I have a question about self-rising flour. I have a recipe that calls for yeast and warm water. I was wondering if I can substitute self-rising flour and avoid all the yeast and it's complications (like water at 110 degrees etc.)? The recipe is for cinnamon rolls.
Thank you so much for your help.
Self-rising flour is a lower protein all purpose flour with baking powder and salt added in. The amount of salt varies by maker.
You could substitute self-rising for bread or regular all purpose flour but what you will end up with will be more like a cinnamon tea biscuit. In bread making, proteins in the flour form glutens that trap carbon dioxide gas produced by the yeast, similar to a balloon filling with air, to make the product rise. During baking, evaporation of alcohol also produced by fermentation of sugars by the yeast cause the bubbles to inflate further. Because yeast produces lots of gas over a long period, the gluten structure is needed to trap the gas and make bread recipes work right.
Unlike bread, cakes, biscuits and cookies don't rely on gluten to trap gases. Instead of releasing lots of gas over a long period, baking powder releases relatively less carbon dioxide fairly quickly, mostly as the product is baking. Starch in the flour or proteins from other ingredients like eggs set as the gas is released. A balance of ingredients, temperatures and timing need to work together to make the the product set.
Self-rising flour is used in cakes and biscuits, not breads, and shouldn't be kneaded like bread. If you do knead it, any gluten that forms will work against the baking powder, resulting in less rise and a flat, tough result. So if you replace the yeast and flour in your recipe, you shouldn't knead the dough, which in turn means that you will end up with a cake or biscuit like texture.
Beyond that, you will likely need to reduce the amount of liquid since lower protein flour absorbs less water. The amount of water you want to use will be enough to make a dough the consistency of rolled biscuits. You will also want to reduce the salt in the recipe if your self-rising flour contains salt. The exact amount you need to reduce it by is not easy to predict but may be as much as 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour.
You may find that you need to alter the amount of fat in the dough, too, to get a satisfactory texture.
Finally, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of sugar in the dough to get the right balance of flavors.
The exact amounts for all of these changes is hard to predict, since they depend on the initial recipe, as well as other factors and personal tastes. A better starting point might be to begin with a recipe for rolled biscuits using self-risng flour and take it from there, rather than starting with a yeast recipe.