S is for Self-Rising Flour
Those who’ve been with me from the beginning remember we started with A is for All-Purpose Flour. So I had to do Self-Rising Flour, for contrast, right?
First, how they are alike: Both are wheat flours.
Differences are in the structure of the flours and with additives. Be careful when buying self-rising flour because many brands have substantially less protein than all-purpose flour. In fact, many of the self-rising flour brands are closer to cake flour than all-purpose flour (protein-wise).
I suggest strongly that you NEVER buy self-rising flour. It is way too easy to make your own. Besides, why buy a bag of self-rising flour that can go stale when all you need is a cup of flour for that recipe. I’ll share my recipe at the bottom. Or find one on the Internet. They’re easily come by and surprisingly different in the amounts of added ingredients.
As its name implies, self-rising flour is boosted flour. It is flour with salt and baking powder added. That’s it! Now why would you pay extra for THAT? I don’t know why people even use self-rising flour; the time saved is miniscule.
And obviously (or is it obvious to all?), if using self-rising flour in place of all-purpose flour, omit the salt and baking powder from the recipe.
S is for Sweat
What’s with all the polysemous words in this A to Z Challenge series? I’ve already done nap and rest; today is sweat! And, no, this has nothing to do with your kitchen temperature nor your anxiety level while cooking.
When we sweat foods, we are pre-cooking them. Not pre-cooking as in parboil (an earlier term). Sweating doesn’t get them to that stage. Sweating is a cousin of sauté, but sautés are done at higher heat. The purpose of a sauté is to cook to the stage of ready-to-eat (think stir fry).
The term sweat is a pretty interesting one, don’t you think? You might see it called butter steam in some recipes. Foods when heated slowly with a small amount of fat, at a medium-low heat, emit water droplets on the surface just like your skin does. A sweat is a step cooks take prior to cooking food longer in a recipe.
Why sweat foods? Sweating enhances the flavors of foods as a way to build flavor layers in your recipe. The foods we sweat are the aromatics (garlic, shallots, green onions, onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, and more) that have strong cell walls. Sweating breaks down the cell walls when they lose moisture so the flavor can come out more in the rest of the cooking process. But be careful when sweating. Don’t brown the food or you have gone past the sweat.
Self-Rising Flour (makes 1 cup)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Sift all ingredients together. Make a quantity (if you use it often) and store in an airtight container.