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Hints from Heloise: Where is ‘instant flour?’

February 22, 2017

Dear Heloise: I have a very old “Instant Chocolate Cake” recipe from the ’60s or ’70s that calls for 1-1/4 cups of instant flour. You mix it directly in a square cake pan. I can no longer find “instant” cake flour. Can you suggest a substitute? — Dorothy D., Hutchinson, Kan.

Sure can. Generally, you can use all-purpose flour, cake flour or pastry flour in most recipes. Instant flour is a very fine powder, and it dissolves quickly in hot or cold liquid. You can try cake or pastry flour as a test and see how the cake turns out. However, you will have to stir more than normal to remove any lumps. — Heloise

P.S. For my readers who are interested in instant flour, look online or at your closest big-box store. Here’s a hint: Share it with a neighbor or co-worker if you need to buy a large quantity.

Dear Heloise: You know how you buy a bag of marshmallows to use in the sweet-potato casserole and every year you use only about a cup of marshmallows and stash the rest away for the next year? And when you go to use them, they are a congealed mass, no matter how carefully you sealed them up?

I learned a secret and used the same bag of marshmallows for three years, and they were still as fresh and nonsticky as the day I bought them. After using them, I squeezed out as much air as possible and placed the bag into a zippered plastic bag and into the freezer. I figured I had nothing to lose. The next year, I was delighted when I opened the bag and out tumbled the marshmallows, just as powdery and nonsticky as the day I put them in the freezer. Not a high money savings, but every penny counts, and there is no wasting of food! — Lennie W., Durham, N.C.

Dear Heloise: I use my toaster oven daily for at least one meal preparation. Whether I’m heating a new dish or reheating leftovers, I place my plate (Heloise Here: Be sure it’s china or stoneware, not paper) on top of the oven while the food cooks. This warms the plate nicely and keeps the food warm as I eat. — Linda F. in New Mexico

Dear Heloise: I have found a great hint for spreading peanut butter and jelly when making sandwiches: Forget the knife, and use the back of a spoon. This keeps the bread from tearing apart. You also can use the spoon for other condiments during sandwich preparation. — Jim K., Omaha, Neb.

Dear Heloise: I make a lot of banana bread to give as gifts and also to take to work occasionally. I started using a fluted cake pan to bake it in. Instead of the typical loaf, I think it makes the bread look more special. — Diane L., via email