Whole wheat flour contains almost four times more fibre than all purpose flour (maida) and is rich in other vitamins and minerals too. Traditionally, in most baking recipes all purpose or white flour is used. The result is generally softer and lighter textured goods when compared to the same item baked with whole wheat flour.
Over the past couple of years, health conscious people have started realising the importance of whole grains in the diet, and hence the popularity of baking goods with whole wheat flour has been on the rise. There are many varieties of whole wheat breads available in the market, but baking bread or other products at home with whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour still remains tricky.
Though using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour may not result in exactly the same texture, with practice and some easy tricks you can easily bake delicious and healthy breads and cakes with whole wheat flour.
In the beginning, do not replace all purpose flour with whole wheat flour completely. Instead, start with substituting 50% white flour with whole wheat flour for breads. For pastries and cakes using 50% whole wheat pastry flour (available in supermarkets) and 50% all purpose flour is the best way to ensure that texture and taste is not compromised.
Goods baked with whole wheat flour tend to be denser, so incorporating more air in your dough is very important. When baking breads a technique known as ‘Sponging’ helps to incorporate more air in breads.
A sponge is where half the flour is mixed with yeast and allowed to ferment for a few hours until bubbles start to form.
This dough (it has batter like consistency) is then mixed with the remaining flour and fermented again. Bread resulting from this technique is softer and tastes better than whole wheat bread baked without sponging.
For soft textured whole wheat bread, you can also add Vital Wheat Gluten (available in supermarkets) to the bread dough.
Another important thing to get right is the temperature of water that is used with the yeast. When you add water to the yeast, it must be warm enough to make the yeast react, but not too warm or it will kill it.
Add in Yummy Extras
For cakes and muffins, adding fruit puree along with whole wheat flour helps to create more flavourful and wonderfully textured goodies.
Watch the Liquid Ration
Last but not the least, keep an eye on the liquid to flour ratio in all baked goods including cakes, cookies and breads. Whole wheat flour absorbs liquid at a different rate than regular all purpose flour. Add additional flour and liquid in small portions only so that you can watch how it is being absorbed.
Whole wheat dough will also be slightly sticky, so let the dough rise twice before shaping it into bread or a bun.
As they say cooking is an art, but baking is a science. Baking requires careful measurements, following the precise sequence of ingredients and the right temperature. So if you keep a keen eye on all three, you too can bake healthy goodies with whole wheat at home.
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