Whole-wheat baking is a delicious way to enrich your diet, but baking with whole-wheat flour takes some practice. If you’re new to baking with whole-wheat flour, work your way up slowly to determine the right proportion of whole-wheat flour for your preferences. As you explore, keep a few things in mind.
Working with Whole Wheat
Whole-wheat flour can replace regular flour one-to-one in your favorite recipes, but know that it will change the texture, flavor and the rise of the finished product. It won’t have quite as high a rise and the texture will feel more dense. It’s a safe bet to replace half of the all-purpose flour in a recipe with whole-wheat without making any other changes to a recipe. If you’re looking to dive in all the way, take the time to find recipes that were developed with whole-wheat flour to begin with. This makes sure a recipe was developed, tested and refined with the proper balance of liquids to ensure an ideal texture. If you choose to substitute all whole-wheat flour, you may need to experiment with additional quantities of liquid.
The Ease of Baking with Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour
Whole-wheat flour is most often milled from hard red winter wheat, grown primarily in the Midwest. Whole-wheat pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat, the pride of Northwest wheat growers. It still retains all the nutrients found in the bran and germ, but it has a slightly lower protein content and contains less gluten. It’s a perfect choice when you want the nutritional value of whole-wheat flour, but still wish for tender, light texture.
Tender baked goods are especially challenging to make with 100% whole-wheat flour, so whole-wheat pastry flour is great alternative. We’re talking about pancakes, waffles, quick breads, crepes, pastries and muffins. In these recipes, go for a one-have to one-to-one substitution of whole-wheat pastry flour that wholesome nutrition and nutty flavor while still enjoying a light, tender texture. For an even more tender result, opt for a partial substitution. The lower protein content of whole-wheat pastry flour also produces light, flaky pie crust. Whole-wheat pastry flour does absorb a bit more liquid, so you may find you need to experiment by adding less flour or more liquid to batters such pancakes and quick breads.
Crisp and crunchy baked goods or treats with dense texture such as cookies and brownies are a delicious way to begin featuring either whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour. Since you’re not going for a light and tender crumb, whole-wheat flour adds great texture.
Because of the lower protein and gluten content, whole-wheat pastry flour doesn’t work quite as well for yeasted breads where you want to create gluten for structure. You may have better luck sticking with regular whole-wheat flour. If you’re substituting 100% whole-wheat flour one-to-one for regular flour, add an additional two tablespoons of liquid per cup of flour and let the dough rest for 30 minutes, lightly covered, before kneading. Expect 100% whole-wheat bread to not rise as much and to have a denser texture.
For partial whole-wheat substitutions, keep in mind that the bran in whole-wheat flour can impair the gluten in all-purpose flour. This is important because gluten gives bread its structure and helps it rise. For this reason, you might have better luck with a partial substitution of whole-wheat flour in recipes using bread flour rather than all-purpose flour, as bread flour has a higher gluten content.
Adding to The Mix
Mix things up and try using additional grains, oats, nuts or other ingredients to enrich flavor and texture. Not only does it add delicious complexity to your recipes, it adds additional nutrients.
Fruits add sweet, bright flavor, texture and moistness to recipes made with whole wheat. Consider berries added to breakfast recipes such as pancakes or dried fruit mixed into scones or cookies. Fruit crisps and crumbles are a natural choice for whole-wheat, as it adds more complex texture to toppings. Chocolate is another great go-to for enhancing whole-wheat recipes.