This is a question from one of my customers, a real stumper...help please.
I’ve come to the store at the wrong times…when you weren’t there.
Dear Mr. Kiss,
When I was 10, we moved to a house with an Italian prune plum tree. I’ve been making a plum cake for 55 years with Italian prune plums. So have family members. It is fabulously popular with friends who request them from the freezer for birthdays and Christmas. I thought that I could win the Pillsbury Bake-Off with this recipe….except for the extremely short seasonal nature of the key ingredient!
It’s batter, halved plums on top, with crumble on top of the plums. A marvelous contrast of sweet and tart, soft cake and cooked plums vs. crispy top.
So! About 2-3 years ago, the plums started sinking to the bottom, no matter who is baking the cake. I have all the same baking pans, measuring implements, etc. Here’s a CLUE! In the early ‘70s, (Are you too young to have been around for this? J ) generics first showed up. These were oddly showy, stark white packaging with stark black lettering. White bag that just said FLOUR. White labels on cans that just said CORN or PEAS. When I bought that generic flour, The Plums Sank To The Bottom! When I returned to Gold Medal and Pillsbury, the problem never happened again until the last 2-3 years.
So what has been changed in the processing of flour in the last couple of years???? I also tried King Arthur—same thing. They’ve done something that was done to that generic flour 40 years ago! Do you have any ideas?
Thank you for considering this mystery.
I've just had a look over all my flours...my AP Trader Joe's has the same protein content as my Bread flour from King Arthur. It's the first time I've bought it. I guess I will be using it for challah. I will have to look more carefully at the label next time!
But I can never understand why people are stingy with "family recipes". Where would we all be without them? The joy of cooking is sharing.
May the power of the pickle compell you!
My mother was a child of the great depression.
Trying to replicated her southern recipes, flour was the key. Sometimes you have the brand they used in the reicpe or mostly likely, it's a 'given' in the recipe. Using Martha White Iilly brand, Martha White, or Gold Medal.
After some research, some of those companies ship different blends to different regions of the country. So, a Gold Medal purchased in midwest or NY might have a different blend for the AP flour.
Also...the big "Wow" moment was trying to make 'no kneed bread' (the NYT recipe).
The southern flour made it a big mess, using scoop and level with AP southern Gold Medal AP flour.
I started using a gram weight scale and measured by weight, adjusting for 'cup to weight' for Gold medal AP flour.
Then it worked perfectly. It's amazing how just a few grams of flour in a recipe can change the outcome.
We're lucky today..a gram weight scale is only about 20 bucks. So using that you can adjust for all regions of the country. (but don't use king Arthur AP flour for any southern recipe, unless you like bricks). Great for bread tho.
And HardLikeArmour's advice is always spot on.
Voted the Best Reply!
Do you dust the fruit with flour before adding to the mix? If you have fruit sinking problem, like in blueberry muffins, lightly coating the fruit with flour keeps it from sinking by making a barrier between the wet and dry and they tend to be well distributed in muffins, cobblers, or cakes.
I would imagine the 'generic' flour is more middle of the road..and might not coat as well or become more gummy and heavy.
The Gold Medal is a softer flour..and ground a bit more 'powdery' for making biscuits, cobblers..etc. That and "White Lilly" are the goto for biscuits, cobblers, and southern cooking.
Also the weight of flour/cup ratio depends on the flour type.
Gold Medal is 130g/Cup..while USDA flour (generic) is 125g/cup.
So that factor could also come into play.
Generic products? How about "beer".
I hope that boulangere and betteirene will weigh in. They have loads of baking experience and probably have some good insight!