We all know that whole grains are good for us. But we love our favorite recipes and we don’t want to compromise those.
You can successfully substitute whole grains for some of the white flour in those recipes without destroying the goodies your family loves. The following guidelines and resources will help you do so.
How to Add Whole Wheat Flour
In most recipes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for white flour with just a few changes in the recipe.
- Use no more than 60% whole wheat flour. We substitute 40% to 60% successfully. The remaining white flour mellows and compromises the course bran in whole wheat flour.You can make 100% whole wheat bread. This is the best 100% whole wheat bread recipe that we know.
- Adjust the water. It won’t take much—maybe just a teaspoon–but different flours absorb water at different rates.
- Add wheat gluten. It’s wheat gluten that holds things together and keeps them from getting crumbly. We don’t care in a tender muffin but we want our breads to be chewy. It’s the tiny strands of gluten that makes breads chewy. The bran in whole wheat flour is sharp enough to cut those strands and destroy part of the gluten. Replace damaged gluten simply by adding more wheat gluten »If you want to know more, get this free e-book, “Begin ingredients and How They Work.”
- Add potato flour. Baked goods dry out. Whole wheat seems to make that more noticeable. One of the secrets of professional bakers is that they slip a little potato flour into their recipes. Why? It doesn’t take much but potato flour is hygroscopic, that is it draws moisture from the air rather than drying out. It will keep your baked goods moister, longer. Do what the pros do and keep potato flour in your cupboard »
- If you are making bread, use dough conditioner. It extends those gluten strands and makes your bread taller, lighter, and chewier. That’s especially important when you are using whole wheat flour. See our dough conditioner here »
Using Rolled or Chopped Whole Grains
We use rolled whole grains frequently in breads, muffins, and cookies. We use chopped whole grains less frequently, usually in breads.
Rolled whole grains make bread goods moister and chewier while chopped grains create a little chewy nuggets.
If you don’t use too much rolled whole grain, it’s barely noticeable. If you add more, it creates a delightful moist chewiness in your baking.
We use rolled oats most frequently and quick oats more frequently than old fashioned oats with their larger particle sizes. Rolled oats are tenderer, softer than other rolled grains and quick oats with their smaller pieces seem to just disappear in when used in modest amounts. We add quick oats to many of our cookie mixes.
Rarely do we substitute rolled grains for more than one-fourth of the flour.
Using Other Grains
We use rye flour frequently. It’s almost tasteless; it does have a bit of a sourdough-like flavor. (The strong flavor that people associate with rye bread is not from the flour, it’s caraway seeds.)
Rye flour is gluten free. It “softens” your flour reducing the amount of gluten in your dough. Our bread flour is about 12% protein (gluten) and we want 10% in our pizza dough. So we add a little rye flour.
(We also use dough relaxer in our pizza dough to relax the gluten and make the dough soft and easy to work with.)
You can use either white or dark rye flour. Dark rye flour is like whole wheat flour. The bran is sifted out of dark rye to make white rye flour.
If you are making bread with rye flour, don’t use over 40% rye. The rest must be wheat flour to provide the gluten to hold the bread together.
Recently we’ve discovered quinoa. It can be used in baking in both a flake and flour form. It blends well with other flours, has a mild taste, and is a super healthy addition to your baking.
If you would like to know more . . .
Get the free e-book, How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking. It’s 318 pages of culinary school information and recipes and is readable in multiple formats including Kindle.