Freezing Flour…
Posted: 10 May 2008 11:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Dear Rose,

First of all, thank you for such a wonderful site and the opportunity to ‘meet’ you from afar. You have already been so kind with my questions last year on cake strips and flour types/substitutes for Australia and I thank you.

My question today is about flour again…. (hehe maybe I’m slightly obsessed!)

As with many others I’m indebted to Kate of KateFlour fame as the results it yields here on TCB recipes is excellent…..but prior to the KateFlour discovery I’ve always wondered why I seem to have a little less of a problem with TCB results using “00” or the new cake and pastry unbleached flour than others seem to here in Aus…

and then the other night (at about 3am….when I sat bolt upright in bed LOL ) I realised that perhaps it was because I routinely freeze all flour for at least 48 hours prior to placing it in my flour containers.

Why? Well, I’ve always done it,  as my grandmother told me that it would kill any pantry moth or weevils (sorry to bring such an unattractive mental image of these pests to a baking site!). So, like a dutiful grand-daughter, in homage, I’ve always done it!!!  I’m not sure if it does anything or not but I’ve never had problems with these pesky pests and am now too ‘baking superstitious’ (or barking mad some may say tongue rolleye ) not to do it!

I’m interested in your scientific/experienced opinion on whether this freezing could/would change the nature and behaviour of the flour?

From reading Kate’s detailed blog it appears that the heat treatment process to KateFlour denatures the flour (reduces moisture content?) so that it behaves similar to bleached flour… but conversely I would assume that by freezing the flour I’m actually retaining moisture… or am I as freezing can also dry foods….???

Your thoughts (and everyone elses!) would be greatly appreciated.

Warm regards,
Cate


P.S. It’s Mothers Day here today and my husband and 2 year old just made the Buttermilk Blueberry pancakes from TCB for me…. the kitchen looks like a demolition site but ohhhhh… the fabulous and tasty result (and the pure proud excitement of my little boy when he gave them to me) was priceless! Thank you for such a wonderful gift!

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Posted: 10 May 2008 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Cate, I freeze my flour all the time - have never noticed any problems with it.  I believe in the case of some flours, like whole wheat, freezing is encouraged to keep the flour from going rancid.  Did you do a search on the blog?  I think I remember some discussion there on the subject.

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Posted: 11 May 2008 12:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Patrincia,

Yes, I did a search on freezing flour but couldn’t see anything, maybe I used the wrong key words…

My musing was mainly that we have unbleached flour here and yet (unlike others in Aus/NZ/UK) I have have little deviation from the results in TCB, even before KateFlour came along, that maybe my freezing the unbleached flour had an unintended (but positive) effect on my results?

Warm regards,
Cate

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Posted: 13 May 2008 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I keep my cake flour, when unopened at room temperature.  Cake flour comes in a box, but inside a pretty strong plastic bag which my bugs haven’t figure out how to eat yet.  Once I open the bag, I place it in a cold 32oF refrigerator, airtight or vacuum sealed; sometimes it sits at room temp for a few days when I am baking daily.

It is important for me, whenever I take flour out of the refrigerator (or freezer), to wait until it has reached room temperature before I open the bag.  This prevents condensation to rush in.

I think cake flour and pastry flour (or AP bleached flour that you will use for pastry, cookies, or pasta) will last in the refrigerator for a very long time, years.  But flour used for bread baking won’t, the flour will last but it will loose strength and structure so critical for bread baking.

My flour for bread baking sits airtight at room temperature.  I just can’t find room to store it all in my refrigerator or freezer, and I finish the 50lb bag pretty quickly, within a month or two!

Regarding whole wheat flour.  I really need to use mine’s up quickly.  It is stored either frozen or refrigerated.  After I’ve used it up, I will grind my own whole wheat flour.

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Posted: 14 May 2008 02:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks Hector and Patrincia - I appreciate your time and feedback!!!


My apologies but I think maybe my original post was too wordy, I’ll try and be succinct:

My main query is this:

I have UNbleached flour here in Australia….but
I have not had as much of the same problems others have with Unbleached flour affecting the results of TCB recipes.
I was wondering why and thought maybe it’s because I routinely freeze the flour before use.
Does anyone know if freezing flour affects it chemically ?

Warm regards,
Cate

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Posted: 14 May 2008 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Cate, more than chemically, I think it is physics.

Water expands when frozen.  Cell walls of plants have cellulose, which isn’t flexible.  When frozen, the water contained in each cell bursts the cell walls.  This is why when you freeze crisp vegetables, when thawed they are soft.  Something similar happens to flour when frozen, although not very obvious since the water content in flour is low.  Flour is plant.  I assume that this is a similar effect to bleaching or heat treating flour, the point of cake flour is to make it more ready to absorb liquid.

Cell walls of animals don’t have cellulose, and are flexible.  When frozen, the water contained in each cell will expand and stretch the cell walls, mostly not bursting them.  This is why the texture of frozen meat, for example, is almost the same fresh than thawed.

Try post something in the blog under Kate’s Flour (spinning flour into gold), Kate will be very happy to read how freezing flour compared to heat treating flour.

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Posted: 14 May 2008 09:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks for the feedback here and on the boards Hector.

I really should be as diligent as Kate and to do a side by side comparison between Kate (heated) and Cate (frozen, thawed) flour on the same recipe and post pics…. might be a awhile though as my little one is keeping me very busy at the moment!

Oh and FYI to anyone wanting to try freezing unbleached flour in Australia: I use the Anchor Cake, Biscuit and Pastry Flour (prior to it being available I used Anchor Plain Flour) and freeze for at least 48 hours before I decant into my flour canister.

And…as Hector mentions on the forum remember to wait until the flour reaches room temperature again before you use it smile

P.S. Even though I haven’t done a side by side comparision, I still find Kate-Flour’s method of heating the flour gives a slightly better texture but when time is short my frozen flour gives an acceptable (if not fully Rose-worthy!!) result.

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Posted: 15 May 2008 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I have been following Kate’s experiments from the beginning, in fact we are in touch with each other and I have done some experimenting myself with various flours we have available here in the UK.  It can be quite a messy business and it takes time and the results are variable and I must admit I am not as keen or as interested as Kate is to use this method regularly.  If I thought freezing the flour would have similar results I would certainly favour that method as it seems so trouble free. (Lazy me!)What I would love is to be able to make a cake with the flour specified in the Bible and see what the difference is in the resulting cake.  In August my daughter is on holiday in the States and I have requested she bring me backsome cake flour, she’s a bit scared of being arrested at the airport though so I will have to wait and see!!!Next time I am in the mood perhaps I will do a side by side comparison ,Cate, and see if I can discern any differences in results between frozen and microwaved flour!  By the way, in support of Kate, I know she is a very busy young mum too, she has three little ones so her time is limited also.

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Posted: 15 May 2008 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks for the info Jeannette. Wow - I think Kate’s even more amazing doing all this testing with three littles ones in tow! It certainly is messy but her results are great.

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