I love bread! Especially soft, fresh white bread. I know it’s not good for you so I decided to explore whole-grain flour vs white flour.
White flour makes light and tender baked goods. There is something else white flour does in the process. It creates inflammation inside of us by pushing blood sugar up in a dramatic spike and then plummeting it down again. We should avoid this because our most devastating diseases, including cancer, are often preceded by years of subtle internal inflammation. Blood sugar spikes happen whether we use white flour in sweetened baked goods or in baked foods like biscuits, breads and pizza dough.
White flour has been stripped of nutrients.
There are many varieties of whole-grain flour that we can use for baking, and all are nutritious and flavorful. While there are some baked goods that can handle a transition to all whole-grain flour, others will not. But even a portion of whole-grain flour added to a recipe will lessen its impact on blood sugar in a meaningful way, minimizing the effect. In addition, substituting at least some whole-grain flour makes baked goods less flimsy and more substantive, while adding flavor.
It can be a difficult transition to whole grains. The baked goods are denser. The easiest way to start is to substitute half with whole-grain flour and half with white flour. Nearly every baked good can handle this substitution. It can make the transition easier if you love soft white bread like I do.
Whole-wheat bread flour, made from hard wheat, is best for pizza crust, bread, and some pancakes. Whole-wheat pastry flour, made from soft wheat, is better for muffins, biscuits, popovers, scones, waffles, pie crusts, cakes and many pancakes. When you use hard wheat it is chewier. When you use soft wheat it is more tender.
When baking with Whole-wheat flour you will need to adjust the amount of flour in your recipe. Three cups of all-purpose flour becomes about 2-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour; in this case, the total flour has been decreased by 2 tablespoons (1/4 cup=4 tablespoons).
Batters made of all or mostly whole wheat will benefit from a rest before baking. This will improve the flavor; it will also lighten the texture, making it smoother, and give the flour needed time to absorb liquid in the batter. A rest can be as short as a half hour or as long as over-night in the refrigerator.
To achieve a light texture when using whole grains mix the batter only enough to combine all the ingredients.
Appreciating whole-grain flour in baked goods may require some time for our palettes to appreciate it. But over time I have learned to enjoy the dense breads and treats I have baked. Knowing that I am putting something that is helpful and not harmful to my body makes me feel good.
You can start by buying your whole-grain wheat flour at your local supermarket, King Arther Flour has been making flour for 200 years and have a high quality product. Or you can purchase whole wheat berries and mill the grain yourself which is what I do. I love the smell of freshly milled flour. (I will demonstrate my wonderful mill on a future post).