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Wondra Flour


Priscilla
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Seems like it, anyways.

Wondra Instantized Flour, its 1963 origin described here on the General Mills flour website, was indicated for dredging scallopine in a Mario Batali recipe I was reading the other day, and I was reminded how exotic a product this is, to me.

Not to everyone--Wondra is a commonplace for some cooks, I know--I remember seeing the blue-and-white canister in friend's mother's kitchens, for instance. And I have heard cooks remarking on how they wouldn't make gravy with anything else.

I've used it only once that I can recall, gathering ingredients to pan-fry some local oysters in a coastal Washington state vacation cabin, and the small size of the package seemed just right. The surprise was the coating on the oysters turned out to be extra good, light and crisp and with a sort of sandy texture unlike any regular-flour coating I'd ever prepared.

So, Wondra. Instantized Flour. Who uses it and what for and should I, too?

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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It's my flour of choice for dipping fish into before frying.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I keep it on hand just for those baking occasions when the recipe says, "Grease and flour pans". You get a beautifully sheer coating with no thick-thin spots. Also, salted and peppered, for dusting fish before putting through egg-wash and panko crumbs.

eGullet member #80.

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It's my flour of choice for dipping fish into before frying.

Jaymes, why is this? And how did you acquire the preference?

Taught to me by my grandmother, father, aunt, etc. And, it just gives such a light crust. Crunchy, but somehow the texture is so good. Hard to explain. Not heavy. Of course, like others have said, I season it just like flour and use it in the same way, but it comes out better. Kinda puffy, more like tempura.

My grandmother was a wonderful cook, and if you had to name a single dish that she liked the best, and for which she was known, in her later years anyway that would have been fried fish. She lived the last decade or so of her life on a ranch in the Northern New Mexico/Durango Colorado area, and the Animas River ran through it. When we'd go visit her, she start in right away trying to talk us all into going down to the river and catch trout so she could fry it up for dinner. I think that as soon as Wondra came out, she tried it and adopted it as her favorite coating.

And it's wonderful for gravy as well - smoother, I think, and again, lighter, and it mixes more easily. And there are other recipes I use it in also.

In fact, Pillsbury made a similar product. I think they called it "gravy thickener" or some such thing. It came in a round box, like Quaker Oats. I can't find it anymore, but Wondra is the exact same thing. I know because I've compared ingredients and there is no difference whatsoever.

I'm not a food chemist, and am at a loss to tell you exactly why and how Wondra (a Gold Medal product) is "different" and so good. But I only know it is.

I remember once, not too long ago, I happened to be at a dinner with some friends. One of them had brought HIS friend, who I did not know previously. The friend of the friend was a master chef just visiting from out West somewhere, and they were discussing how he was famous for his fried fish. Everyone kept asking for his "secret ingredient." The people at the table who had eaten it mentioned how light and crispy and puffy the coating was. Finally I said to the guy, "By any chance, are you using Wondra?" He laughed and said that as a matter of fact, yes he was.

:biggrin:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Wondra is "pre-gelatinized" -- which makes it the flour equivalent of Minute Rice or "instant" couscous. Kind of precooked and then dried. If I remember right, gelatinization is the property of expansion of the starch when flour is mixed with water and heated (think of the thickening of a sauce). Wondra has already been expanded, and will not absorb as much liquid. That may be why it gives such a light, delicate crust. Also, it is relatively low in protein -- so it isn't as stretchy as even all-purpose.

I learned about using it as a coating flour when I trailed at Artisanal: they dip the skate in milk and Wondra before they sauté it, and it comes out with a wonderful crust. Now I'm weaning myself off AP for coatings.

Edit: If I got the science part wrong, please correct me, anyone who can.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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Jaymes, you're making a compelling case for my "should I" question. It was the characteristics of the startlingly good crust, described up there about the fried oysters on vacation, that has remained with me.

I'm thinking Wondra oughta find a place in my pantry.

Margaret, how did you come to use Wondra as the flour for panko'd fish? Do you use it for dredging other things too? And the baking pans...wonder if Wondra's granulated texture helps in releasing?

Suzanne, your restaurant experience resonates with Jayme's conversation with the chef at the dinner party. I think everybody IS doing it. Do you mean you're weaning yourself away from ap to Wondra?

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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I'm thinking Wondra oughta find a place in my pantry.

Well, the bottom line is that a box of it doesn't cost much, so it'd probably be a good idea for you to buy one and try it in some batters and gravies and brownies, etc.

If you don't like it, you can always pitch it with little lost investment.

