Just because you want to nutritional benefits of working with whole wheat flour doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the light and fluffy texture that so pleases the palate. There are some fabulous options that you can enjoy with the different types of wheat that are available!
I’ll never forget the first time I attempted to make whole wheat bread. Though it sure did smell good when it was cooking baking, eating it was a whole ‘nother story. It was so heavy and dense that my husband and I jokingly set it in front of a door and referred to it as our doorstop—that is until I thought about all of those starving varmints that might desire it for other purposes. Thud! It went into the trash. With my limited knowledge I thought that this heaviness was just how it was when one wanted the healthy nutrients of whole wheat bread. Little did I know that cooking with the right ingredients made all the difference in the world, but even more importantly, I hadn’t yet discovered whole wheat grain that I could purchase known as “white wheat.”
When I see the big bags or buckets of wheat grains they usually contain the Winter Red Wheat.. So that’s what I always purchased for years. Since it’s a winter wheat, it’s really hearty as it’s grown in more harsh conditions. I had just assumed that whether I was making pancakes, rolls, bread, or cookies I would just have to learn to like the hearty, heavier texture. I mistakenly assumed that any “white” flour was void of all of the good nutrients because it was “white” due to all of the processing and bleaching that it underwent prior to making its way to the grocery store shelves. But my baking options all changed the day that I discovered that I could still store whole wheat for centuries without having to learn to exclusively enjoy the heavy-handed baking. You see, there is such a thing as Soft White Wheat and comes in 20-50 pound bags and buckets just like your Hard Red Wheat but the Soft White Wheat is what is most commonly used for the lighter baking options such as rolls, cookies, and biscuits and other light and buttery baked goods. I can store plenty of both and use each kind independently of each other or blend them together along with the proper leavening tools. Either way, I no longer have to sacrifice quality nutrients or shelf-life stability. (What are the different types of wheat? Well, there are several kinds of wheat which use a variation of Soft, Hard, White, Red, Durum, as well as Winter and Spring. The grocery industry refers to them differently than does Wall Street but we’re not going to get into all of that today.)
The white and soft wheats have a lighter color, with starchy kernels and a more fluffy texture after grinding; this is the wheat that’s most commonly used for the cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and pastries. Whereas the Hard and Red types are usually reserved for bread due to it’s higher percentage of gluten—which is also why you don’t need to use wheat gluten when making traditional whole wheat bread, but you DO need it if you’re making bread with older flour or the White and Soft types of wheat.
The Soft White Wheat berries will sprout just like any other whole grain or seed and I’ve found that I enjoy a hot breakfast made of a combination of the white and red wheat berries much more than the traditional hearty red berries alone.
I don’t know if you’ve run into this before but I’ve had a bit of a challenge getting the youngin’s to enjoy the hearty Hard Red Wheat bread as much as the typical white flour that they’re used to. But when I switch it up to making bread or pancakes from the Soft White Wheat, I have much better success with the picky eaters. I prefer Durum to make my homemade pastas but you can just as easily accomplish a good pasta, spaetzel, or dumplings with the soft white wheat. I also make a yummy whole wheat cracker from the Hard Red Wheat, but I can play around with more subtle tastes such as cheese and garlic and have the tastes more pronounced when I make the crackers with the Soft White Wheat.
Of course you’ll still want to stick to the standards of quality when purchasing the Soft White Wheat—Grade A, and make sure you’re getting the most recent year’s harvest. But you won’t have any problem storing it the very same way you store your Hard Red Wheat. And keep in mind that it’s best to keep it in its whole grain form until you’re ready to use it. When you expose the flour to oxygen then it’s naturally occurring Vitamin E oil will be exposed and turn rancid. Also, know that the Soft White Wheat takes on the smell of its packaging (such as the #10 cans), so if you open it up and it smells a bit like the can it’s been stored in, just let it aerate for about 8 hours by spreading it out on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once aerates it will be just fine.
Hopefully this will help you solve any dilemmas with taste and texture. Now, I’m off to go and try my hand at making some dark rye bread in which I’ll use the soft white wheat I just ground. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Oh, and by the way, even if you’re working exclusively with the Hard Red Wheat, you still don’t need to sacrifice taste and texture. Check out my 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe. (The breadsticks are super duper yummy too.) I’ve even had several readers use this recipe to enter their local fair and win the coveted blue ribbon! Enjoy!
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