At 2 p.m. today, it suddenly dawned on Carl and I that tomorrow is the Fourth of July and we had no food plans.
But, having hankered after fried chicken for two weeks, the main course was a given. I pulled out two recipes: the fabulous buttermilk fried chicken from friend and amazing cook, Ann, and a "classic" fried chicken recipe from a magazine. In the meantime, Carl decided he wanted homemade bread. Shortly thereafter, we also stumbled across a recipe for root beer cake, which we had to try.
As we looked over the recipes, we an essential ingredient we were missing: flour.
And, not just flour, but three different kinds: all-purpose (root beer cake), bread (traditional white bread) and self-rising (fried chicken).
Now, it just so happens that several months ago, we ended up buying cake flour for a now-forgotten recipe, poured it into our big container and forgot to label it. The next time Carl made pie crust, it was dense and crumbly, without the long, thin flakiness for which pie crust is known. It was a lesson in the differences between cake flour and all-purpose flour, for which most pie crust recipes call.
So, today when we realized all of the recipes called for different types of flour, we knew we needed to actually follow those directions.
Each flour is ideal in certain situations. The New Food Lover's Companion denotes the distinct makeup and characteristics of each kind of flour: all-purpose flour is a blend of high gluten hard wheat and low gluten soft wheat blend; bread flour, in addition to a higher gluten content, also contains malted barley flour to increase yeast activity and vitamin C to increase gluten elasticity and the dough's gas retention; cake flour has a softer texture and lower gluten, but with a high starch content; self-rising flour is all-purpose flour with salt and baking powder added.
While using the wrong flour won't, in general, completely ruin your dish, as Carl's cake flour-pie crust showed, the recipes do not turn out exactly the way you would wish. The cake flour is labeled now.
The results from our Fourth of July meal brainstorming are three new bags of flour, one loaf of homemade bread, and this:
|Root beer cake|
Today's lesson: When you don't have a cake plate, a large turkey roaster works perfectly well.
Find the recipe for root beer cake here.
Happy Fourth of July!