Are you petrified to make whole wheat bread because it becomes too dense and crumbles like a cookie? Does the fear of failure stop you from baking your own bread at home? Do you compromise on your loved one’s health and use all-purpose flour because you are not aware of the healthy ingredients used in baking bread.
After reading this article, you will never be scared to work with wheat flour as Plattershare shares the 5 absolutely essential tips and tricks which you should never miss while you bake with whole wheat grain flour. As Team Plattershare brings the experts who share their secret knowledge of successfully baking bread.
We recently conducted a live session on our Facebook page, where one of our Plattershare members and expert baker - Sonia Gupta, who runs her own baking blog Sonlicious, explained how to make bread at home with whole wheat as most of the home bakers are scared to bake using 100% wheat flour and thus end up compromising on health.
In case you missed this highly informative and useful session, here are the details which would answer most of your frequently asked questions like
- How do you prevent the whole wheat bread from becoming dense and crumbly?
- Why do baked goodies with 100% whole wheat bread feel so dry?
- Why do they not come out fluffy?
Let’s face it, working with whole wheat can be complex. That is why most of us either give up baking completely or compromise with the easy-to-use all-purpose flour. But if you understand few fine details of working with whole wheat, you will be surprised with the results. Here we list the top 5 tips while working with whole wheat -
The thought of eating healthy can be overwhelming. People tend to start their baking journey with 100% whole wheat, which is an absolute No-No. Whole wheat flour can prove to be a challenge even for experienced bakers, let alone beginners. Start with a small portion of whole wheat while baking for the first time. The ideal way to start is with 50% wheat flour and then gradually increasing the %age. For example, if you are baking bread for the first time with wheat then instead of using 100% wheat, start with 50% wheat and 50% all purpose flour. Once you understand the nature of dough with 50 % wheat, next time you can go for a 70% wheat flour recipe.
Start Gradually when working with whole grain flours
Do you remember, your mother and grandmother always used to sift the flour before kneading or using it for any other purpose? Sifting not only helps remove the unwanted particles from the flour but also helps aerate it. For those who are wondering what aerate means? It simply adds air to the flour, much like whisking, that helps in adding fluffiness to your baked items. This is an important step in baking, however, few bakers skip this. My advice is to sift the flour twice to get lighter and fluffier baked goods.
When baking with whole wheat flour, let the batter rest and hydrate before baking. Whole wheat flour contains both the bran and germ of wheat, which makes it coarse in texture. Actually, whole grain flour absorbs liquid more slowly than all purpose flour. Resting the batter or dough before baking gives the liquid a chance to hydrate the bran and germ and hence helps to soften it. Even if you feel the dough is over-sticky, there is no need to make any liquid adjustments. Just let the dough or batter rest before baking.
Sonia recalls one of her first experiences with whole wheat baking – One day when baking a batch of muffins with whole wheat, she baked 6 muffins immediately after preparing the batter. Then baked the rest of the muffins after the first batch came out. This gave the second batch about 20 minutes resting time. After baking both the batches, she was surprised to see that the muffins baked with the rested batter were far softer and more tender!
Additional liquid amount
Each flour weighs differently when measured in cups. For example, one standard cup of all-purpose flour weighs ~125gms whereas the same cup of whole wheat flour weighs ~135gms. Heavier flours require more water hence whole wheat flour needs more water than all-purpose flour. Probably the most frequent mistake in baking with whole wheat is not using enough water. If you are replacing all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in any particular recipe then increase the liquid content accordingly to avoid a dry, dense and crumbly result. Experts suggest adding two teaspoons of extra liquid on every cup of whole wheat flour. For example, if any recipe calls for 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 cup of water. You want to replace 2 cups of all purpose flour with 2 cups of whole wheat flour then you will have to increase the water amount as well. So, use 1 cup + 4 teaspoons (for 2 cups flour) of water.
Flours weigh differently, so liquid amount needs to be adjusted
Few Bakers usually replace all purpose flour with whole wheat flour without making any other changes to the recipe. It is not that simple! Every recipe needs some alterations if you are changing the base flour. Baking is more of a science than math. If you don’t make changes according to the flour used you will have to compromise the outcome. If you’ve never used whole-wheat flour before, try a recipe that already calls for whole-wheat flour since it’ll be more likely to turn out well than any experimental substitutions of whole-wheat flour over all-purpose flour. Just like Chocolate recipes are a great starting point as chocolate masks the flavor of wheat. You can try whole-wheat chocolate muffins to set the ball rolling!
Change your expectations
Most of us feel that whole wheat baking is not successful by looking at the texture of the bakes. Remember, the texture of all-purpose flour and whole wheat is always different. Whole wheat bakes are denser and heavier than all-purpose bakes. Whole wheat goods will also crumble more easily. Whole wheat flour ferments faster than all-purpose flour.
While these were expert advice along with tips, tricks, and secrets from Sonia about baking bread with whole wheat; here are a few bonus questions as well which were asked during the session:
Q: Do wheat cakes taste like chapatti/roti?
A: If you're hesitant about the flavor of whole grains in your favorite recipes, try substituting orange juice for a small part of the liquid called for in the recipe. While it doesn't lend any flavor of its own, orange juice seems to temper the potentially stronger flavor of whole grains.
Q: Can I get a moist and spongy texture with the multigrain mixture as well?
A: Two things to remember while working with multigrain - First, sift the flour twice and second, let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes before baking.
Q: I go for eggless cakes and cookies but it becomes quite difficult to replace the egg in every recipe. How do I solve this problem?
A: It is completely dependent on the recipe. Egg replacement can be suggested by looking at the recipe and the ingredients used.
Q: But eggs serve varied functions depending on the recipe. How do I understand that part? For example, in some recipes eggs are binders where as in some eggs just give texture.
A: If the question is around macaroons and meriquin, then the replacement of eggs in these recipes is aquafaba. In these recipes, you typically use almond flour, not wheat or all-purpose flour. Other than these, if you are talking about cakes, cookies or muffins the eggs can be replaced with fresh yogurt, milk + vinegar or condensed milk.
Q: Any sugar alternatives that go better with whole wheat flour in cakes
A: Palm sugar, organic brown sugar, Jaggery powder or Apple sauce. All these go well with wheat flour.
Q: If using multi grain for bakes, are there any other tips?
A: In the multi grain flour, other grains excluding wheat are weak in gluten and hence absorb a lot of water/liquid
Q: Does oil make cakes moister than butter/ghee?
A: If you need to refrigerate your cake, oil is best, butter will make it hard during refrigeration.
Q: Any temperature or time changes when baking with whole wheat?
A: Not at all. Go as per the timings mentioned in the recipe.
Q: What about baking powder and soda?
A: The quantity of baking powder and soda shall remain same irrespective of the flour used
If you missed the session or have any other questions on baking that you would like to ask, please write your question in the comments section below and we will be happy to answer your queries.
Team Plattershare will conduct many more live sessions in the future, where readers and home-chefs can interact with experts and each other varied topics. If you would like us to take some particular topic, leave a comment here in the ments section below.
About the Author: Sonia, the founder of Sonlicious, is known for her experimental healthy baking recipes on YouTube channel and her own food blog. She enjoys developing recipes, food writing, reviewing products and restaurants, and has recently started writing recipe books. She is on her mission of transforming Home Makers into Home Bakers and achieves this through her Healthy Baking Workshops. She also loves featuring renowned influencers in the food world on her blog. You can follow her on: Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blog