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Flour; Wheat

The finely ground grains of cereals, root vegetables and pulses.

When buying flour, the main thing you need to be aware of is the difference between soft and strong flours - the latter contain a higher level of protein, or gluten, the substance that helps bread to rise.

For biscuits, cakes and pastry - when the primary aim is to keep them light and airy - a soft plain or self-raising flour is best.

For bread and pasta, you need elasticity, which you develop kneading the dough, and for that you need a strong flour.

When using flour as a thickener for sauces, it"s important to cook it thoroughly - or its raw flavour will come through. Five to ten minutes is sufficient, after thickening has taken place. See 'Flour, White'; 'Flour, Wholemeal'; 'Flour, Storing'; 'Flour, Strong'; 'Flour, Tipo 00'. For the best suppliers see our Mail Order Section

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