The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wholemeal flour - Is it really whole wheat flour?

Shelaghb's picture
Shelaghb

Wholemeal flour - Is it really whole wheat flour?

Hello everybody,

 

I'm a newbie that is very much interested in bread making. I have a particular question about wholemeal flour. When my sis and I are in the UK, we buy and eat Wholemeal bread - which is delicious! My sis has problems eating whole wheat bread in the US, but no problem with Wholemeal bread at all. I'm unable to find wholemeal flour anywhere. Now I'm wondering if Wholemeal is just the UK term for Whole wheat. Can anybody tell me if that's true?

 

Thanks so much for your help!

 

Shelagh

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng



Jim

sphealey's picture
sphealey

When I was young I read a lot of British popular fiction, which came in handy later on when I had a lot of fun acting as a "translator" between my US and UK coworkers. It is amazing how difficult it can be for the two nations to communicate.

 

Yes, nominally "UK wholemeal" = "US whole wheat".

 

But then you have to put on your cultural translation hat as well, and realize that the US went to commerically-produced low-nutritional-value bread much earlier than Europe and the UK - by the 1940s in most places. Most US commerical machine-made "whole wheat" bread will not resemble anything like a UK wholemeal from a traditional bakery (although I understand plenty of bad machine-made bread is now sold in the UK as well).

 

If there is a Panera (aka St. Louis Bread Company) near you have her try their whole wheats (they have both sourdough and yeast) and see if she likes those.

 

sPh

Shelaghb's picture
Shelaghb

Hi Jim and sph,

 

Thanks so much for your speedy replies. Actually, my sis says whole wheat bread (as puchased in the US) tears up her stomach.  So , if I'm going to make whole wheat bread, do you have any suggestions as to which type of flour to use?

I'm not averse to making bread from scratch, but I'm currently making bread in the machine, and get much better results using bread machine flour, as opposed to regular flour. I make a wonderful nut and seed loaf that everybody raves about and I would love to make it more healthful, which started me looking for this flour.

 

We live in NC and I don't think I've seen a Panera anywhere around here.

Shelaghb

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> So , if I'm going to make whole wheat bread, do

> you have any suggestions as to which type of flour to use?

 

My first thought would be King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat. Around here (Midwest) the supermarkets sell it in 2 lb. bags (but I know the grocery market in NYC is a bit weird compared to the rest of the country) and it can be ordered from KA in the 2 and 5 lbs.

 

After that I would try Bob's Red Mill Organic, and then the suppliers listed at the back of Leader's _Bread Alone_ (the book was published in 1993 but I have found most of the suppliers are still in business; unfortunately most of them also mill nuts so I can't use them personally). Or you could run up to the Bread Alone in Old Reinbeck and ask to buy some flour; that is what Leader does all over the world ;-)

 

Others please correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that the three main wheat-producing areas of the world are north-central North America, Argentina, and Ukraine/Russia. And that most of the organic wheat on the world market comes from North America, particuarly Montana. So the organic wheat, if not necessarily the flour, you buy in the US may well be the same used to make the bread you ate in Europe and the UK.

 

sPh

sphealey's picture
sphealey

PS Jon Testor, newly elected United States Senator from Montana, is an organic wheat farmer!  Wonder if he bakes bread?

 

sPh

Shelaghb's picture
Shelaghb

Hi spb,

 

Thanks for the info. Actually, I'm in North Carolina.:) I think I'll give King Arthur flour a try. I've seen it at the health food stores and also at regular grocery stores, so it's fairly easy to find. I imagine it might be fresher at health food stores, because people know it's better?

 

I stand corrected about not having a Panera anywhere near us. There's a shop in Hendersonville/Asheville that we'll have to ck out.

 

Shelaghb

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Sorry - I misread NC as NYC. Bit of a difference, even for a midwesterner!

 

Since about 1990, when general people started buying healthier foods (including flour), I have found that supermarket flour is a fresh or fresher than anywhere else - they do the highest volume and have policies about turning the stock. Even our local discount supermarket chain now has a huge organic/healthy section. YMMV.

 

sPh

 

Shelaghb's picture
Shelaghb

Hi sph,

 

Good point about supermarkets. Plus it's probably a lot cheaper than the health food store.:)

 

"YMMV" Your mileage may vary?

 

Shelaghb

sphealey's picture
sphealey

YMMV = "your milage may vary", the tag line added to auto ads in the US during the 1970s. Usage dates from the early days of Usenet (nee netnews).

 

But even my European friends use the word "milage", and I thought it was standard usage in the UK?

 

sPh

 

Technically of course the complete measure of automobile fuel efficiency in the UK would be miles/litre/stone, the last term referring to passenger-carrying capacity in stone weight!

 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Ah Ashville. How I love that city. I lived in Winston-Salem, NC for about a decade -- from college through my first journalism job, with a long 2-year absence in between -- and my then-fiancee and I drove up to Asheville as often as we could.

KAF is pretty common nowadays, and their whole wheat flour is the best I've used. But then again, I live in New England where King Arthur is essentially the region's official baking products manufacturer.

I've read that there are a ton of artisan bakeries in and around Asheville that bake using nothing but whole-wheat flour. I know that Peter Reinhart mentioned some on his blog. Here's a link to the entry I'm thinking about. Perhaps there are some bakeries you might want to investigate!

Shelaghb's picture
Shelaghb

Hi JMonkey,

 

I don't know that much about Asheville bakeries yet, having recently moved here from Calif. but will be spending more time exploring there as the weather improves. Asheville appears to be very much like Berkeley, which I really miss a lot.

 

I'm embarassed to say I'm not familiar with Peter Reinhart but I enjoyed that link you gave me. I'm getting the idea that this is a real community of bread making enthusiasts!

 

Thanks again,

 

Shelaghb

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I'm so glad that someone asked this question as I've been wondering about this myself as well and was about to post the same question. Am I correct to believe that  wholemeal bread and wholewheat bread are the same which I simply refer  to as brown bread?   I purchased a bag of King Arthur Wholewheast flour very rcently which I found is finely ground flour without any wheat bran flakes which is very different from the Hovis brand wholemeal flour that I have used in the past, which has plenty of wheat flakes, (I only chose Hovis as I've lived the UK and kow that they're famous for their wholewheat bread).  I'm a little confused whether it would make a difference to the breads when using the different flours.  Would it perhaps require more water and would the bread be more dense when using flour with tiny bran flakes as opposed to the finely ground wwf? When I follow a US recipe referring to wwf, would it be ok to use wholemeal flour instead?  Thanks


Judy


 

JustJoeAKABeans's picture
JustJoeAKABeans

     If you have a Sams club or Costco you belong to be aware that King Aurthur Flours are milled by Conagra, Conagra is one of the nations biggest mills and actually mill King Aurthur flours to their specifications.


     The wheat is the same, though I am sure KA has specific demands for their grinds, % or ash etc.I have used both and honestly have not noticed a difference in behavior. I live in CT and actually use many Kung Aurthur products, even go the store a couple times a year. Great stuff, just be aware there are some less expensive quality flours available.

coolkev's picture
coolkev

Shelagh,


You can purchase "Irish-style" WholeMeal flour mail order from King Arthur. It comes in 3lb. packages. See www.kingarthurflour.com.


It's a courser grind that U.S. Whole Wheat ("more wheat flakes"). Makes great bread.


KA also has some recipes for Irish Brown Bread.


Kev


 

caj's picture
caj

Shelagh,

Try stone-ground spelt flour if you are experiencing difficulty in digesting wholewheat.

Spelt flour is a non-wheat flour although related to the wheat family.

caj