Anyway, I was rereading the Martha recipe, and saw she called for all-purpose flour. Now, on Monday, I used cake flour, because that was what my friend had, and I wanted to try it. But of course a recipe that needs the chew and density from gluten won't work with cake flour! Alton Brown even goes farther, and says you should just use bread flour, though I didn't know that then.
So I went to the supermarket, intent on buying AP flour. It was really hard! Most of the flour was cake flour. There were probably some 15 types of flour, and I swear, I thought I looked at all of them (yielding 14 thin-strength flours, eg cake flour, and 1 strong-strength, eg bread flour) before I gave up and asked an attendant.
"All-purpose flour? What's that?" she said.
"It's stronger than cake flour but not as strong as bread flour," I said. (In fact I'd only learned the word myself, literally "middle strength flour" from a friend the previous day; I hadn't known that Japan even had it.)
"Let's see," she said, and started going through the same shelves I'd just examined. About 5 minutes later, after asking me if 2 different brands of cake flour were OK, she unearths 1 small bag, which had "middle strength flour" clearly written on it in small letters.
I bought the flour, and using my landlady's assistance (and kitchen scale), I made chocolate chip cookies. Her oven is very small, so I baked them 4 at a time, but they came out absolutely perfect: golden outside, chewy inside, you can taste the vanilla and brown sugar and salt.
I think I shouldn't be surprised at the proportion of soft flours to hard flours in the supermarket. The traditional Japanese food that everyone makes using flour is tempura, and for that you not only want a very soft flour, you might even add some rice flour to increase the starch content even more and make the perfect crispy crunch. And tempura is definitely an everyday thing. They also might use flour for croquettes, for breading meat, and of course for cakes. But that's it. Pretty much no one makes bread. And even I can't think of much of anything other than this that really requires AP flour. Maybe I should've just got bread flour.
Posted via m.livejournal.com.