Whole Wheat vs White Flour Baking (post contains affiliate links).
As you know, my husband is a cook and I am a dietitian. An interesting thing about cooks is that they are great at cooking regular foods. However, they’re often not so good at baking. This is because when a chef creates something in the kitchen, it’s a little bit of that and a little bit of this. In other words, the amounts aren’t exact.
This Does Not Work so Well in Baking
For example, when baking a quick bread, it’s important to carefully measure the flour as well as use the correct tools, including the appropriate measuring cups. You should NEVER use a glass Pyrex-style measuring cup to measure dry ingredients. (See first picture above). This is because you need to be able to flatten the top of the cup. (See third picture above). You can’t do this with a glass measuring cup, so you’ll end up with an approximate amount which you don’t want when baking a high-quality product. You should always use a dry measuring cup to measure dry ingredients. For example, cups similar to the ones in the second two pictures, for greatest accuracy. Personally I believe you should sift the flour prior to measuring as well for the lightest product. Another important thing to remember is that if you just dip the measuring cup into the flour instead of scooping it/spooning it into the cup, you will most likely end up with too much flour and a heavier product.
Whole Wheat Vs White Flour Baking
This becomes even more crucial when you are using whole wheat flour. When you exchange all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, I highly recommend you weigh the flours. For example. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour and you want to exchange it with whole wheat flour:
- Weigh 1 cup of the all purpose flour.
- Rather than measure out the whole wheat flour, simply weigh it until you get the amount you need. The amount will be slightly different, and most of the time the whole wheat flour will be heavier.
My husband has been a bit stubborn about paying attention to me when I try to explain this to him. As a result, he has created less than delicious baked goods time and time again. When we first got married, Ron was using glass measuring cups to measure his dry ingredients. Not only that, but he was using the dip method. So, of course, when I asked him to switch the all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour, he ended up with a flat, heavy, not so tasty product.
He began using the correct tools. However, he has not been exact in his measurements. So, after years of him making inferior baked products, I finally convinced my husband to actually weigh four different flours so he could see for himself what I was talking about.
As my husband was conducting this little experiment yesterday, it occurred to me that this is an example of true science. Observing the evidence rather than depending on another person’s word is what science is all about. 🙂
I highly recommend you do this with your kids (or husband) or some other lucky person so that you can teach them a thing or two about baking.
So, back to the experiment. Ron carefully measured and weighed 1 cup each of four different kinds of flour:
- All-Purpose Enriched Flour
- White Whole Wheat Flour
- Stone Ground Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- Stone Ground Whole Wheat Regular Flour
The results are in and even I am surprised by the results.
Ron used the standard scientific method including using my handy-dandy FREE scientific method sheet found here.
Here is the results of our experiment:
All-purpose enriched flour – 124 grams
White whole wheat flour – 120 grams
Stone ground whole wheat pastry flour – 129 grams
Stone ground whole wheat regular flour – 134 grams
I was shocked to realize that the white whole wheat flour is actually LIGHTER than the all-purpose flour. I would never have guessed this!
This is SUCH a good example of how important actual observation is when forming a conclusion.
So, to sum it up:
- When baking, if you carefully measure and use the correct tools, you will be much more likely to create a high quality finished product.
- When switching out all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, if you weigh the flour rather than measure it, you are more likely to get a satisfactory product.
- White whole wheat flour (this is simply another type of wheat) is actually lighter than all-purpose flour, and thus, is an excellent substitute for all-purpose flour.
- When you use white whole wheat flour, you will get more fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6 as well as any phytonutrients that are removed in the all–purpose flour.
Thus, you now know one of the secrets of high-quality whole wheat vs white flour baking.
In case you interested in going a little deeper into this subject, I did an internet search to see what else was out there. I found an awesome website (see below) that goes into detail as well as discusses another variable–how the brand you are using can also affect the weight of the flour.