Just in time for holiday baking, Cindy Falk, nutrition educator for Kansas Wheat, reveals some of the secrets to achieving great baked goods when using whole grain flour.
"My favorite way to incorporate more whole grain flour into baking is to use white whole wheat flour," Falk says. "It is ideal for the full range of your holiday baking repertoire, from cookies to quick breads, yeast breads and even pie crusts."
Whole wheat flour is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and provides from 3-15 g of dietary fiber per 1 cup serving. Wheat flour also contains B-vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium. This flour is available at most supermarkets, catalogues and health food stores.
Any recipe that calls for all-purpose or bread flour may use 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose or bread flour. In order to make a 100% whole wheat product, try substituting 1 cup of whole wheat flour minus 1 tablespoon for every cup of all-purpose or bread flour in the recipe.
Falk has been baking for more than 50 years and white whole wheat flour is one of her favorite flours to bake with at any time of the year.
When choosing the right whole wheat flour for your baking needs, whole wheat, stone ground and graham flour can be used interchangeably in recipes. These flours are produced by either grinding the entire wheat kernel or by combining the white flour, germ and bran that have been separated during the milling process. Their nutrient values differ only minimally and the only differences may be coarseness and protein content.
"Preparing baked goods for the holidays is easy and can appeal to everyone's taste, budget and busy schedule," Falk says.
Falk's tips for baking with whole wheat flour include:
Be sure to measure flour correctly. To do so, stir flour and spoon into dry measuring cups, then level with a flat-edged utensil.
Sift flour only if the recipe specifies to pre-sift before measuring.
Store any leftover whole wheat flour from your holiday baking in a sealable container in the refrigerator or freezer if possible. Before using again, allow the whole wheat flour to warm to room temperature and inspect for rancidity.
Time-saving methods include using the standard-mixer's dough hook to knead the bread and making the yeast dough ahead of time and letting it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Shape and bake the bread the next morning.
Bread machines are holiday friendly as they save you much time. Program the bread machine to make the dough, then remove the risen dough and shape and bake it in your own oven.
One of Falk's favorite whole wheat holiday recipes is Sweet Wheat Bread. This bread recipe was a finalist in the 2011 National Festival of Breads and can be found at: www.nationalfestivalofbreads.com/recipes/detail.aspx?id=237