In central Europe, the consumer is not confronted with the dizzying array of flours that greet the American baker. Most markets there carry three white flours: Universal variety (similar to our all-purpose flour, and sometimes called Typpe 480 in Austria), Glattes (literally “smooth,” with a moderate gluten content), and Griffiges (“bulky,” or high-gluten). In Hungary, there also is a gritty white flour called retesliszt for making strudel dough.
When testing my recipes for the American kitchen, I followed the European fashion and kept it simple by using only cake, all-purpose, and unbleached flours. The amount of protein in wheat flour affects the tenderness of the baked goods. When moistened, protein forms strands that strengthen with mixing and kneading. The lower the gluten content, the more tender the final result. Bleaching also reduces the gluten content. Wheat is the only grain with gluten, although rye contains small amounts. Cornstarch, which has no gluten, is sometimes combined with wheat flour to reduce the gluten content even more and give baked goods an especially delicate texture.
Most of the desserts in this book are made with bleached all-purpose flour, the moderate gluten content of which mimics the most commonly used European flour. Unbleached allpurpose flour has a high gluten content and works best with yeast-leavened recipes. All of the national brands are similar enough to use them interchangeably. Cake flour is a bleached, low-gluten flour that gives cake layers a fine crumb. Be sure to buy unleavened cake flour such as Softasilk or Swans Down, and not a self-rising brand with baking powder (Presto).
© 2002 All rights reserved. Published by Echo Point.