Frequent flour recalls are starting to make everyone's favorite part of cookie making (licking the bowl clean) seem life-threatening. However, if you take the time to toast your flour before using it in your recipe, you not only kill any lingering bacteria, like E. coli, but you also add a delicious nutty flavor to your cookies from the toasting process.
As the FDA expands the General Mills flour recalls due to potential E. coli contamination, consumers need to be more aware of the ingredients that they are using in their everyday cooking. Flour is usually consumed after undergoing high heats (i.e. baked in an oven), so at that point, all of the potentially harmful bacteria has been killed off. However, this is not the case if you're consuming raw cookie dough (don't lie, we all do it).
It’s almost second nature to swipe a bit of dough from the bottom of the bowl when baking cookies or other treats. We’ve been told time and time again that this is an unsafe practice because of potential salmonella from raw eggs. Now, we not only have to worry about raw eggs, but also the potentially contaminated flour.
The good news: an easy cooking method will not only ensure that your ingredients will not make you sick, but it might even make your final product taste much, much better. The answer is to toast your flour. Simply spread two cups of flour on a baking sheet or Silpat, and bake for about 5 minutes at 350° F. Let cool completely. Then use the flour in your preferred cookie recipe.
By carrying out this toasting process, you are killing off any bacteria that might be lingering in your flour before you’ve baked the cookies. In other words, you are giving yourself permission to lick that batter bowl clean!* So, what are you waiting for? Turn on the oven and start making your favorite cookies.
*If the recipe you are using calls for raw eggs, buy pasteurized eggs to avoid possible Salmonella contamination. Pasteurized eggs, like pasteurized milk, have been treated to kill all bacteria. That makes them safe in everything from cookie dough to cocktails.