I have a friend who makes three loaves of bread for her family each week. They love this homemade bread; but it’s made with refined all-purpose flour, and she’d like to learn how to substitute whole wheat flour for at least part of her recipe. Have you ever wondered how to replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for all or part of the refined flour in your recipes? It’s a good question.
When we think about substituting whole wheat flour, there are a few things to consider.
Why substitute whole wheat flour for refined all-purpose flour?
- It’s higher in fiber. Whole wheat flour provides a little over 12 grams of fiber per cup, while all-purpose flour contains a little over 3 grams per cups. We all could use a little more fiber in our diets. According to the USDA, Americans consume about 16 grams of fiber daily. Yet, the recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 to 38 grams per day.
- Higher fiber intakes may help reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and help control blood sugar if you already have diabetes.
- Products made with whole wheat flour are more filling, and keep you full longer than their refined flour counterparts, potentially aiding in weight management.
- It’s flavorful. Regular whole wheat flour imparts a nutty, deeper flavor to the finished product. White whole wheat flour has a lighter flavor.
How you substitute whole wheat flour for refined flour in your recipes depends on what you’re making, your taste preferences, and the type of whole wheat flour you use. The three I use the most are whole wheat flour (usually stoneground), white whole wheat flour, and whole wheat pastry flour.
If you are ready to try substituting whole wheat flour for refined, all-purpose flour you will need to know more about your options. Here’s a rundown on the three types I mentioned above and how I go about using them in my recipes.
Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour is produced from hard red wheat berries, which gives it a darker color and nuttier flavor. It makes a heavier, denser product and you may need to work with the amount of liquid needed in the recipe as well, adding a tablespoon or so to the dough for added moisture. It also helps to let the dough rest after mixing it, and before kneading it (if it’s a yeast bread), to give the whole wheat flour more time to absorb the moisture.
Start out by replacing 1/3 of the total amount of flour listed in your recipe with whole wheat flour. The next time try substituting it for half of the flour listed, and keep increasing little by little each time you make it till you find the ratio of whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour that you prefer.
I’ve used whole wheat flour in yeast breads, quick breads (like this Chocolate Zucchini Bread), muffins, pizza dough, and cookies with good success. It’s a good choice when you want a product that’s a little heavier and chewier, with a deeper flavor.
White whole wheat flour
White whole wheat flour is made from hard white wheat berries. It has a lighter color and a milder flavor. When changing a recipe to use white whole wheat flour I usually begin by replacing half of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. The second time I substitute 2/3 or 3/4 of the refined flour, and keep increasing the ratio each time I make it till I have a product I’m satisfied with.
This is the flour I’d start with if your family isn’t used to having items made with whole wheat flour. The end product will be a little denser than with refined flour, but lighter than regular whole wheat flour.
It works well in yeast or quick breads, muffins, cookies, brownies, or pizza dough. I’ve used it in several recipes, including Zucchini Bread with Dark Chocolate and Dried Cherries, Raspberry Muffins, and Zucchini Bread with Blueberries and Lemon.
Whole wheat pastry flour
Whole wheat pastry flour is produced from soft white wheat berries. It is also lighter in color, flavor, and texture. I usually start by replacing half the refined white flour with whole wheat pastry flour and continue increasing that amount each time I make that particular recipe.
It has less protein (gluten) than regular whole wheat or white whole wheat flours, and works well in a variety of baked goods, like muffins, pie crust, brownies, cookies, quick breads, cakes, etc. Because of its lower protein content, use in baked goods requiring yeast is not recommended.
This is my favorite flour to use for muffins and quick breads, like these Blueberry Oat Muffins. The end product has a more tender crumb and lighter flavor than those prepared with whole wheat or white whole wheat flour.
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Using whole wheat flour in your recipes isn’t too difficult. Use the guidelines above as a starting point and work from there. Before you know you’ll be on your way to making healthier, more nourishing baked goods for your family.