A simple way to add fiber to breakfast

Would you like to know a simple way to add fiber to breakfast via your favorite breakfast muffins and quick breads?

Bake them with whole wheat flour. End of story.

“Whoa, not so fast,” you say. “I’ve tried that. My family doesn’t like whole wheat flour.”

But perhaps that’s because you’ve used a traditional red wheat flour, one that bakes up dark and adds its own assertive flavor to your favorite banana muffin and cinnamon bread recipes.

Well, baking with whole wheat flour doesn’t have to be a turn-off for choosy eaters. Use whole wheat flour (50/50 with all-purpose flour, or even 100%) in any of your tried-and-true muffin and quick bread recipes, and chances are no one will realize the switch – if you use one particular whole wheat flour, that is.

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

White whole wheat flour.

What exactly IS white whole wheat flour, anyway?

White whole wheat is a type of wheat – just like Granny Smith is a type of apple. It’s 100% whole wheat; not a mixture of white and wheat flours, and certainly not bleached.

Packed with fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, white whole wheat flour is nutritionally equivalent to traditional red wheat.

And white whole wheat flour is both light in color and mild-flavored, making it the perfect choice for bakers hesitant to add the distinctive color and taste of red whole wheat to their baking.

Light in color? Let’s put it to the test in cornbread, where any darkening in color it brings will surely be evident.

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

At top left is cornbread batter made with all-purpose flour; top right, a mixture of half all-purpose, half white whole wheat flour; bottom, batter made 100% with white whole wheat flour.

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

And here are the results after baking: left to right, all-purpose flour, the 50/50 mixture, and 100% white whole wheat flour.

Note: You may be thinking “Wow, those loaves didn’t rise much.” That’s because they weren’t supposed to! I wanted to bake a typical flat “sheet” of cornbread, but didn’t have three of the same size cake pan. So I used three 9″ pain de mie pans in place of the square cake pan the recipe calls for. The result? Typical flat cornbreads, rather than tall loaves. 

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Yes, there’s a color difference; but it’s subtle enough that your audience isn’t going to take one look, shriek in horror, and accuse you of ruining their favorite cornbread.

As for flavor, I couldn’t taste a difference, even in the 100% whole wheat version. And the graininess of the cornmeal masked any potential graininess from the whole wheat’s bran, so texture-wise they all matched, as well.

Now let’s try the same experiment in America’s favorite muffin: blueberry.

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Top row to bottom you see muffins (batter, and baked) made with 100% white whole wheat flour; a 50/50 white whole wheat/all-purpose flour mixture, and 100% all-purpose flour.

The 100% white whole wheat flour batter is slightly darker than the 100% all-purpose flour batter. But once the muffins bake and brown, that visual difference disappears.

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Rise-wise, the 100% white whole wheat flour muffins (right) actually rose a tiny bit higher than the all-purpose flour muffins (left) and 50/50 muffins (center).

As for interior color – subtle difference, but again, nothing anyone would shy away from, right?

A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Shy away from, indeed – I suspect you won’t have any trouble finding takers for a muffin that looks this good!

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned, OK? It’s pretty simple:

•For added fiber and nutrition, substitute white whole wheat flour for up to 100% of the all-purpose flour in your muffin and quick bread recipes.

•It’s not necessary to amend your recipe in any way to make this substitution.

•The more whole wheat you substitute, the darker the color – though the color difference is only obvious in light-colored baked goods.

•In very plain muffins or quick breads, you may notice a bit of “grainy” mouth feel from whole wheat’s bran. Or you may not. Either way, this slightly rougher texture tends to disappear overnight, as the bran softens.

White whole wheat flour: a simple solution for better breakfasts. Try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Carolyn

    Hi – I seem to recall a couple (maybe 3?) years ago you did a terrific analysis on different kinds of baked goods and the addition of whole wheat flour. I seem to recall that you talked about adding a bit of orange juice to help temper any stronger flavour of the whole wheat flour. Do you still recommend that?
    I love KA white whole wheat flour- I wish it was available in Canada, without having to mail order it from you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Carolyn, you are remembering our series on adding whole wheat flour to pizza, rolls and yeast breads, along with blogs about adding it to breakfast items and lastly, cookies, bars, and brownies. And you’re right–whole wheat flour requires some additional moisture to make it fully hydrated and rise correctly. If you use a few tablespoons of orange juice for this extra liquid, it helps offset some of the potential bitter flavor of whole wheat. Happy whole grain baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Amy

    Carolyn, I agree! KAF white whole wheat flour is one of the things I miss most about living in the United States. I like the taste of whole wheat, but the white whole wheat flour is so great for converting white flour recipes to whole wheat without weighing them down. Keep up the good whole wheat work!

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    Thank you so much for this information! I have been using WW flour in almost all of my baked goods for about 5 years now. I have not tried the white WW flour, but I certainly will now.

