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).
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.