One interesting thing to know about all-purpose flour:
Did you know that it's bred especially to be all things to all recipes, equally amenable to breads and cookies and coatings and dumplings? All-purpose flour has a medium protein content of 9-12 percent, compared to whole-wheat (14 percent), or cake flour (5-8 percent). I always use unbleached all-purpose flour, because I think it tastes better. Bleaching makes the flour whiter in color -- a strong preference of bakers in the southern United States -- but I'd rather have good taste than bright muffins.
Cooking or baking?
Baking, of course, but flour is also fundamental to the perfect roux, tempura, and the base coating for breaded chicken breasts (flour, egg, crumb).
After you've opened the bag, store the remaining flour in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Moisture and moths are the enemies of healthy flour. You can also store flour in the freezer, an especially good idea if you live in a humid climate.
When I get the urge to bake (not very often, as you know), I like to use what's in my pantry. This recipe, adapted from eHow.com, came together in minutes, and I had all of the ingredients on hand. Granola muffins are perfect for brunch, with yogurt and fruit, or with afternoon tea. Like many muffins, these are best eaten on the day they're made. Makes 8 large muffin tops, or 10-12 regular muffins.
2 cups granola
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup + 1 tsp skim milk
1/3 cup cooled, melted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare one or two muffin top pans (6 muffin tops per pan) or regular muffin tin (12 muffin cups) with paper liners.
In a large bowl, stir together the granola, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup, stir together the milk, butter and egg. Pour the mixture into the granola mixture, and stir just enough to combine (do not overmix).
Use an ice cream scoop with a release (called a disher), if you have one, or a large spoon to fill the muffin cups approximately 2/3 full. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and allow to cool completely on a rack.
Other recipes that use all-purpose flour:
Apple crumb cake, from Just Hungry
Creamy pumpkin cheesecake with ginger-pecan crust, from Alpineberry
Chocolate-cherry bread, from Cook's Hideout
Chicken and dumplings, from Simply Recipes
Blueberry zucchini bread, from My Baking Addiction
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