This post was originally published in February, 2011.
I want to take some time to address some of the many whole wheat flour questions I receive from those of you making the switch from white to brown. So many of you email me to say “I wish we liked whole wheat flour…we just don’t. What ideas do you have?” or “When I bake with whole wheat flour, my food often feels and tastes heavy and grainy. My kids won’t eat it.” or “Laura, you look really good with flour in your hair, what’s your secret for getting it right there on your bangs?” Just kidding about that last statement. Thankfully.
My suggestion (and hear me out on this, because I think I know all of your arguments) is…okay actually I have two suggestions.
Switch to Whole Wheat Flour
- Use a Grain Mill to grind fresh flour.
- Use Hard WHITE Wheat.
Here’s the deal: I have NEVER liked store-bought whole wheat flour. Still don’t like it very much. The idea of switching to whole wheat flour to me was NOT appealing and I DIDN’T want to.
Until I had a piece of my friend’s bread made with freshly ground hard white wheat flour. That was all the evidence I needed.
I really didn’t believe her when she said that the bread was 100% whole wheat. It didn’t taste whole wheat. It didn’t look whole wheat. It didn’t feel whole wheat. Oh, but did it ever smell and taste good.
It was at that moment (after she answered more of my questions and after I talked it over with Matt of course) that I decided that I would save any extra money we had toward getting my own grain mill. The problem was…we had NO extra money to save toward a grain mill.
What I Did:
I started buying Hard White Wheat and letting my friend grind it for me. She was so sweet to do this, and it worked, but it certainly wasn’t convenient. I then began making these soft pretzels to sell at our local farmer’s market to save for my Nutrimill. It took just a few weeks before I had enough money saved. I ordered my Nutrimill right away! That was five years ago, and I’ve gotta say that saving up for and buying my Nutrimill was SUCH a great investment. My whole family thinks so.
Why Freshly Ground Flour Made from Hard White Wheat is Different (and tastes so good):
Well, fresh flour is…fresh. It’s amazing the difference in taste you’ll notice when you eat bread and other goodies made from flour that has been freshly ground. The whole wheat flour from the store is a little on the old side and is likely even to be rancid. It is usually often made from RED wheat.
Which leads me to my second point about why freshly ground flour from hard white wheat is different and tastes so good: White wheat is lighter in texture and color than red wheat. Whole wheat flour made from Hard White Wheat produces lovely bread, tortillas, pizza crust, muffins…everything you need flour for.
The Question of the Hour:
But Laura, doesn’t white wheat turn into white flour?
Ah, I didn’t get that at first either. But NO, it absolutely doesn’t. Hard White Winter Wheat is simply a different variety of grain. Hard Spring Red Wheat has the same nutritional value as Hard White Winter Wheat…but white wheat makes (in my opinion) a nicer and more palatable whole wheat flour.
I think you’ll notice a big difference.
(White flour that you buy at the store, by the way, is flour made by sifting out the bran and germ after the grain has been ground. This was originally done to give it a longer shelf life. Now, unless otherwise noted, the white flour is bleached to make it whiter. Yum.)
What Do I Suggest?
See if you can find someone who has a grain mill and will let you try out freshly ground flour made from hard white wheat. Hey, if you come over to my place, I’ll let you try some of mine! (I may even share my secret of getting flour in my hair.)
If you like it (the freshly ground flour…not the flour in my hair), I recommend doing a little something to save up for a grain mill. I love my Nutrimill!!! Here’s a video of me showing how to use the Nutrimill. I love Paula’s Bread as your go-to source for purchasing a Nutrimill. She offers great prices and offers wonderful customer service.
And…you may want to look into this online Bread Class offered by Lori. She teaches you to use freshly ground flour to make a perfect loaf of bread…and other great baked goods too! It’s a very helpful class!
Lastly…I will recommend that if you just aren’t able to grind fresh flour right now, try to find store bought whole wheat flour made from white wheat, labeled, White Whole Wheat. King Arthur has a nice variety. It’s not quite the same (because it isn’t fresh), but it’s the best store-bought flour I’ve used.
Those of you who’ve been grinding your own flour…share what you love about it! How were you able to make the investment to get a grain mill? Which is your favorite grain mill and wheat to grind?
(You’ll find more posts I’ve written about grinding grain, where I recommend getting grain, which grain I recommend and ALL kinds of grainy questions answered in this section!)
Disclaimer: No one here is going to force you to grind your own flour, eat white wheat or get flour in your hair. If you like flour make with red wheat, enjoy! If you can’t afford a grain mill, this is not a guilt trip. I’m just answering many readers’ questions. Hopefully you all found it helpful. And hopefully you are much cleaner bakers than I am. Not only is there flour in my hair, it is also on my kitchen floor and counter tops. I need to go clean my kitchen.