IT SEEMS like ever since the lockdowns since March, everyone has decided to start baking. Photos of loaves of sourdough, banana bread, and focaccia flood social media feeds, while people are swapping cookies with friends or donating treats. And most of these are made with flour.

What many newbie or home bakers may not know is that the quality and type of flour can affect the outcome of their baked goods, from the texture and crew, to flavor.

The strength of flour is measured by the quality and amount of its gluten content. It’s what gives baked goods its structure and makes the dough elastic and firm, so it’s best to choose the best type for a particular recipe. All-purpose and whole wheat flours are made with harder wheat which is higher in gluten and therefore good for breads and loaves. Meanwhile, cake flour is made with soft, finer wheat, and therefore is good for more delicate pastries like cakes and crepes. Different types also affect the texture and tastiness of bread.

Another key point of flour is its absorption ability (usually between 55% and 65%), which affects the consistency of the dough. It holds together all that sugar, eggs, and milk, making for a nice, gooey mixture. Other than that, flour is also a binding and thickening agent, used for more than just baking.

The term “all-purpose flour” is used for flour made with a mix of refined hard and soft wheat, which means it can be used for almost any recipe, making it a good choice for those starting out, or who want to try a variety of recipes. It is a reliable choice for both beginner bakers and more seasoned ones.

It is best to keep all-purpose flour in the freezer for 48 hours after you buy it. Then, transfer to an airtight container and store in a dry pantry away from direct sunlight. This way, the flour will last as long as a year.

One of the most familiar is Maya All-Purpose Flour, which has been a staple in Filipino homes for generations. The fact that it is fortified with vitamin A and iron, and enriched with vitamin B (riboflavin, niacin and thiamin) means one gets more nutrition with every bite.

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