And then, forevermore, you'll know. :biggrin:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My 2¢'s. It's worth having around for all the aforementioned reasons. Just don't store it in the original container. Transfer it into a jar after opening.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I had to pinch myself to see if I was awake and not dreaming. Today is my son's birthday and he wanted me to prepare a special dinner for him. I decide on fried oysters in a white wine sauce. Just a moment and I mean only a moment ago I was thinking about the flour I would need. I then read all the glowing reports about the Wondra product. I checked my pantry and sure enough their sat a box of Wondra unopened. So guess what? With out any testing to prove the recipe my son hopefully will have fried oysters tomorrow night. I am kind of excited about them myself. But I was born excited about food. I use the Wondra for gravies. It is a pass-it-down thing from my mother. And mom's mother was an inn keeper, back when all the carriages had one horse power.

Wondra is a Gold Metal product and is about the only processed food in my personal kitchen. It contains wheat flour, malted barley as read from the label. They are not giving away any proprietary secrets here. Damned my curiousity.

Sue, I read you rather technical comments with a keen interest. Put a small quantity of Wondra in the palm of you hand and test taste it. See if it does something curious. The moisture from my tongue seems to make the Wondra disappear or reduce in volume. It is like a portion of it simple disappears. What ever.

Edited by chefvic123 (log)
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I decide on fried oysters in a white wine sauce.

Your son has a pretty sophisticated palate!

If my Mom served this to me when I was a kid, I wouldnt have eaten it...

...but now I would love it!...

Edited by awbrig (log)
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My son, when he was four or five, I prepared an Indian dinner for him and perhaps I was a little carried away with the curry. So fishing around for comment from him, I asked how he enjoyed his meal. Of course, he said it was just fine. The little politician. He also mention, next time don't use so much curry. I was shocked and am still in wonderment. He was an early reader perhaps he read the recipe and took notice to a new ingredient. I have no idea. He just finished War and Peace yesterday. He is a happy little twelve year old and I will fix a special meal for him anytime.

Edit: This old rock thrower misspelled Peace. No wonder I was not allowed to paint the signs.

Edited by chefvic123 (log)
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I checked my pantry and sure enough their sat a box of Wondra unopened.  So guess what?  With out any testing to prove the recipe my son hopefully will have fried oysters tomorrow night.

Please don't forget to let us all know how the birthday dinner goes!! :rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Hearing about Wondra rang a bell and I remembered reading about it in Alice Medrich's "Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts". She uses it to make a low fat tart crust. I haven't tried the recipe myself, but she claims it makes a tender and light, though not flaky tart shell.

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Besides gravies, which I talked about in the round steak thread, I also use it when I need just a little thickening. You can sprinkle it directly into your broth or whatever, and it won't lump up like AP flour. Just stir it in. I also have to second the fish coating. It's just enough coating to protect the fish flesh, but not enough to make it seem like a "coating". I'd never be without it.

Stop Family Violence

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He just finished War and Piece yesterday

is that like War and Peace? :smile:

Actually, Awbrig, there IS another book entitled "War and Piece" and perhaps it is that to which Chefvic was referring.

It's the story of my first marriage....

:biggrin:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My 2¢'s. It's worth having around for all the aforementioned reasons. Just don't store it in the original container. Transfer it into a jar after opening.

PJ

Why?

I usually buy Wondra in the small round cardboard container with the dispenser top. I found out the hard way that that container is definitely not bug proof. In fact if you introduce an unprotected container of Wondra into the pantry all those tiny black bugs hibernating in the Hungarian paprika and the shitake mushrooms will awaken and seek it out.

Seriously, I think I was programmed at an early age by watching my grandmother--she was a master in pantry management in the days before zip-locks and twist-ties. All the dry goods went into jars with a small piece of the boxtop ripped off and added for identification. She even cut down half empty cornflake boxes to save space in the cabinets. :laugh:

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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That's what I figured. I too transfer everything into glass jars or plastic containers (I love Rubbermaid!) or at the very least put the stuff into a plastic bag. But that last action doesn't work if the flour (in my case, 2# of Hecher's Whole Wheat) is already infested when it's purchased; at least the bugs don't spread, though. :wacko:

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I read somewhere that if you put flour into the freezer for a few days it kills all those little critters.

Don't know if it's true - but I usually keep mine in the fridge anyway.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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He just finished War and Piece yesterday

is that like War and Peace? :smile:

Actually, Awbrig, there IS another book entitled "War and Piece" and perhaps it is that to which Chefvic was referring.

It's the story of my first marriage....

:biggrin:

And, of course, there was "War and Peas" the story of getting my kids to eat veggies :laugh:

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