Baking with whole wheat flour has become quite popular in the past few years as people are becoming more and more health conscious. Opting to use whole wheat flour rather than white, bleached, all purpose flour will not only have a large nutritional impact on your baking but it will also change your baked goods dramatically.
Take a look at these tips and tricks to help you successfully bake with whole wheat flour.
Why Choose Whole Wheat Flour?
In it’s unprocessed form, wheat contains three main parts- the bran, the endosperm and the germ. When wheat is ground into white, all purpose flour, the bran and germ are removed which happen to be the healthiest parts of the wheat.
Whole wheat flour is made without removing the bran and germ, retaining much of the nutritional value of the wheat. The primary benefit of whole wheat flour is that it has much more fiber than white flour (thanks to that bran and germ!)- almost 6 times more!
Fiber can lower blood pressure, can aid in weight loss and keeps your digestive system regular. Whole wheat flour also has many more vitamins including folate, numerous B vitamins and riboflavin, all of which are absent in processed white flour.
Seems like whole wheat flour is the clear choice when it comes to health benefits!
In addition to the numerous nutritional advantages of whole wheat flour, it also adds a fantastic taste to foods. Whole wheat flour is slightly nutty, giving anything containing it a warm, comforting taste.
It also adds a good amount of color to baked goods, making them a deeper brown than when a food is made with white flour.
Challenges of Baking with Whole Wheat Flour
If you have a recipe that calls for white, all purpose flour, you may think that you can simply replace the white flour with wheat flour. After all, they are both flours, right? Well, not quite.
You can definitely use whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour but it may create a much different end product. Wheat flour can make baked goods taste drier as the flour absorbs much more liquid than white flour, sucking the moisture out as the food bakes.
Whole wheat flour can also have a coarse texture which some people find hard to enjoy. However, do not let these small differences deter you away from baking with whole wheat flour. All you need to know if how to handle the flour correctly to get a delicious, healthier baked good.
How to Bake with Whole Wheat Flour
1 – Hydrate the Batter
After you mix in the whole wheat flour into your batter, it is a good idea to let it sit and rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Allowing the batter to sit will let the wheat absorb some of the moisture in the batter, making it softer and more tender.
Then when the food bakes, the wheat will already be soft and not trying to absorb moisture during the baking process which causes a dry end product.
You can even make your batter a full day ahead of time, letting the whole wheat flour absorb moisture overnight. This will give your baked goods an amazing texture, similar to that of soft white flour. No dry baked goods here!
2 – Add More Liquid
In addition to letting the batter rest and hydrate, you should also consider adding a little more liquid to your batter.
Once your batter has rested and the whole wheat flour has absorbed some of the moisture from the batter, check and see if it is thicker than normal. If it is, add some more of the liquid that is called for in the recipe (milk, water, juice etc).
A good rule of thumb is to add 2 teaspoons extra liquid for every 1 cup of whole wheat flour.
3 – Use a Little Less
Rather than adding more liquid to a recipe, you can also opt to use a little less flour when replacing all purpose white flour with whole wheat flour.
Since whole wheat flour is more dense and heavy than white flour, use only ¾ of a cup whole wheat flour for every 1 cup of white flour you are replacing.
This will work wonderfully for cookies, muffins, cakes and scones. Once the food is baked, the texture will be as light as if you used white flour!
4 – Half and Half
When replacing white flour for whole wheat, you may want to only replace half of the white flour in order to get a baked good with a perfect texture.
Adding any whole wheat at all will add nutrition to your baked goods, you don’t need to necessarily use all whole wheat! Replacing half of the white flour is a good way to take baby steps into the world of whole wheat flour.
5 – Check the Date
As we talked about before, whole wheat flours still have the bran and germ attached to the wheat berry. While these two parts are what makes whole wheat so healthy, they are also prone to spoilage.
The less processed whole wheat flour is full of essential oils which can degrade over time. If your wheat flour has expired, it may smell rancid and should not be used. Not only would this add a bad taste to your baked goods but it also has the potential of making you sick.
Check the expiration date on your bag of whole wheat flour before you start to measure!
6 – Soften the Taste
Some people are not whole wheat flour fans because of the nutty, rich taste it adds to baked goods. Some even call the taste bitter.
In order to soften the taste of the whole wheat flour, you can substitute up to 2 tablespoons of orange juice for 3 tablespoons of the liquid in your batter.
Orange juice is naturally sweet and also acidic. The juice will compensate for the harder, bitter taste of the whole wheat flour, making it more palatable. A nice citrus flavor is also always a nice addition to almost any baked good!
Baking with whole wheat flour is definitely different that using white, all purpose flour. However, it is also definitely worth it! Whole wheat flour is so nutritious while white flour offers almost no health benefits at all.
Using these baking tips and tricks will also help you create fantastic whole wheat flour items that will make your mouth water. You will never miss that boring white flour once you turn to whole wheat- I promise!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.