Good Question: Substituting White Whole Wheat Flour?

Good Question: Substituting White Whole Wheat Flour?

Emma Christensen
May 20, 2009

Here's a question from Kitchen reader Cara about working with whole wheat white flour in her baking:

At what ratio should white whole wheat flour be substituted for regular whole wheat? What about white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour? Is the best way to substitute by weight 1 for 1?

Great question, Cara!

First, let's refresh our memories on how we get white whole wheat flour to begin with. Regular whole wheat flour and white all-purpose flour are both made from red wheat berries, which gives regular whole wheat its characteristic tan color. On the other hand, white whole wheat flour is made from white wheat berries. These berries don't contain that red pigment, so the resulting whole wheat flour is light in color.

The biggest advantage in using white whole wheat is in its flavor. Regular whole wheat can taste nutty and somewhat tannic, which some people love and others find off-putting. Flour milled from white wheat berries is much more mild-tasting and doesn't have any of that astringent "whole wheat flavor." This makes it a great choice for people who want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat but without the taste.

When substituting white whole wheat flour in recipes, it's important to remember that it is still a whole wheat - meaning it contains the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. This can pose some special challenges in certain baking recipes since whole wheat flours don't develop gluten as readily and can tend toward heaviness in the final product.

In recipes already containing whole wheat, white whole wheat can be substituted one for one. If you'd like to substitute white whole wheat for regular all-purpose flour, start off by substituting white whole wheat for half of the flour and see how you like the result before adjusting the ratio further.

Does anyone have experience baking with whole wheat white flour? What's your advice?


Related: What's the Difference: Cake Flour, Pastry Flour, All-Purpose Flour, and Bread Flour

(Images: King Arthur Flour and Flickr member .j.e.n.n.y. licensed under Creative Commons)

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