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“Carefully managed starters can last indefinitely, but keeping up with one is a good bit of work. Kinda like having a pet that you raise and feed and take care of and then…bake and eat.”

— Alton Brown

Flour

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Flour is grain that has been ground, or milled, into a powder of a desired consistency.  In the United States, flour is usually ground wheat, however, it may be almost any grain ground into a light powder.

The most commonly used grains include wheat, rye, barley, rice, spelt (a primitive wheat), kamut (another primitive wheat), and oats. Wheat is the most commonly used bread flour at this time because it provides the best rise due of the quantity and type of gluten in the grain.

If someone specifies "flour" in a recipe, without other qualifications, this is usually a white wheat flour. However, this has tremendous variation from one part of the United States to another, and even wider variation from one country to another.

French and Italian breads are usually made with flours that have between 7 and 9% protein. Most all purpose flours in the United States have around 10% protein. And bread flours have around 14%. As a result, experimentation with a recipe may be necessary to get the results you want.

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