I’ve been adding whole grains to my diet more and more lately and wanted to incorporate it into my baking as well. But I wondered, is whole wheat flour an even substitute in most recipes? I set out on a quest to find out… and this is what I learned.
Tips for Substituting Whole Wheat for White Flour:
1. Substitute an equal part of whole wheat flour for white flour as long as it’s the same type of flour. In other words, 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour can replace 1 cup of white bread flour, and 1/2 cup of whole wheat all-purpose flour is an acceptable substitute for 1/2 cup of white all-purpose flour.
2. Sift whole wheat flour more than white. The problem cooks tend to run into is that because whole wheat flour is more dense, the end product can often seem heavy or solid. No one wants to eat bread that has no air in it, so if you’re using whole wheat flour, lessen the density by sifting the flour a couple of times. This helps incorporate more air into the dough.
3. Adjust your recipe to keep your baked goods from drying out. If you do a complete substitution and there is no white flour in your recipe, you’ll end up with a baked item that is a bit drier than normal. There are two ways to avoid this: you can adjust your baking time and take the bread or muffins out of the oven sooner, or you can increase your wet ingredients ever so slightly. For example, if you’re making an applesauce muffin with whole wheat flour, add just a bit more applesauce to compensate for the dryness of the whole wheat.
4. Avoid over-mixing when you use whole-wheat all-purpose flour in baked goods such as cookies or muffins. Too much mixing will cause the flour to form glutens, which gives you a tougher, chewier end product. Some cooks choose to use a combination of whole wheat and white flour for a slightly fluffier end result. Depending on what you’re cooking, you may want to substitute anywhere from half to all of your white flour with whole wheat.