Ask Roni – Whole Wheat Flour

http://greenlitebites.com/2008/05/11/ask-roni-whole-wheat-flour/

Hi Roni,
I am planning on making your pumpkin muffins this week, and so I was wondering…Are there general rules to follow when substituting regular flour for wheat flour in a recipe? When you swap in wheat flour, does this change the amount of baking powder, liquid, or any other ingredients in the recipe? I have family recipes for pumpkin bread and banana bread and I would love to learn how to make them healthier with wheat flour. Thanks!
-Megan

This is yet another great question! But I must admit I’m not the best person to ask. I tend to break a lot of “rules” when cooking and one of those rules involves substituting whole wheat flour for all purpose. Actually who am I kidding? I don’t really know what the rules are!

So I researched for you…

From what I read and heard the general rule of thumb is ½ and and ½. So if your recipe calls to 1 cup all purpose flour you could substitute ½ cup all purpose and ½ whole wheat. Both this site and this site agree.

That being said I would start there and then increase it to ¾ whole wheat and ¼ all purpose but I’m an experimenter by nature. Actually, who am I kidding? I’d probably try all whole wheat, have the recipe flop and then do the half and half rule! If you want to try all whole wheat cut back on the amount of flour and use 7/8 cup for every 1 cup all purpose flour the recipe calls for.

Now that answer is for traditional whole wheat flour but there are other whole grain options. There is whole wheat white flour and whole wheat pastry flour as well. Whole wheat white is a whole grain flour made from a lighter wheat berry and from my experience it can be used just as all purpose flour. I’ve substituted it 1 for 1 without a problem and I’ve gotten the best results using it for my whole wheat pizza dough. The whole wheat pastry flour is a very fine milled flour and I’ve used it for cookies with great results as well.

So that’s about the extend of my flour knowledge and I am by no means an expert. Does anyone else want to share their whole wheat flour experiences for Megan?

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5 Comments and 0 Replies

  1. Leanna

    When I’m baking and using whole wheat flour, I add a tablespoon of whole wheat gluten per cup of flour to make it chewier. I do that with things like pizza dough and bread.

  2. Shannon

    It depends on how whole wheat-y you want it to taste. Some people don’t want it to taste “healthy”, so the 1:1 sub of whole wheat for AP flour isn’t desirable. It is generally easier to do a 1:1 sub of AP flour with WW Pastry flour or white whole wheat flour. I think there’s something to do with protein, and that’s what makes whole wheat flour denser in baked goods.

    Check this out (hopefully Kath doesn’t mind me linking to her site)
    link to katheats.com

  3. noelle

    It’s the red wheat (in traditional whole wheat flour) that has the strong flavor a lot of folks don’t like. White whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour are both made from soft white wheat berries.

    You can also soak the flour overnight in skim milk, yogurt or kefir to break it down a little and make it more palatable. There’s a recipe at urbanhomemaker.com with the most incredibly light whole wheat pancakes that soak the flour overnight…called “sprouting” the grain.

    I’m a total flour nerd!

    And we like our stuff so wheat-y that I add ground flax meal to most quick breads to add fiber and replace some oil. You need to try THAT one, Roni!

  4. Susie

    I’m by no means an expert on wheat either. But here’s what I know. Hard red wheat has a nuttier flavor than hard white wheat. Hard red and hard white wheat are used to make bread as they have a higher protein content which is needed in yeast breads. Soft white wheat has a lower protein content and is used for muffins, cookies, biscuits or anything basically that doesn’t use yeast. Typically, baking powder or soda are the leavening agents with soft white wheat. You can, however, substitute hard wheat (especially white as it has a milder flavor than red) in non-yeast baked items, it just won’t be quite as light and produce a heavier muffin, etc. My family prefers hard white wheat for our bread. I mill wheat berries (kernels) to make our whole wheat flour. We really like it! Whatever you like best and works best for you…..go for it! I don’t know if that helps or if I was repetitive from other posts, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway…..just in case it might help someone. Happy Baking!

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