The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trying to figure out whole grain substitutions for flour...

MTmom2's picture

Trying to figure out whole grain substitutions for flour...

Hi, all!

I just got a Komo grain mill (LOVE IT!) and now I'm trying to figure out what grains to use for the flours that I'm used to.  I have Prairie Gold white whole wheat berries and soft wheat berries (along w/kamut & spelt).  So far I've been using a 40/60 soft wheat/white whole wheat berries to replace AP flour.  What would I use for a recipe that calls for bread flour?  What would work for whole wheat pastry flour...the soft wheat berries? 

I appreciate any thoughts and suggestions!


Janetcook's picture

Hi MTmom,

Glad to see it arrived :-)

When a recipe calls for bread flour I use the hard white whole wheat. hard red ww or Kamut.  ( If it is a free standing loaf I use no more than 25% of Kamut along with hard wheat as it tends to be very elastic and won't hold it's shape.)

For AP flour I use 40/60  hard white to soft white which is the opposite of what you are doing if I am reading your #'s correctly.

I will sometimes use all hard ww for AP too.  Just depends on what I am making.  

The soft ww I use for cakes, cookies, pancakes etc. and things that call for pastry flour but these home ground grains aren't going to be like what you have bought in the store....

If you are not used to baking with whole grains I really suggest baking breads using PR's 'Whole Grain Breads' starting with his Master formula.  The loaves in that book will show you how to create really soft and tasty loaves using your grains and you will get a good feel for the difference in hydration.  Whole grains need more water and a lot of soaking time to release the flavor to it's fullest my opinion :-)  Plus it helps with the phytic acid so that is doesn't interfere with digestion...

Once you understand what he is doing - converting the recipes you find in other places using 'store bought flour' is a snap and your results will be much better than if you just try substituting your flour for theirs.

Happy Baking,


MTmom2's picture


Thank you so much for your response!  I have a copy of PR's Whole Grain Breads that I've skimmed.  Apparently I need to do more than that!  I have a couple of other books too so once I actually sit down and read them I'll have plenty of material to figure all this out. (The other thing I've figured out from this forum and the time I've spent on this so far is....if there was ever a topic that is ripe for overthinking, this is it!)

I forgot to reference you in the original post b/c the AP substitution I've been using is what you recommended in an earlier post (I got my description backwards so what I'm using is what you're using). 

Do you use spelt much?  One thing I read seemed to consider kamut and spelt pretty interchangeably. 

The thing I keep reminding myself is that it is okay to experiment!  What's the worse that could happen...a failure makes for a good store and a success makes for something to eat!


Janetcook's picture


That beginner's fear is something else.....the worst that can happen is exactly what you stated but what I found out was that what I considered failures weren't......others loved the loaves - even the flat ones I called my 'frisbee' loaves due to being so flat.  Some people like a little slice of bread.  Now there are loaves that I have 'perfected' yet my family prefers the same loaf in it's 'failure' form!

The biggest plus from mistakes is learning from them which is where this forum comes in handy.  I never knew why my ww loaves were turning out like bricks or how to remedy it.  Now I know and that is huge in my book!

Take notes as you go.  They will be a good guide to what went right or wrong.

I can't eat the breads I bake so I go by the recommendations of others that I do bake for.  I primarily use hard white whole wheat as the base in about 90% of what I bake. 

If I am following a recipe that uses spelt I follow it as stated.  If I am just adding it because 'I want to' I use it with the www or with rye.  (MiniOven stated somewhere that 'rye likes spelt'.)

Spelt acts differently then Kamut - needs less water and is more delicate than Kamut.  I am told that they have different flavors.

For just getting started I would recommend sticking with one grain until you familiarize yourself with it and how it behaves throughout the process of grinding, mixing, fermenting, baking and then eating...then have fun 'accenting' it with other grains - one at a time and see what happens.  Keep track of the % of the alternate grain you are adding....maybe start out with 24% new grain/75% what you are familiar with.

Before you know it you will know what you like and why.  

Biggest help for me was baking with the recipes in WGB and baking daily so I could put into action what I was reading.  Once I had that strong base down I moved out into baking loaves displayed here on TFL by bakers who bake with whole grains.  (Hanseata, PiPs and Txfarmer to name just a few....)

Enjoy Yourself :-)