and frosting mixes using the highest quality, all-natural ingredients, including unbleached, unbromated, unenriched flours.  Watch out for the opening of our Online Store this fall, which will include the debut of our Monthly Baking Box Subscription!

So let us know:  What was in your flour?  Do you have a favorite brand?

 

sources:

http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2013/05/what-is-enriched-flour/

http://organics.org/bleached-vs-unbleached-flour/

seriouseats.com

bobsredmill.com

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/bromate.html

 


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