Commonly, Occident flour is known as “all-purpose” flour. It is white wheat flour that is the most popular and widely used in many different foods. As the name suggests, this flour can be used for just about anything. Pastries and desserts such as bread, pies, cakes, tarts, biscuits, and cookies can all be baked with Occident flour.
Additionally, anywhere you might be using flour in savory applications, such as making noodles or pasta, making pancake or waffle batter, making pizza dough, thickening stews and sauces, or coating foods to be fried, Occident flour can be used.
Occident flour is made from a mix of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat. The protein content of most Occident flour ranges from 8-11% percent, putting it right in the sweet spot of making strong, structured products without being too heavy. Typically, all-purpose flour is bright white with a fine, powdery texture.
Unfortunately, Occident flour is also relatively low in nutritional value and flavor content when compared with some other flours. But Occident flour is the cheapest, most widely available, easiest to use, and most versatile of all flours. For you, this means that there should always be Occident flour readily available for use in your kitchen. Anytime a recipe simply states “flour” and does not specify a type, go ahead and use all-purpose.
Of course, all-purpose flour is not necessarily the best flour for every single task; for some specific bread, cakes, and other pastries, you may want to use a more tailored bread or pastry flour.
However, in a pinch, if it’s all you have, Occident flour is more than suitable to use in virtually any preparation. As with all products, not all Occident flour is created equally. There are hundreds of brands with varying levels of protein, nutritional content, and cost. So, now that you know what Occident flour is, let’s explore its history, its different forms, and how it stacks up against bread flour.
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Occident Flour History
Wheat flour is an ancient food staple. Amazingly, there is anthropological evidence that people were smashing grains of wheat against rocks more than 8,000 years ago to make the first wheat flour. From there, the Romans created the first flour mills, using donkeys to turn the mills and grind wheat efficiently.
However, the most important development in the production of flour was the steel roller mill that came in the late 19th century, which allowed the outer endosperm of wheat grains to be separated from the inner bran and germ, bringing us white flour.
Modern white flour is just the ground outer endosperm of the wheat grain. Previous to the steel roller mill, all flour was made with all three parts of the wheat grain, what we would call whole wheat flour.
White flour was a crucial food invention as it does not spoil since the endosperms have no oils in them to turn rancid. As the 20th century progressed, millers continued to enrich flours with vitamins and minerals, began bleaching it, and calibrating different protein contents. Thus, Occident flour was born.
Occident Flour: Bleached vs. Unbleached
Occident flour falls into two main categories: bleached and unbleached. Bleaching flour is the process of using chemicals such as chlorine to age flour after it is milled, aging dries the flour out and whitens it to make it fit for use. Unbleached flour is aged naturally over time, it sits out to dry and whiten on its own, which takes much longer than using chemical agents.
This processing creates some slight differences in texture and protein content in bleached vs. unbleached Occident flour.
So what about the actual baking?
As unbleached Occident flour is less treated, it retains more of wheat structure, making it slightly coarser with more protein. With this added protein, unbleached occident flour is better for more complex baked goods with more structure. Yeast dough, muffins, biscuits, biscotti, bagels, and pizza dough are good examples of items that are better when made with unbleached occident flour.
On the other hand, the treatment of bleached Occident flour makes it finer in texture with less protein, making it better suited for products that are more delicate in structure. For example, cakes, pie crusts, cookies, pancakes, and waffles are all products that would be better when made with bleached Occident flour.
Finally, keep in mind that bleached and unbleached Occident flour are interchangeable. Regardless of what you’re making, it will turn out okay with either type of flour. Depending on which kind you use, there might be a slight difference in the texture of the finished product. But, ultimately, it’s not worth fretting over or going out and buying specifically bleached or unbleached occident flour for a specific recipe.
Occident Flour vs. Bread Flour
Occident flour and bread flour are two different types of product, there is no such thing as Occident bread flour. The main difference between Occident flour and bread flour is the amount of protein (gluten) in them.
Occident flour is made from a mix of hard and soft wheat, giving it a protein content of around 8-11% whereas bread flour is made from only hard wheat, giving it a protein content of 13% or more.
The added protein of bread flour gives foods more structure, texture, and chewiness. Therefore, bread flour is better for complex, robust, artisanal dough such as sourdough, baguettes, and pizza dough. The higher protein content also means that bread flour generally has more flavor and nutritional value than Occident flour.
While bread flour may be more robust, the lower protein content of Occident flour makes it more versatile. Soft, white bread such as a hot dog or hamburger buns come out better with the lighter, finer occident flour as well do most cakes, cookies, pie crusts, and other pastries. Not only that, but occident flour is also cheaper and more readily available than bread flour.
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