We just love baking! Whether we’re making our own pizza crusts from scratch, or baking some delicious cakes on a rainy Sunday afternoon, for us baking is a form of therapy as well as a way to produce delicious food!
An essential building block when baking is the type of flour you use. Today we’ll take a look at occident flour and explain what exactly it is and how you should use it.
What is Occident Flour?
Occident flour is also commonly known as all-purpose flour. This is because it is exceptionally versatile and can be used to make almost any baked goods.
All-purpose flour is made by blending hard wheat, which is high in gluten, and soft wheat, which has a low gluten content. The flour is milled, creating a fine powder. The powder is then refined and bleached which gives the flour its white color.
The amount of gluten contained within all-purpose flour ranges from 7.5-12%. The most commonly sold brands in the US average around 11-12% gluten. The blending of hard and soft wheat is a very deliberate choice to compromise between high and low gluten to create a final product that is suitable for all purposes – which shouldn’t be surprising given the name!
What is Occident Flour Used for?
We’ve already touched on the fact that occident flour is extremely adaptable and can be used in pretty much any recipe that calls for the use of flour. However like everything there are some applications that it is more suited to than others.
All-purpose flour is great for baking coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, croissants, cookies, pies, dinner rolls and all manner of sweet treats. Occident flour is also really handy for preparing savory foods and can be used to make pasta and noodles, tortillas, pretzels, hot dog buns and burger buns. It also serves well as a coating for foods to be fried.
Whilst all-purpose flour is super versatile, some recipes call for specific types of flour such as cake or whole wheat flour. Ideally if a recipe states a certain type of flour, you should use it. However, if all you have to hand is occident flour it can be used in any recipe.
Adjustments when Baking with Occident Flour
If a recipe does specify a certain type of flour and you want to go ahead and use occident, a good rule of thumb is to use one extra tablespoon of flour per cup when making breads. This will increase the amount of gluten that goes into the dough, replicating the affect of using higher-gluten bread flour. On the other hand, if you’re making a dessert that calls for a low-gluten flour, use one less tablespoon per cup to decrease the amount of gluten in the dough.
A quick note to say be careful with self-rising flour. This is identical to all-purpose flour in almost every aspect except the fact that it has had leavening added. Whilst they’re very similar, you should only use self-rising flour where the recipe specifically calls for it. Otherwise you’ll find (as we have, to our dismay!) that your baked goods don’t turn out the way you’d like.
Is Occident Flour the Same as Bread Flour?
Occident and bread flour are not the same. They’re two different products, made in a different way, from different types of wheat and are designed for different uses.
The key difference between the two types of flour is the amount of gluten within each variety. Whilst occident flour is made by combining both hard and soft wheat to give it a medium gluten content, bread flour is intended to have a higher level of gluten and is made from hard wheat only. The reason for this is because the greater amount of gluten interacts with the yeast used in the baking process and helps to create the chewier consistency required for bread. Bread flour typically has a gluten content of 12-14%.
One of the best things about the different types of flour is that the name is usually very descriptive. Therefore it should be no surprise to learn that bread flour is better for use in the baking of complex bread products such as artisanal loaves and buns, baguettes and pizza dough. The higher gluten level also gives bread flour more flavor than occident flour.
The lower gluten levels of all-purpose flour make it a better choice for white bread such as hot dog buns or hamburger buns. You will also usually want to steer clear of using bread flour to make any cakes and pastries, which occident flour is great for.
Differences Bleached vs Unbleached Occident Flour
When shopping for occident flour you’re likely to come across two different types – bleached and unbleached. What is the difference between them, and does it matter? Let’s take a moment to look a bit more closely at each variety of all-purpose flour.
Unbleached occident flour has less treatment applied to it. This means that it retains more of the original structure of the wheat used to make it. The result of this is that it has a slightly more coarse texture and a higher level of gluten than bleached flour.
Because of the higher levels of gluten, unbleached all-purpose flour is a better choice for baking more complex foods with a chewier consistency. For example pizza sough, biscuits, bagels and dinner rolls are better when made with unbleached occident flour.
The bleaching process gives occident flour a finer texture and removes some of the gluten content.
The reduced levels of gluten make bleached occident flour better suited to the baking of sweet goods than its unbleached counterpart. Cakes, cookies and pastries are examples of foods that will come out better when made with bleached occident flour.
It’s worth bearing in mind that in reality the difference between bleached and unbleached occident flour is quite small. Whilst it would be great to have both varieties in your kitchen cabinets, you’re absolutely able to use either variety when baking any recipe.
Best Recipes for Occident Flour
Here are some of our favorite baking recipes that make use of occident flour, be sure to give them a try!
White Bread Recipe
This is a simple yet delicious recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
It’s quick to make and produces fantastically fluffy and surprisingly large loaves of white bread. To make this, you just need:
- Instant yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
For quantities and instructions, check out the recipe here.
Pizza Dough Recipe
If you’re a fan of pizza (and seriously, who isn’t?!), you’ll love this recipe for making pizza dough with occident flour.
You will need:
- All-purpose flour
- Active dry yeast
- Vegetable oil
- White sugar
View the full recipe at AllRecipes here.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Want to indulge your sweet tooth? This recipe for making cinnamon swirls from Sally’s Baking Addiction is easy to make and produces a ton of delicious cinnamon bread that can be used for your next dessert.
To make it, you will need:
- Active dry or instant yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Whole milk
- Unsalted butter
- Occident flour (Sally specifies bread flour but all-purpose works great)
- Ground cinnamon
Check out the full recipe here for instructions and full quantities.