Using whole grain well

I’m down with brown and white’s not alright – the truth about whole wheat versus whole grain

There are three parts to grain kernels: germ, bran and endosperm. Whole wheat usually only contains the latter two while whole grain contains all three. Whole wheat flour is sometimes just white flour with the bran added back in. The texture is quite granular. Other brands of whole wheat flour are mildly refined (only the germ is removed) and the texture is smooth. Some breads advertise “made with 100% whole wheat” but check the ingredient list. Often these breads are made with a combination of refined, or white flour, and 100% whole wheat flour. This is an example of marketing trickery. Breads made solely with whole wheat and/or whole grain flour usually add extra gluten to help with dough structure.

If going for whole grain buy stone ground flour and store in fridge if not using right away. If using whole wheat flour, add wheat germ to the mix and store along with the wheat germ in the fridge. Wheat germ and wheat bran are readily available in most grocery stores.

In commercial flour production the germ and bran are removed resulting in protein and nutrient loss. The essential oils contained within the germ degrade with the heat from the milling of industrial machines. This along with expedient bulk production, long storage capacity and transportation requirements make the removal of the good stuff necessary.

Whole grain is a thirsty flour. Adjust liquids accordingly or add applesauce, banana or other puréed fruit (dates, raisins) to the mix to retain moisture. Whole grains also produce a denser dough. Use a small percentage of a lighter flour (eg brown rice flour, whole wheat pastry flour) to balance the heaviness. Handle the dough gently, don’t over knead and throw in some wheat gluten to help with the conditioning of the dough. The addition of a sourdough starter and some nuts/seeds also greatly enhances the flavour of whole grain loaves.

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