I’ve been having trouble with baking here lately. Often, things come out incredibly dense, almost as though I had forgotten to add the leavening, despite the fact that I used self-rising flour. It was confusing, although things that used beaten eggs & butter as part of the leavening seemed to come out “okay” everything was denser than usual.
Tonight, I made a batch of biscuits. I’ve been baking biscuits for a very long time, and using self-rising flour makes it practically fool proof. This was the second batch I had made out of this particular bag of flour, which I had bought to replace the bag that had gotten dampened on a camping trip, as that flour didn’t seem to be rising right.
They didn’t rise at all, becoming crispy like crackers on the outside, with a layered gummy interior, exactly as if I had forgotten the baking powder. They also have that “flat” taste indicating insufficient or entirely missing salt, something that is very peculiar for self rising flour, as I can usually taste the salt quite distinctly in biscuits made with it. I keep both kinds of flour on hand, but I am certain…I didn’t use the wrong flour. (Self rising is still in-the-bag, no mistaking it.) There is only one conclusion. Walmart’s “Great Value” self rising flour is apparently missing the self rising part, at least in this bag. So far, I’ve been mystified over 3 cakes, a batch of muffins, and two batches of biscuits. I can’t have suddenly forgotten how to make these things–this is all recipes I use regularly. It can’t be the weather, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is consistently humid, winter and summer. Short of a chemical analysis, the ONLY conclusion I can make is that this bag of flour (and maybe the one before it) are faulty, as in lacking quality and consistent ingredients.
So what am I going to do about it?
There are a number of things I can do about it, but the most logical reaction is to switch brands. Sometimes, store brands are a good buy, other times you trade off quality for price. This is apparently a quality versus price trade, and the logical reaction would be to switch brands. I could also stop using self rising flour and go to adding my own leavening ingredients, something I had been doing most of my life to simplify shopping. If so, I’m still inclined to change brands. If the quality of the self-rising flour wasn’t sufficient to depend on, why would I buy their all purpose flour?
Sometimes, we all have failures, for whatever reason. On other occasions, the most logical reason for failure turns out to be failure of ingredients, usually due to poor quality. I know if I cook with rancid butter, it won’t be edible. If I use margarine instead of butter for baking croissants, I know that won’t work. I know if I use buttermilk instead of milk in a recipe, it needs other adjustments to go with it, and in some recipes, it just won’t work. The same holds true for using milk instead of buttermilk. It also does not work to substitute all purpose flour for self rising flour without adjusting accordingly.
A single failure, I would accept as my own. We all fail on occasion. But…repeated failures with the same characteristics of failure make me look at the ingredients, and in this case, it was leavening. Either it wasn’t present at all, or it was not present in sufficient quantities to do the job as it should. Hence my decision that it was faulty flour.
Now…if I could just figure out what caused the mega failure in the sausage gravy….