The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wheat Flour

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

Wheat Flour

I've been mucking about with whole wheat loaves for a while, but doing them all wheat has for the longest time basically meant winding up with a brick. Which can look very cool, but doesn't really satisfy the sandwich need.

Of course, most of the flour I tried...Pilsbury, Hodgson's Mill, etc. was really Graham Flour, which is very chunky, and while flavorful, has a very low gluten quotient. The only survivable way to make it into tolerable wheat bread was to do a 70/30 ratio of bread flour/wheat flour, or even higher on the bread flour side.

But today, on a whim, I picked up a 5 pound bag of the King Arthur whole wheat flour. They say on the bag that it's balanced for whole wheat baking.

Incredible bread. It rose excellently, unlike prior whole wheat only experiments, and produced a wonderful looking loaf. So if you're looking into experimenting with a whole wheat loaf, I would sincerely suggest investing in some of this stuff.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Interesting.

King Arthur's has a great reputation, but is fairly hard to find out here on the West Coast. I almost always use flour from Bob's Red Mill, which is sold in bulk at nearly every grocery store here (the main mill is only about 20 minutes from my place). I've always been happy with the quality of their stuff, but it may be worth picking up a bag of King Arthur's to see if it makes a difference.

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

It would be incredibly cool to have a mill near us. There's a place down in Little Rock called Wild Oats that has a bunch of organic flours, but I wind up paying as much as $1 to $1.50 lb for it, as opposed to about .60 for the King Arthur's.

Just about all of the books I have recommend getting fresh ground flour, but sometimes it's just not convenient trying to track it down.

If they can get King Arthur's all the way out here in Arkansas, I figure they can probably get it across the Rockies (the wheat is bagged in Vermont)...maybe try their website?

But then, Bob's may be cheaper since it's local, too.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yeah, I've seen King Arthur's here. You have to hunt for it a bit, but I know a few places that carry it.

Bob's is definitely cheaper here. I picked up some of their organic whole wheat flour bulk at the local grocery store Friday for 50 cents a pound. It is probably a lot fresher than King Arthur's here too.

We have Wild Oats stores here too. Good stuff, for the most part, but pretty expensive.

sofar's picture
sofar

I love King Arthur Whole wheat flour, and we're pretty close so the price is still reasonable.

If you can't get a hold of a good one, the general ratio for adding an unbleached white flour is 1:1 to the whole wheat/graham stuff.

You can buy diastatic malt, ascorbic acid, and other specialty dough "conditioners" which all help your bread texture, directly from King Arthur Flour Inc, at their website www.bakerscatalogue.com

They ship by weight, so the actual flours themselves may not be very economical to get to the west coast, but it's worth checking out their site. They also have cool Northeast flavoring items, like boiled cider (which makes an awesome apple sourdough addition) and Vermont maple syrup.

Laura's picture
Laura

I used to have problems with whole wheat loaves - regardless of brand of flour. It's not so much brand (I use King Arthur, Bob's Red Mill or Arrowheard Mills), as technique: (1) don't use "Rapid-Rise" or "Quick Rise" yeasts when using whole wheat or other whole grain flours. Always use "active dry" yeast; (2) always make a sponge (as opposed to mixing the yeast with the dry ingredients) with some of the whole wheat flour, the yeast, and a tablespoon of sugar or honey. Allow the sponge to sit for about 30 minutes before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. This helps jump start the rise and it also softens the bran. Whole wheat flour has just as much gluten as white flour, but the bran in whole wheat acts like tiny razors that cut the strands of gluten, thereby preventing the gas entrapment that allows the bread to rise properly; (3) use bread flour (King Arthur is especially good) instead of all-purpose flour, as the higher protein will help sustain a nice rise; (4) add 3 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten per loaf. Whole wheat bread is never going to rise as high as all-white bread, and 100% whole wheat will produce a rather dense loaf - which is wonderful and has great merit. Try a 60/40 ratio and play around a bit. It is absolutely possible to produce a softer, higher whole wheat loaf - try these techniques - and don't give up! Also, try substituting 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ for some of the flour. It adds a lovely wheat taste with interfering with the rise.

Kindest regards,

Laura
Wheaton, Illinois

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

Odd, because I used the King Arthur Whole Wheat, without any other additions, and made a loaf that rose just about as high as a white loaf, and without the brickishness. Are you sure you've used King Arthur Whole Wheat, as opposed to bread flour with other Whole Wheat mixed in?

Todd Erickson

Laura's picture
Laura

Todd:

Yes, I'm sure I used King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. My troubles were more with combining rye and whole wheat with no white flour whatsoever. My loaves always taste wonderful - but some breads with exclusively whole grain flours are somewhat recalcitrant - and don't rise as high.

Today, however, I baked two loaves of Italian Herb & Cheese Bread...gorgeous! I brought a loaf to my daughter and she ate half the loaf immediately!

Kindest regards,

Laura
Wheaton, Illinois

Laura's picture
Laura

Todd:

Yes, I'm sure I used King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. My troubles were more with combining rye and whole wheat with no white flour whatsoever. My loaves always taste wonderful - but some breads with exclusively whole grain flours are somewhat recalcitrant - and don't rise as high.

Today, however, I baked two loaves of Italian Herb & Cheese Bread...gorgeous! I brought a loaf to my daughter and she ate half the loaf immediately!

Kindest regards,

Laura
Wheaton, Illinois