The difference between whole wheat pastry flour & whole wheat flour

drawing of the whole grain kernel

I love to bake and have a demanding sweet tooth. This is a dangerous combination for my derriere, as well as the diabetic prone gene pool from whence my chromosomes sprouted. In my quest to satisfy my sweet tooth and keep less junk in my trunk, I have come across a fabulous solution, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.


What is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?

I generally call whole wheat pastry flour, pastry flour so as not to get tripped up and confused with the various names. However, when you buy it, it must say whole wheat pastry flour, as there is white pastry flour as well (which has been extremely refined and is often known as “cake flour”).

There are many varieties of wheat berries. Pastry flour is ground from the soft wheat berry which contains more carbohydrates and less gluten and protein (than the hard wheat berry that is typically known as whole wheat). However, like whole wheat, pastry flour is ground using the entire wheat berry (germ and bran still intact) yet does not impart a “wheaty” or “tannic” flavor (like whole wheat).

It is a fabulous replacement for all-purpose flour in cookies, quick breads, cakes, muffins, pancakes and waffles.


 Tips for cooking with Pastry Flour:

1.  Start small. If your family isn’t used to whole wheat flour then substitute whole wheat pastry flour for a quarter of the all-purpose flour that is called for in a recipe. Increase the amount over time. In waffles, muffins and cookies don’t hesitate to completely substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all of the flour called for.

2.  Whole wheat pastry flour is not as fine as white all-purpose flour and is slower to absorb the liquid in a recipe because of the fiber it contains. So, when using it to replace some or all of the flour in a recipe, let the dough sit for about 30 minutes before baking. This isn’t always possible with things like pancakes or waffles, so I give these as much time as we can stand before starvation sets in. However, with something like chocolate chip cookies, I just put the dough in the fridge for half an hour or so before cooking.

3.  Because whole wheat pastry flour absorbs a bit more liquid you might want to experiment a bit with your recipes and add a bit less flour or a touch more liquid. I find this to be especially true when substituting whole wheat flour, but it seems to be less necessary with the whole wheat pastry flour.


Storing Whole Wheat Flour:

 One of the reasons why whole wheat flour has a strong and sometimes bitter flavor, is because “as soon as the germ is cracked open and exposed to air during the milling process, the oil in it begins to oxidize, turn rancid and taste bitter.”

The best way to ward off rancidity is to treat flour as a perishable item and immediately store the unopened bag in a zipper type plastic bag in the fridge or freezer. Take out what you need about 15 minutes before using and return the rest to the fridge or freezer. *This is not necessary for white flour unless you are in an area that is warm and prone to weevils.


For the freshest flour

If you have a Vitamix grinding your own flour is a cinch. Just make sure to purchase the soft wheat berries for whole wheat pastry flour. You’ll need the dry container for grinding flour. Just follow their instructions and you’ll be grinding your own flour in no time.


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  1. Semi accurate comments on germ. It does go rancid as it contains fat, takes 6 mos or more to go rancid under proper storage.
    The bitterness, often desirable, is 100% from the bran and it’s components. Dark wheat (red winter or Spring) have more intense flavor than lighter white wheat varieties. Pastry flour is available in both whole wheat and white versions, taste and purpose apply!

  2. I’m googling subbing white whole wheat flour for whole wheat pastry flour. For non-WW flours, I see you can replace 2tbsp AP flour with 2tbsp cornstarch to create faux pastry flour. Is this worth a shot with whole wheat? Or should I just resign myself to making apple dumplings later?

  3. Can I use the whole grain pastry flour in place of whole grain flour in baking a loaf of bread

  4. I know this is an old thread, so I hope I get a response. I’m trying to bake a pound cake that normally calls for 3 cups of Cake Flour or All purpose flour. I want to switch to a healthier option. I’ve already tried 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 Cake Flour. The cake turned out really thick and did not rise as it normally does (the taste was fine). Should I try WW Pastry flour? Or should I try using baking powder. I’d like it to be lighter and actually rise.

    • Cake flour is ultra light, soft and gluten-y so the entire recipe needs to be altered to come up with a desirable outcome. To save time, product, and headache, I’d recommend finding a recipe that already incorporates some whole wheat pastry flour. King Arthur flour has a lot of great whole grain recipes, and their recipes are always good.

  5. Alissa Price says

    perfect! i feel very confident in making my thanksgiving banana nut bread the clean way!

  6. Ruth Manderson Hoernig says

    Fantastic and informative…just what I was asking about. Thank you!

  7. Totally needed this! Thank you!

  8. GenieBeanieChiliBeanie says

    Excellent – thank you!

  9. Pioneerchild says

    The word “it’s” can only be a contraction of the words “it” and “is.” “It’s” never means the possessive form of the word “it.”

    I hope you’ll appreciate this reminder. 🙂

    • Good catch! Thanks!


    • Shellibelle says

      Wow. This blogger provides a wealth of great info for free, yet someone soared to the height of ignorance with her over an apostrophe. If it bothers you that much, just hit the Back button next time instead of being a jerk.

      I hope you’ll appreciate this reminder. 😣

  10. Tweeti73 says

    Thank you!!!  I used the WW flour ‘cuz the grocery store I go to doesn’t carry the WW pastry flour, which a recipe called for.  The cookies turned out dense but it was still delicious.  Thanks for the explanation, again!  Will check the health food store next time.

  11. I’ve never heard of gmo wheat. I thought It has never been approved and is not grown anywhere in the world. Am I wrong.

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