It’s no secret that fried foods are delicious. There’s something truly irresistible about the crispy, golden crusts that form around whatever is being fried up. However, to achieve that desirable coating, it is essential to know what kind of flour to fry with. Typically, people consider using all-purpose flour to fry foods, but some question if using baking flour could be a better alternative.
Baking flour can be used for frying foods. However, it often has a high protein content of 13% or higher, producing a fried food that is too tough or chewy. To offset this, either find a baking flour with between 10-12% protein or add cornstarch or rice flour to offset the protein content.
In this article, I will take a look at what it takes to find the perfect alternative flour for you to create a final product that matches your taste and texture desires.
Frying With Baking Flour
Whether you’re out of regular flour or merely wanting to try something different, baking flour is an excellent alternative to all-purpose flour. However, high protein can cause too much gluten and lead to a sub-optimal final product. This is especially true if you like lighter, crispier fried foods.
Gluten is formed as a result of proteins that produce strands of gluten that absorb any moisture or fat. When the absorption becomes too much, that is when a food product is transformed into something too chewy.
How to Offset the High Protein Content of Baking Flour
Incorporating cornstarch and/or rice flour into flour with a high protein content will offset the amount of gluten and make your fried foods more light and crispy. As a rule of thumb, add about 1/4 cup of corn starch or rice flour per cup of high protein flour. You could increase the ratio to 1/2 cup per cup of high protein flour for an even lighter coating.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it. While too much gluten can make for a tough breaded coating, not enough gluten can make the batter not cling very well to foods. Instead of having a lighter, crispier outer layer, you might end up with no outer layer at all since not enough gluten would make the batter just fall right off when it is put in the oil.
What Are Some Alternative Flours To Fry Foods?
Baking flour isn’t the only alternative to all-purpose flour when it comes to frying up your favorite foods. Knowing various other choices can really broaden your cooking horizons. In fact, in today’s world, there are so many different types of flours out there that will work.
With this in mind, what are some of the other flour alternatives that can be used for frying foods? Below is a list of some of the best substitutions out there.
1. Cake Flour
Cake flour is sometimes confused with baking flour. While the two flours are quite similar in texture (they are both finer-textured flours), their protein contents vary slightly. Cake flour has about 7% protein, while baking flour has a higher percentage, of at least 9% and often much higher. That percentage difference is significant.
While cake flour has a lower protein number, it can still be a great alternative in frying foods. This flour and baking flour can really create a lighter yet still crispy exterior on classics like mozzarella sticks or chicken tenders.
The low gluten content in cake flour is a great way to lighten your foods and still get the perfect coating on fried food. Even so, people sometimes feel the need to add more cake flour to make a thicker coating. If this is done with regular flour, the coating will always be chewier and tough.
This is another benefit of using cake flour; more of it can be used in a recipe for a thicker fried crust that isn’t too chewy or tough!
2. Self-Rising Flour
Self-Rising Flour is probably one of the best alternatives to traditional flour coatings. This flour gets its name from the addition of baking powder and salt.
Baking powder makes the flour puff up or self-rise. Because of this, using self-rising flour in fried recipes creates a truly crispy and delicious outer coating. Many fried chicken recipes will call for self-rising flour and even if they don’t, try swapping it out. Just make sure you check the protein content and adjust accordingly.
Cornstarch is a kitchen staple that serves many purposes. It is most commonly used to thicken gravies and can even be used in place of flour when making a roux for sauces. But what about frying? The answer is yes!
Cornstarch is a great choice to fry up foods. It has a thicker consistency and really sticks to things well. Moreover, when it is combined with other flours, it prevents too much gluten from forming. Baking powder is another product to consider adding to flour so that it puffs up the coating.
This is basically the same principle we already discussed in reverse. Instead of adding cornstarch to lighten and “crispify” your fried foods, you add flour to the cornstarch to thicken it up and make it slightly chewier. This, of course, depends on your taste. Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.
4. Almond Flour
Almond flour is a super popular ingredient in many keto recipes. It is considered a healthier choice when making foods that require regular flour.
When it comes to frying foods, almond flour can be used but with a few requirements that should be met. Almond flour typically comes in two varieties: blanched and unblanched. Blanched almond flour implies that the skins of the almonds were removed before processing. Thus, unblanched means the opposite.
Blanched almond flour tends to be more delicate in texture, making it more appropriate for a frying alternative. However, if almond flour is being used, cornstarch or arrowroot should be added. This amalgamation aids in getting a crispy texture. Without this, almond flour isn’t the best choice for frying foods.
5. Rice Flour
Rice flour can be a tricky alternative to regular flour when frying foods. Just make sure you don’t use “glutinous” rice flour. As its name implies, it has more gluten in it, which results in a sticky texture.
Typically, glutinous rice flour is used in desserts like puddings, dumplings, etc. This is because when it is heated, the product gets really sticky. Thus, without modification, it is not the best choice for frying foods.
However, regular rice flour is a little less glutinous, making it suitable for some fried foods. Regular rice flour can make a fried recipe a bit lighter in texture as well as provide a thinner, crispier coating.
6. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is another type of flour commonly used in keto recipes. For the most part, this flour is used in baking recipes like cakes, etc.
When it comes to frying foods, coconut flour can be used. However, much like it’s keto partner almond flour, it is crucial that you add cornstarch or baking powder to help out its overall consistency. Using coconut flour by itself will not result in an overly crunchy texture that is not ideal for fried foods.
7. Tapioca Flour
Tapioca flour has a similar texture to cornstarch. In fact, it can often be used in place of cornstarch or potato flakes in some recipes.
Because of this, tapioca flour can be used for frying foods. It is suggested that a 1:2 ratio is used when substituting this for cornstarch, even in frying recipes. Moreover, this flour can also be combined with other flours or even a small addition of cornstarch when frying foods. The reason behind this is to increase the crunch factor.
8. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour isn’t usually considered an excellent alternative to all-purpose flour. This is because it is a denser flour, and when it’s used in larger amounts, you can get an unpleasant floury aftertaste. However, instead, it is considered a good tempura batter.
When used on chicken or shrimp, chickpea flour can be used for the perfect tempura coating. This is best achieved by adding club soda to the flour and spice mixture. Club soda makes the batter lighter and airier in its texture when it is fried.
Overall, with slight modifications, just about any type of flour can be used for frying. You just have to find the correct ratios to match the taste and texture you are looking for. That’s what is great about cooking. There is unlimited variety and room for experimentation. Good luck on your quest for the perfect alternative flour combination!
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