Gourmet cookies should have exceptionally high quality. Their tender texture is an important attribute, created by a joined effort of two essential ingredients. Flour is one of them.
Wheat flour performs well when it is properly aged. The naturally ideal but time consuming method is exposing it to air for several weeks after milling. This serves two purposes:
- Removing the yellow pigment (carotenoid) that is present in freshly milled flour.
- Giving flour sufficient time to improve its baking quality.
Nowadays, millers can chemically whiten flour in just a couple of days by adding benzoyl peroxide to it. They also use chemical maturing agents such as ADA (azodicarbonamide).
Cake flour is usually treated with chlorine gas which performs as both bleaching and maturing agents. Bleached flour has less spreading ability than unbleached one.
Following standards established by the Food and Drug Administration, millers in the United States supplement flour with vitamins and minerals. These include thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and iron, with calcium being optional.
Cookies made with bleached flour are tender, whereas unbleached flour tends to yield crispier cookies. However, many easy cookie recipes you find on this Web site call for unbleached all purpose flour for better color and spread.
Not everyone can have wheat flour in their diet. People with autism, for instance, are very sensitive to gluten. Fortunately, there are gluten free flours with which we can use to bake gourmet cookies. Here are a few varieties.
These nut flours are susceptible to rancidity because of their high fat content. They are best kept under refrigeration.
Although oats are not completely gluten free, they are full of soluble fibers, low in fat, an excellent source of proteins and vitamins. Soluble fibers lower cholesterol level that, in turn, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Rolled and old fashioned oats are steamed and flattened into flakes. Quick cooking oats are also steamed and flattened, but are smaller in size. As a result, they can absorb moisture better than either rolled or old fashioned oats.
Rolled, old fashioned, and quick cooking oats can be used interchangeably in making gourmet cookies unless recipes indicate otherwise.
Instant oats, on the other hand, are precooked and dried, and should be avoided. They are not a preferred ingredient in many contemporary cookie recipes.
From time to time, you will notice that a cookie recipe calls for rice flour. This is a very soft, powdery flour that has a bland flavor. It is incapable of building structure, but works well with other flours such as soy so that baked goods don’t have a strong grainy texture.
White rice flour is milled from polished rice, and brown rice flour from unpolished. The latter contains the bran, it has more nutrients, a nutty taste, and a shorter shelf life.
The recommended substitution ratio is 7/8 cup of rice flour for each cup of wheat flour.
FIGONI, P. 2004. How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey