'Peanut Allergy Princess' is the story of one mom, one Princess with food allergies (to peanuts and brazil nuts) and our journey through the stress of life with food allergies. Here you will find many recipes, tips on living (and enjoying life) with food allergies, thoughts from a mother of 3 kids (The Brothers and The Princess) and insights into our life. Welcome!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How To: Use Whole Grains in Baking

A few weeks ago, I posted about whole grains of all kinds and all their benefits... which does no good if you don't know how to substitute them for white flour in your baking. So today, you will learn how to use them.

To start, let me just say to not be afraid of playing around with different flours. Failures are ok, I have had many of them myself. You will learn what types of grains you prefer in certain recipes by testing and trying things for yourself.  The things you will learn in this post are just guidelines but definitely not rules you have to follow.

When most people think of replacing white flour, they go right to wheat flour. And more often than not, they are left with a very dense product with a funky texture or something that resembles a brick. In case you didn't already know (which I didn't when I first started learning about whole grains), there are 3 different types of wheat flour: hard red wheat, hard white wheat and soft white wheat. Red wheat is what most people think of when they hear the word "whole wheat" - it is the strongest and heartiest tasting of the three varieties and what you find in the stores (labeled wheat flour). That isn't really a bad thing, but sometimes you don't want that dense, strong flavor. So, here you will learn about other options to replace white flour with rather than just "wheat" flour.

So, here we go!

Soft White Wheat and Hard White Wheat
Soft white wheat tastes very similar to white flour and has a light, fluffy texture.  It is definitely not as dense or strong tasting as red wheat. It is lower in protein than red wheat making it perfect for food that doesn't need to rise like cookies, cakes, quick breads, muffins etc. Higher protein flours are good for breads and rolls - basically anything that needs to rise. In that case, you would want to use hard white wheat. Soft white wheat can even be found in grocery stores now - it is labeled whole wheat pastry flour. Or you can mill your own with a grain mill. Just be sure to store it in the refrigerator or freezer after milling to keep all nutrients. 
Substitute 1 cup of white whole wheat (or hard white wheat) for 1 cup of white flour

Kamut has a yummy, buttery taste that is delicious! It is amazing in cookies (to add that yummy buttery taste without all the butter). It adds fiber and vitamins to cookies that is missed when white flour is used. Kamut is also yummy when used in pancakes and quick breads. It is not a good choice in foods that need to rise. You will need a high powered blender or grain mill to mill Kamut into flour. It can be purchased at a health food store or a company like Azure Standard (which is how I buy mine). Store in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve the nutrients and prevent the freshly milled flour from going bad. 
Substitute 1 cup Kamut for 1 cup white flour.

This is my new favorite grain! It is 60% higher in protein than wheat and contains all eight essential amino-acids. This grain is packed with B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber. It hasn't been hybridized or changed to make it grow faster or in more abundance like wheat - which is why it costs more. It can used in anything from pancakes, cookies, quick breads, and also breads and rolls that need to rise. It is very versatile. It bakes up lighter than wheat flour and has a yummy nutty flavor.You can find spelt flour at some health food stores, but the cheapest way is to buy it as a grain and mill it yourself (I also buy my spelt from Azure Standard).
Substitute 1 cup spelt flour for 1 cup white flour.

Wonder Flour
This flour is a blend of three grains. It was developed by Chef Brad. He is a professional baker who experimented for awhile until he came up with this amazing blend. It is perfect for anything that doesn't need to rise. It is lower in gluten and therefore doesn't work well for bread, rolls, breadsticks, etc. We love it in cookies, cakes, pancakes and waffles. Wonder flour is equal parts brown rice, barley, and spelt. 
How to make wonder flour: get yourself a big bowl and mix 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup barley and 1 cup spelt together. You can use as much as you want, just make sure you use equal parts of each grain (I usually use 4-5 cups of each to fill my big container). Put the mixture into a high powered blender or grain mill and grind into a flour. Store in the freezer or refrigerator to preserve nutrients.
Subtsitute 1 1/4 cup wonder flour for 1 cup white flour

A quick tip for making the best baked goods - do not over stir! This makes a big difference in the texture of the batter in quick breads, cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. It is a good thing for bread however as it develops the gluten and gives it the structure the dough needs to rise and maintain shape. For anything that doesn't need to rise, stir just enough to mix the dry ingredients with the wet.

If you are new to baking with whole grains, pick just one new grain to experiment with. Also, you can start by using 50% whole grains and 50% white flour as you slowly make the adjustment. 

Have fun in your baking and experimenting and enjoy your whole grains!


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