It’s hard to imagine a world without flour. There are so many types of it, and it is used in so many different ways; we use flour when making breads, cakes, cookies, pastries…the list goes on and on. But how long have humans been using wheat? And why did they start using it for baking?
When did you start using wheat in baking?
Flour has been used as a staple food for centuries, and the earliest records of flour production date back to 1765 BC in ancient Egypt. Wheat was not always ground into flour; rather, it began as wheat berries that were usually boiled or steamed before being baked to make breads. The Romans are credited with starting milling techniques because they determined that only by grinding could gluten be correctly broken down when baking.
The term “flour”
The term “flour” is thought to come from an old French word flur meaning flower which makes sense considering how delicate these grains look once milled (i.e., turning them into flour). When did you start using wheat in your cooking? Do you know what types of flour are used?
The three most common types of flour are all-purpose, whole wheat and self-rising. All- purpose flour is a blend of high gluten with low protein content to produce soft baked goods like cakes or cookies. Whole wheat flour has the entire grain including the outer bran layer intact which increases its fiber content as well as adding flavor to your food items. Self-rising flour contains a leavening agent (baking powder) so there’s no need for baking soda or salt in your recipes if you use this type of white flour. This means that it can be substituted one for one when making quick breads, scones, muffins or pancakes but not much else! Flour is an essential ingredient in any baker’s pantry and it is common to find flour in any grocery store.
Another advantage of whole grain flour
Another advantage of Whole Grain Flour is the content of vitamins and minerals valuable for health. For example, one serving of 100 g or 3.5 oz. of whole grain wheat flour provides roughly 8% of Iron, 3% Magnesium, and 15% Manganese.
Vitamins and minerals found in whole grain flour include:
– Selenium for stress regulation and cancer prevention
– Thiamine (vitamin B1) which transports oxygen to cells and helps them break down sugars
– Folate (folic acid) which helps with cell division and reduces risk for neural tube defects including spina bifida
– Niacinamide which lowers LDL cholesterol levels and promotes healthy immune function. It also protects cells from damage and helps maintain a healthy nervous system
– Pantothenic acid which is involved in energy metabolism as well as key reactions involving the breakdown of fats, protein, and carbohydrates. It also plays an important role in synthesizing hormones such as adrenal cortisone or cortisol (the stress hormone).