WHAT IS FLOUR AND HOW SHOULD YOU COOK WITH IT?…

Flour is made by grinding grains, legumes, nuts, or seeds into a fine powder. When these substances are ground into coarse powders, the result is referred to as “meal” rather than “flour.”

When most people think of flour, they’re thinking of wheat flour, which clearly is off-limits on a gluten-free diet. In fact, flours made from wheat, barley, or rye contain gluten and will make those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity

Fortunately, there are a ton of other options and it’s getting easier and easier to find a variety of alternative flours. You can find them in the natural foods section of the supermarket and often in the same section as regular flour as well as online.

With gluten-free cooking and baking, it helps to know what gluten does before you try to work without it.

  • Gluten makes dough “doughy.” As soon as glutenin and gliadin are surrounded by water, the gluten molecules develop and begin to form strong, sticky, elastic bonds. These elastic bonds give the dough its stretchy qualities. Have you ever seen pizza being made? The bakers toss the pizza dough up in the air with a circular motion to stretch it. That stretchy dough has a lot of gluten in it.
  • Gluten helps the dough rise. The amount of water that’s added to the flour affects gluten development, with more water resulting in a chewier dough. The amount of mixing or kneading is the second factor. Kneading helps the bonded gluten molecules form into long elastic strands or sheets. That’s why dough can rise when yeast has been added. The yeast gives off gas, the gas is trapped by the sheets of gluten molecules, and the dough rises.
  • Different purposes call for different flours. Different types of wheat flours have different amounts of gluten development. Bread flour develops a lot of gluten, while cake flour is relatively low in gluten because cakes should be less chewy than pizzas and bread. Cake flour still has enough gluten to keep baked goods from crumbling. In contrast, pie crusts—which should be tender and flaky—have less gluten than bread or cakes. Instead, pie crust doughs have a lot of shortening and only a small amount of liquid, and they are mixed only enough to combine the ingredients.

Since gluten plays so many roles in baking, you’ll need to use different types of gluten-free flour to achieve the best results in different recipes. Gluten-free flours break down into four general categories:

  • gluten-free starches
  • neutral-tasting, low-protein flours
  • strong-tasting low-protein flours
  • high-protein flours

Each type of flour has a place in your gluten-free baking repertoire.

Grains contain both starch and protein (gluten is, of course, a protein). When you separate out the protein component of grain, you’re left with the starch. Gluten-free starches in common use in baking include:

  • Cornstarch
  • Tapioca starch
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Potato starch

These starches don’t have much taste; instead, their job is to thicken liquids and to add some bulk and texture to baked goods. You can use starch to make gravy or to thicken soups. In fact, many recipes call for cornstarch to make gravy, rather than wheat flour. However, you can’t use only starch in baked goods, or they’ll fall apart.

Note that you can substitute any of the four starches for another type of starch. They mostly behave the same in cooking.

When working with starch, beware of the lumps that tend to form when you heat it. To avoid a gooey mess, mix the starch and your liquid in a measuring cup first and then add them to a heating pan. In addition, if you find your gravy or soup is too thick once it has cooled, try heating it again to thin it out.

Note that gravy thickened with cornstarch or another starch will be clearer and less “creamy”-looking than gravy thickened with wheat flour.

Source: Very Well Fit

AFTERNOON TEA WEEK 9th-15th AUGUST 2021…

Afternoon Tea Week this year takes place from the 9th-15th August. Afternoon Tea Week celebrates the great British tradition of Afternoon Tea and is the perfect excuse to catch up with loved ones over a cup of tea and some delicacies.

Venues across the UK will run a selection of exclusive discounts and exciting events to pay tribute to the nation’s favourite pastime. #AfternoonTeaWeek

If you head down to the Afternoon Tea website you will find offers from all over the UK.

The History of Afternoon Tea Week –

Afternoon Tea Week was established to help secure a tradition that has graced British afternoons since the 1840’s. In those days, dinner often wasn’t served until 8pm. Since a full lunch wasn’t actually a thing, what was a hungry person to do in the hours of the afternoon? Create a new mini-meal in the middle of the day of course! 

Even though it is called “tea”, there is far more than just a beverage being served in the afternoon! Traditionally this light meal contains tiny finger sandwiches, as well as scones with jam and clotted cream. Plus, this time is also likely to reveal sweet dainties such as cakes and pastries to help lift the spirits, bolster energy, and see people through the rest of the day.

After a while, what started out as a simple afternoon meal grew into a social event, especially for those who spent their lives in the upper echelons of the day’s society. This became even more prominent once Queen Victoria herself took part in this tradition. At that point the concept of the ‘tea reception’ was born. This type of event included lavish and fancy afternoon repasts that could host anywhere from a close collection of friends to a couple hundred of society’s most important faces.

As the name suggests, drinking hot tea was a very important part of this meal, which was a tradition started by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. She often found herself feeling weary or worn down in the middle of the day, and a pot of tea with a snack just seemed to be the best way to take care of it. She soon invited friends to join her for walks in the field, and thus began the tradition that would eventually turn into Afternoon Tea.

The tradition continues and it is time, once again, to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week!

Britain Magazine wrote that from 10 to 16 August, tea rooms, restaurants and even a Routemaster bus will be holding exclusive events and discounts up and down the country in celebration of the great heritage of afternoon tea in the UK.

This year will see the first Afternoon Tea Week pop-up venue in London, which will host a range of unique events including celebrity hosted afternoon teas, a children’s tea party, demonstrations from leading pastry chefs, tea tastings and talks about the history and etiquette of afternoon tea.

Among the many events to look forward to are the Bakewell Baking Festival at Bakewell Showground on Derbyshire; an After Dark Afternoon Tea in the Cigar Room at The May Fair hotel in London that promises to like no other; a Literary Afternoon Tea with Rosie Millard at the Conrad London St James; the UK’s most renowned artisan chocolatier paul.a.young fine chocolates will be offering the Afternoon Tea Week Collection, a specially curated selection of afternoon tea favourites reimagined; and The Ritz London will be launching a new Chocolate and Salted Caramel Fudge cake during the week.

With even more to be announced, find out what’s happening in your area and plan your week and book online for events at afternoonteaweek.com