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Prairie Fare: Bake and Take a Treat to a Friend

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
The protein content of all-purpose flour is about 8 to 11 percent, while the protein content of bread flour varies from 12 to 14 percent.

By Julie Garden Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

A few weeks ago, I decided to turn over bread-mixing duties to my 12-year-old daughter for a day. She was a little reluctant, but after nine years as my assistant baker, I figured she was ready.

When I arrived back from grocery shopping, I peeked at the dough under the dishtowel and plastic wrap. I noted there was quite a bit of flour in the bottom of the bowl and some sticky spots.

“The recipe didn’t say what kind of flour to use, so I used all-purpose. It was so sticky that I kept adding flour and adding flour,” she remarked.

“And adding more flour?” I asked as I picked the floury hunk of dough out of the bowl to examine.

That probably wasn’t my best choice of words. She left the kitchen. This is why I’m a food specialist and not a parenting specialist, I thought to myself.

I coaxed my assistant baker back into the kitchen, and we finished kneading the dough. We talked about different types of flour and the chemistry involved in making baked goods. In the end, our bread turned out just fine and we shared it with the family.

All flour is not the same. Substituting all-purpose for bread flour in a recipe that calls for bread flour usually requires making some adjustments. All-purpose flour has less protein than bread flour, so it absorbs less water.

The protein content of all-purpose flour is about 8 to 11 percent, while the protein content of bread flour varies from 12 to 14 percent. This difference in composition affects the properties of the final baked product.

Bread flour has greater gluten strength than all-purpose flour. The mixing and kneading process develops the gluten, which forms the framework of bread.

Here’s a little quiz about some types of flour. See how you do. The answers are at the end.

  1. This type of flour is milled from soft wheat. It has a higher percentage of starch and less protein than other flours. It’s used to make tender, delicate baked goods. What is it?
  2. This type of flour contains all parts of the grain: the germ, endosperm and bran. It has more fiber than other types of flour. Usually you can substitute about half of all-purpose flour with this type of flour. What is it? (Bonus: Can you name more than one of its names?)
  3. This is the ground endosperm of durum wheat, which has a golden color. It is used to make various types of pasta, but it rarely is used to make bread. What is it?
  4. This type of flour has added baking powder and salt. It commonly is used to make biscuits and quick breads, but not yeast bread. What is it?

The answers: 1. Cake flour (pastry flour also would meet this definition); 2. Whole-wheat or whole-grain flour or graham flour; 3. Semolina; 4. Self-rising flour

If you like to bake and you figured out at least one of the answers, consider participating in “Bake and Take” Day on March 26. Brighten someone’s day by bringing him or her some freshly baked bread or cookies.

This tasty recipe is courtesy of the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the sponsor of Bake and Take Day. The recipe has reduced cholesterol by using egg white, soluble fiber from the oatmeal and natural antioxidants from the dried cherries or cranberries. Half of the fat in the recipe is from heart-healthy oil.

Cherry Almond Cookies

1/2 c. softened butter

1/3 c. oil (such as canola or sunflower oil)

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed

1 egg white

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

3/4 c. crisp rice cereal

3/4 c. rolled oats

3/4 c. dried cherries (or cranberries)

1/4 c. finely chopped almonds

With an electric mixer, cream together butter, oil, and white and brown sugar. Add egg white and vanilla; beat until well mixed. In small bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar and stir into butter mixture. Gently stir in cereal, oats, cherries and nuts. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven eight to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool slightly and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Each cookie has about 94 calories, 12 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 4 g of fat and 73 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – March 3, 2011

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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