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Flour: A cornerstone of boulangerie

Wheat, rice, corn, the range of flours is as extensive as the number of cereals grown. Flour is the cornerstone of boulangerie and its quality essential for making successful bread, viennoiseries (Danish pastries), pasta, etc. Let’s take a closer look at this ingredient whose properties vary depending on the type of cereals used.

Flour: Definition

Flour comes from the Latin word farina, which is derived from far, farris, “wheat, spelt”. It is made by milling the grains of wheat or other cereals such as rye, corn or rice. Chestnut and chick pea flour also exist. In France, the most commonly used flour is wheat flour, which is made from common wheat.

Different types of flour

Flour contains different types of vitamins depending on the cereal used, notably vitamins B1, B2, PP and E. They also contain minerals which are found in the husks of the cereal.

There are a number of types of wheat flour. In France, they are graded by number according to the type (e.g.: T55, T65), most commonly used in boulangerie.

Gluten content

Gluten (protein present in the cereal) gives the dough its elasticity. Most wheat flours have high gluten content but others have a much lower content (e.g.: Rye flour). The latter are classified as not suitable for bread making, which means that they cannot be used alone for making bread.

Chef Boudot’s suggestions for a change from wheat flour

When making bread, Le Cordon Bleu Boulangerie Diploma Chef Instructor, Chef Boudot, enjoys using rye, buckwheat, barley, corn, spelt, hard wheat semolina and chestnut flour.

His tip for getting the perfect crust: When dusting with flour, Chef Boudot combines hard wheat semolina and flour.

The Apple

Apples (Malus domestica), from the rosaceous family (Rosaceae), are a fruit with pips which are enjoyed the world over, especially in Europe and North America.

Originating in Asia, apples spread throughout Europe thanks mainly to those coming from the Caucasus and Altai Mountains. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, numerous varieties appeared due to cross breeding.

Apples are one of the most cultivated fruits in the world. Harvest depends on the variety but usually begins at the start of summer and ends at the end of autumn – and from autumn until the beginning of winter for wild varieties. As apples are grown in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, they are available year round.

Depending on the variety, apples come in different shapes and colors (two-colored, white, grey, golden yellow, red or green). Their taste varies greatly in terms of flavor, juiciness, tartness and crispness, depending on when they have been harvested and how they have been stored. Today, there are more than 20 000 apple varieties in the world; some are used in Cuisine and Pastry recipes whereas others are preferred in their natural state as a dessert.

The reference in terms of eating apples is the excellent sweet fleshed Red Delicious. Other varieties are also greatly appreciated such as Golden Delicious, Cortland, James Grieve, Starking, Sturmer Pippin, Cox’s Orange Pippin, McIntosh, Blenheim Orange, Belle de Boskoop, Reine des Reinettes, Jonathan, Rome, Russet, Gala, Stayman, Reinette Franche and Winesap.

Cuisine and Pastry Chefs mainly use Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Calville, Grenadier, Bramley and Gravenstein. Apples can be more or less ripe and firm depending on the culinary technique employed; poached, sautéed, cooked or pureed.

Numerous pastries include apples, notably the famous strudel, and apple pie, and they are often an integral part of donuts, charlottes, puddings, turnovers, tarts and many others. Apples are also used in distilleries to make brandy (eau-de-vie), such as the famous Normandy Calvados (AOC), and for making cider and apple juice.

Apples also have medicinal properties. Rich in minerals, fibers, carbohydrates and vitamins, they are extremely nutritious. Let’s not forget the famous saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Click here to see Le Cordon Bleu Chefs’ apple recipes: