Let's talk about whole wheat flours. There are 3 different kinds: Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat and Soft Wheat. In this picture I have wheat berries (those are what you mill up to make flour) of each of the 3 types.
Hard Red Wheat: This is the flour that you think of when you hear whole wheat. Some people think it has a slightly bitter taste (I am one of them), it has been the reason for many a baker to abandon whole wheat bread baking.
Hard White Wheat: Sometimes called "hard white spring wheat", white whole wheat has the same nutritional values as hard red wheat, but is missing the coloring in the outer shell. Since this can be where the bitter flavors come from, white whole wheat is both lighter in color and sweeter than hard red wheat. White wheat is perfect for bread making and can be used with some success for making things like cookies or brownies, although I prefer soft wheat for those.
Soft Wheat: Soft wheat is less gluten forming and is better suited for baking that does not require the formation of gluten like bread does. Soft wheat is my wheat berry of choice to grind for cakes, cookies, pastries, brownies, muffins, quick breads and biscuits.
When I first started out on my whole grain baking adventures I had no idea that there were different kinds of flours. I would pick up a bag of generic whole wheat, make some cookies and be so disappointed when they would turn out like bricks. Oh how things have changed!
I soon came to realize that there must be something wrong. I read everything I could find on the internet about whole wheat baking and I came up with my list of do's and don'ts.
- DO try to buy organic wheat berries to grind yourself. The nutritional content of freshly ground flour is so much better than what you can buy in the store. You can grind it as you need it and use it immediately.
- DO buy organic flour from a trusted source if you cannot mill your own berries. I think King Arthur Flour does a wonderful job with their flours as does Prairie Gold flours. My local stores carry both of these brands, as well as our own Oregon milled Bob's Red Mill flours.
- DO experiment with recipes. Not all recipes easily convert to whole wheat and may take some tinkering with.
- DON'T get frustrated if something doesn't turn out. Search online for a recipe that is already adapted for whole wheat and try it. If it isn't exactly what you are looking for, tweak it until it is.
- DON'T expect things to taste exactly like the store bought version. A whole wheat homemade Twinkie is not going to taste like the preservative filled alternative.
- DON'T give up! You can't get better unless you try, try and try again. Practice makes perfect.
Now with all of that said, go mill some flour so we can make brownies. Go on, I'll wait here for you.
Done? Me too! Let's get baking.
Now I can make some brownies!
Whole Wheat Brownies
2/3 cup shortening (I used 1/2 black bean puree this time)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups soft wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt the shortening and cocoa together and pour into a bowl. Add in the bean puree (if using), and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well in between each egg. Add in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir until just combined. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
These are not only tasty, they are fairly healthy for you. Sometime I'm going to try them out with bean puree and coconut oil for the shortening and see how they work out. Who knows, it could be my next best recipe!