Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ellen's Guide to Whole Wheat Baking

I'm going to be honest with you guys. I am suffering from a major bout of stomach flu today. I have been in my pajamas all day, curled in a fetal position in my bed clutching blindly to this:
Yep, tastes disgusting.
So it is hard to write about food today, but I must persevere. Inspired by Laura's recent struggles with whole wheat pizza dough as well as my recent success making an apple pie with whole wheat crust I thought I would share what I have learned through trial and error with you all.

Worth the price!
1. Use a high quality flour. In almost every case I am supportive of choosing the cheaper option, or the store brand. It wasn't until I purchased fancy whole wheat flour - it was on sale - that I realized all flour was not created equal. I really think that when it comes to whole wheat the brand makes a difference. Splurge on the good stuff (it is still pretty cheap) and stock up when it is on sale.  I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. I used to use Trader Joe's brand, but found their grind was too course. King Arthur's is extremely fine - basically feels like regular AP flour.

You will notice I recommend white whole wheat. Traditional whole wheat bread is milled from red wheat. White whole wheat comes from - you guessed it - white wheat! It has a milder flavor than red wheat due to a lack of phenolic compounds as well as a lighter color. Translation: you can trick people into eating whole wheat baked goods! The best part? It is nutritionally equivalent to traditional whole wheat flour.

Apple pie with 75% whole wheat crust
2. Don't be too ambitious if you are adapting a recipe. When "whole wheating" a recipe for the first time I usually replace 50% of AP flour with whole wheat. Go a 100% replacement and you are likely to have a mess on your hands. If 50% works well increase the ration the next time.

3. Wait. I read somewhere that because of the coarser grain whole wheat flour absorbs liquids at a slower rate than traditional flour. I have no idea if this is actually true, but I have taken to waiting a few minutes before mixing/kneeding. Can't hurt, right?

4. Pick your battles. Some things just aren't going to work. I'm not going to try to make a fluffy 3 layer cake with 100% whole wheat flour. I think baked goods tend to work better when there is a lot of other stuff at play. I have had success with carrot cake, oatmeal cookies, banana cake, zucchini bread,  etc. Sugar cookies were a big fail.

I will leave you with my pizza crust recipe, which I think is pretty good. Erik said he could eat the crust plain he liked it so much!

Quick Pizza Crust (makes one pizza crust the size of a cookie sheet)
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (plus more for kneeding)
1 envelope yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup very warm H2O
3 Tablespoons oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine flours yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water and oil and mix together. Gradually add up to 1 more cup of whole wheat flour, kneeding until elastic (3 or 4 minutes.) The dough will be sticky, but try not to add too much extra flour. Press dough onto greased cookie sheet. Add your toppings and sauce and cook for 12 - 15 minutes.

I haven't tried Leanne's trick of par baking the crust but I will be trying it for sure next time!
Erik wanted me to note that he chopped all of the veggies!
Do you guys think there are some things not worth trying to healthify? Something like cinnamon rolls comes to mind for me. Or spritz!

1 comment:

  1. Your pizza looks 100 million times better than mine. I am so jealous. I would be very interested in making ww cinimmon rolls. Have you ever tried ww bagels Ms. Leanne?