Grinding stones from Italy, Russian and the Czech Republic have been found embedded with starch grains, suggesting that 30,000 years ago people processed roots from cattails and ferns into flour. The find pushes back the first use of flour by 10,000 years.
(Archaeology magazine Jan-Feb/2011)
• “Bleached” refers to flour that has been bleached chemically to whiten or improve the baking qualities. No change occurs in the nutritional value of the flour and no harmful chemical residues remain. It is a process which speeds up the natural lightening and maturing of flour.
• “Unbleached” flour is aged and bleached naturally by oxygen in the air. It is more golden in color, generally more expensive and may not have the consistency in baking qualities that bleached flour does. Unbleached is preferred for yeast breads because bleaching affects gluten strength.
Wheat Foods Council www.wheatfoods.org
Generally speaking, flour made from hard winter wheat contains 13% to 15% protein (gluten).
Flour made from wheat grown in the hot months of summer is soft wheat with only 4% to 9% gluten.
Bread flour is made from hard wheat which produces dough that is elastic and can expand well.
Cake and pastry flour is made with fine textured soft wheat, producing tender dough with little stretch for products needing a crumbly texture.
All purpose flour is a mixture of the two types, with about 11-12% gluten.
Pillsbury began its annual 'Bake-off' in 1950 to promote it's flour.
Flour is made by grinding and sifting grains (or other foodstuffs), especially wheat. Some other grains that are ground into flour are rye, buckwheat, barley, corn and rice. Other foodstuffs that are used to make flour are potatoes, acorns, mesquite, cassava, soybeans, amaranth and bananas.