Post # 2 Flour Can Be A Little Scary

June 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Posted in Basics | Comments Off on Post # 2 Flour Can Be A Little Scary

When I look at a bag of flour, I mentally calculate how much stuff I can get out of it.  Can I get six loaves of bread?  How about four cakes and a few dozen biscuits and two batches of cookies?  Is there enough to get me through the week with all the baking I plan to do?  A very good friend of mine looks at a bag of flour and wonders, “How the hell did that get in my kitchen?”

Flour can be a little intimidating.  It can also be quite explosive.  It has the potential to make some of the best stuff on earth when handled correctly, and some of the worst stuff on earth when handled badly.  The things a cook can do with flour are as varied as the cooks themselves.

The first thing I ever did with flour was make a cake.  It was my first cooking lesson and Mom had handed me her cookbook and told me to find a recipe that I wanted to make.  I chose cake cuz I love cake!  After making certain I had all the ingredients, Mom showed me what to do and left me alone.  It turned out like pound cake.  I’d added too much flour.  But even though I’d goofed up, the cake still came out good and chocolate frosting on anything is great thing.

I once saw a lady put flour in a dry skillet over a medium heat.  She didn’t add any butter or oil or meat dripping.  Just a cup of flour in the skillet and a wooden spoon to move it around.  She left it there, stirring it up for several minutes and the white flour turned a dark toasty brown.  Then she added milk, constantly stirring until the whole thing was thick and glossy and bubbly.  She added a little salt and pepper, and served a wonderful brown gravy over mashed potatoes.  The thing that impressed me most was the phenomenal brown color of the gravy that had been created out of the two whitest substances on the planet!

It’s all in how you treat the ingredients.

I make gravy out of flour in many ways.  Sometimes I toss meat in a flour and spice mixture, brown the meat, then add water, wine, or stock and let the natural cooking process thicken the stock into a smooth gravy.  Another way, I create a slurry, a smooth mixture of flour and water (or some other liquid) and add to the pan juices which then cooks and becomes thick and tasty.  My favorite way is to create a roux (roo) from melted butter to which I add an equal amount of flour.  It becomes a paste which gets cooked for a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour flavor and add some color.  The hot liquid is added to smooth it out and allow it to cook into a flavorful sauce or gravy.  Add seasoning and spices to taste.  The key to all of this is stirring, incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry.  Keep it moving until it’s cooked and done, and no lumps will appear.


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