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Ingredients Queries - Nigella Express

Asked by jurassicjlo. Answered on 16th November 2011

Full question

Hi, I am wanting to make the Banana Butterscotch Muffins from Nigella Express. Could you tell me if "flour" in the recipe is plain or self raising? Also throughout the book it refers to just "flour". Please can somone just clarify this for me?

Hi, could you tell me what is castor sugar? And what is Italian Flour?

Our answer

If Nigella's book just refers to flour then it is always plain (all-purpose) flour, whereas self-raising flour will always be stated as such. In the muffin recipe Nigella adds bicarbonate of soda and baking powder to help the muffins to rise.

In Kitchen (Kitchen Confidential) Nigella mentions that nowadays she only keeps plain flour in her pantry, partly as if you don't use it regularly it will tend to lose its raising power before the packet is finished. Instead she prefers to add baking powder and if necessary bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to plain flour. This gives more control over the recipe as you can tweak the raising agents as required. It also saves on storage space as you only need to keep one packet of flour plus smaller containers of raising agents.

If you want to convert plain flour to self-raising flour then you can add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to each 150g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour. In the US (but not the UK) self-rising flour also contains salt - 1/2 teaspoon per 1 cup flour.

Caster (or castor) sugar is a granulated sugar that is finer than regular granulated sugar but not as fine and powdery as icing sugar (confectioners' sugar). It is known as superfine sugar in the US. The name originally came from the grains being small enough to pass through as sugar shaker (or caster). As it is quite fine it is good for baking as it dissolves quickly and easily.

Italian flour is also known as pasta flour or "00" grade flour. It is a very finely milled flour and is normally made from durum wheat.

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