WIAW 159 – Flour!
Indeed it has continued (mostly) warm, and I have continued (mostly) feeling better – one blip of a nasty front affected both, but the trend, now – the trend is still positive.
As I said last week, I want to get back to baking experiments again. So I took a good look at my collection of flour and, well… this is going to be interesting. See, I am a curious person, and I do experiment, and I needed to understand gluten free flour, so…
I wanted to see what the difference was between different kinds of masa harina. The kind I’ve been buying – which appears to be the default – seems intended for tortillas, but our store also carries the same brand, specified for tamales. When I try to find out what they do, I”mm told one is intended for tortillas and one is best for tamales… and since I’m not (primarily) making either tortillas or tamales, this doesn’t help me much.
So now I’m working my way through five pounds of tamale flour… and since it is a small percentage of my corn muffin mix, this is going to take a while… (Guess I’d better learn how to make tamales… Actually, in general, I think I need to learn how to make Mexican food. The real stuff, I mean, not just American style tacos, however nice they are. Here is a whole delicious cuisine based on a grain I can eat, and beans I want to eat.) So far I’ve learned that it absorbs more moisture and is a bit heavier… and I’m not going to try using it in American style bread.
Then there’s the millet flour I found from an Indian company (It was cheaper…) It’s a stronger flavor, and also absorbs much more moisture than the lighter flour I’ve been using in baking. I’ve used it in my own cooking, but won’t use it for recipe development… since I don’t think most Americans would have a convenient source.
And finally – buckwheat. I knew about toasted buckwheat flour, which is the default in my mind (and what I used for Buckwheat Pancakes.) I had read gluten free bakers rhapsodize on the joys of baking with raw buckwheat flour, but they all said you had to grind your own… So imagine my delight a year ago, when I opened a bag of Buckwheat Flour and it was a light color! Raw indeed, and I used it in Strawberry muffins (and indeed all summer in fruit muffins) and it was lovely. And imagine my shock when I opened another bag also just labeled Buckwheat Flour – and it was speckled… what? So it seems that sometimes raw buckwheat is ground with the hulls. Everything I’d had before was without them (which is still considered whole grain, as these are in fact hulls, not just bran…) So I tried it, and again – it absorbs more moisture and… are you seeing a pattern here? (All varieties are simply labeled Buckwheat Flour. No wonder the more experienced bakers recommend grinding your own in a coffee mill – I can see that I’ll have to go there…)
So anyhow, between one thing and another, I have nearly ten pounds of miscellaneous flour that I’m not going to use in recipe development for the blog. And I can’t buy more flour until I clear this – there just isn’t room on the shelves! Now, I do have some of the standards – actual toasted buckwheat, for instance… and light millet flour, and of course brown rice and sorghum and corn… But I think this is time to just pause, and bake for us, and learn more of the variables of flour and gluten free baking, and all that. And get used to the feel of batter and dough in my hands, again.
All this brings us (yes, there is a reason for the babble) to my pancakes… I have also been reminded of the buckwheat pancake experiment, which had been put on hold. Why don’t I just… make pancakes? Adding “enough” flour, and not worrying (for now) about measurement? Get used to making pancakes on a regular basis?
Because apparently I need the practice. It’s hard to tell from that picture, but those are four too-thin, slightly burned pancakes under my eggs, there… And yes, they use buckwheat flour to make crepes in Brittany. (I wonder what kind of buckwheat flour? Who do I know in Brittany?? Or at least, France?) But these weren’t supposed to be crepes, so I added flour – and you don’t see Rich’s half inch thick Slab of Pancake… OK, so this needs work.
Soup doesn’t. I can make soup. OK, so lentil soup works better when you have more than half a cup of lentils on hand… but there were onions and carrots, and broth, and while it wasn’t the best I’d made it wasn’t bad, either… Accompanied with rice cakes and peanut butter, and I let Rich talk me into trying the sunflower seeds he likes so much sprinkled on them. Meh – he can have them…
For a fast dinner, I cut up two pork chops, sauteed them until done, stirred in frozen spinach and cooked rice, heated everything and called it dinner. Sometimes even I don’t experiment – I just want a meal…
You’re all an international group… Can anyone tell me more about any of these flours? Is Masa Harina Tamal good for arepas as well, or do I really need masarepa? (No, Arepas are not Mexican, I think… but Venezuelan – but they are another form of bread made with corn, and worth pursuing.) What else can I make with it? What is millet flour used for in India? (I have recipes for wheat flour, and rice flour, and gram flour…) What does a Breton cook mean when she says Buckwheat Flour? (Toasted? Raw? Ground with or without hulls?) What kind of flour have I managed to avoid? Do you all just think I’m nuts? (Nut flours… I have ground almonds…)