plain flour

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Also Known as
Maida, all purpose flour

Description All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat; it may be bleached or unbleached. It is usually translated as "plain flour." Flour that is bleached naturally as it ages is labeled "unbleached," while chemically treated flour is labeled "bleached." Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached is best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. Use unbleached flour for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, cream puffs and popovers. Maida is sometimes referred to as "all-purpose flour." Foods made of maida are not considered to be particularly healthy. Still, during festive days, especially in south India, maida is a common ingredient. Maida Flour is nothing but highly refined wheat flour.

How to Select
Choose from the flour available from the grocery store. Buy a well packed flour, pure white in colour and smooth and powdery in texture. Avoid pale yellow coloured flour. Flour is sometimes labeled pre-sifted. This means that the flour was sifted before packaging but it compacts during shipping and handling and therefore is no longer sifted by the time you get it home.

Culinary Uses
· It is the main component of our everyday breakfast - White Breads. The greatest portion of all-purpose is used to make breads of different varieties in taste and texture. In India, maida is used to make pastries and other bakery items like bread, biscuit, toast etc.
· When used in baking, flour contributes body and structure, texture and flavor to baked goods.
· When used in baking it binds the ingredients together and supports the batter
· Flour is often used as a coating for foods that are fried. Flour-coated food develops a crisp, flavorful crust, and an interior that is tender and juicy.
· It is also used for a range of products from thickening sauces to baking breads, cakes, pizzas and a whole range of flour based Indian and international sweets.
· Shape the dough into a log, wrap it in a wax paper and use it to make various snacks item such as naan, puri, paratha, chappathi.
· It can also be used to thicken sauces, creams and pie fillings.
· Recipes calling for dusting cake pans or counters with flour help prevent batters and bread dough from sticking to surfaces.
· Flour can also be used to coat fruits and nuts before adding to batters, thus preventing them from sinking to the bottom of the pan when baked.

How to Store
Flour is best kept in a cool, dry, dark place in a food quality container that allows the flour to breath. Air-tight containers should be avoided. Warm, damp conditions cake and pack flour and provide the right environment for insects to hatch and micro-organisms to flourish. Flour readily absorbs odours and moisture and care should be taken to ensure flour products are stored away from onions and other goods with strong odours. It will stay upto 8 months if properly stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and for refrigerator storage, up to one year Throw away flour if it smells bad, changes color, or is invested with weevils. Put a bay leaf in the flour canister to help protect against insect infections. Bay leaves are natural insect repellents.

Health Benefits
· Foods made out of maida are not considered to be healthy and whole wheat based foods are more preferred nowadays.
· In Refined carbohydrates like maida (flour), polished rice, semolina etc have a high glycerin index.

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