    Reply
  4. KareninStLouis

    When you say it’s not necessary to amend the recipe in any way when substituting with white whole wheat flour, is that true in all recipes that call for all-purpose flour or just breads and muffins? What are the guideline? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen, we do normally recommend adding up to a tablespoon extra liquid when substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in a recipe, but PJ found that this isn’t usually necessary when making muffins and quick breads. For more information about substituting white whole wheat flour into different kinds of recipes, check out this post, and also this one. Barb@KAF

  5. Tricia Fox

    In today’s Sunday Recipe Roundup, PJ’s article on “A Simple Way to Add Fiber to Breakfast” was much appreciated and informative. But, PJ said it is not necessary to amend your recipe in any way when substituting whole wheat flour.

    Then, in reading the Comments below PJ’s article, and in response to Carolyn’s Jan 20 comment, Kye from Baker’s Hot Line said amendment is needed by adding moisture, and orange juice can be part of that moisture. I am confused — What is KAF’s actual position on substituting whole wheat flour for white? And, if additional moisture is needed, roughly how much? I am very interested in starting to bake with KAF white whole wheat flour. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tricia, in general we do say that when substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in a recipe, up to an additional tablespoon of liquid per cup may be necessary because the whole wheat flour will absorb more liquid than the all-purpose flour. However, PJ, in her extensive experimenting with substituting white whole wheat flour into recipes, concluded that this is not usually necessary when making muffins and quick breads. This may be because we tend to bake this type of baked good immediately, so the whole wheat flour doesn’t have time to fully hydrate and soak up extra liquid. It’s also important to note that white whole wheat flour, because it has a thinner bran layer than regular whole wheat flour, will not absorb as much liquid as the regular whole wheat flour will. So, for example, in a bread recipe where you have substituted white whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe, you may only have to add a teaspoon or two extra liquid, as opposed to a tablespoon when substituting regular whole wheat flour. Barb@KAF

  6. Andy

    Thanks for the article. I wish you had included additional photos of the same recipe made with “regular” whole wheat flour for further visual comparison.

    Reply
  7. kentuckylady717

    Great, they all look great and I just bought some white whole wheat flour, but haven’t used it yet….now where is the recipe for these blueberry muffins :)?

    Have a question re:cornbread…..if you make cornbread out of self-rising corn meal, is there a reason to still put some flour in it ?????

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, here it is, Blueberry Muffins. It sounds as if the self-rising corn meal should have everything you need! Please read any information on the side of the bag/container. Elisabeth@KAF

  8. Cathy R

    I make your English Muffin Toasting Bread with 60% white whole wheat flour and 40% regular flour. I’d go 100% if I was back at sea level, but at altitude, I just have problems with that.

    I just have to add more liquid, as you recommend. It is fabulous and I frequently get “requests” from my parents for a loaf of their very own…

    Reply
  9. Pat Clark

    I am pre diabetic and must watch my carbs. Will using white whole wheat cut the carbs and in the blueberry muffin recipe what are carbs per serving,

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Pat,
      The best way to know the carb content of the products you are using is to read the labels and use an app or calculator to determine the carbs for each recipe, and then compare to decide which products are best for you. While we don’t have the nutritional information on every recipe on our site, it is something we are working on for 2016. MJR @ KAF

  10. Susan Weintrob

    Fabulous post–just love these tips. I have been using the white whole wheat flour all year. And now you give me more reasons to continue doing so!

    Reply
  11. Kim Kiernan

    Great article! Can’t wait to try the white whole wheat flour once I use up my whole wheat pastry flour (of a different brand 😢). Can you tell me does KAF carry whole wheat pastry flour. I can’t seem to find it where I live. I routinely substitute the WW pastry flour for white flour in most muffins, cookies and quick breads with no substitutions needed. Would the WW pastry flour be comparable to the white whole wheat in results? Thanks for your wonderful blogs!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for checking, Kim! We do also carry a Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, but it’s primarily distributed directly through us via our catalog or online: http://bit.ly/1lki9rf, so you aren’t likely to find it in your local store. Our Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is milled from low-protein soft wheat and adds whole grain nutrition to pastries, without density or heft. Our White Whole Wheat Flour is also mellow in flavor and color, but it’s milled from a higher protein, hard wheat. We like to think the White Whole Wheat is as versatile as All-Purpose–it produces a tender enough product to be used in muffins, quick breads and even high moisture cookies without any other adjustments; and it’s also strong enough to be used in yeast breads (though we recommend starting with a partial substitution of 25-50%). Our Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, on the other hand, tends towards a more delicate final product, making it ideal for use in pies, cookies but not suitable for more structured baked goods like bread. For more tips about choosing your flour, feel free to give our free Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE. Our bakers are here seven days a week and happy to chat! Mollie@KAF

  12. Gretchen

    I baked these yesterday, and they turned out GREAT. One suggestion I might make, and this happened by accident. When I was ready to fill the muffin tin with the papers in it, I grabbed my spring-lever ice cream scoop, and it worked PERFECTLY!

    Reply

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