Whole Grain Without the Pain: Favorite treats using white whole wheat

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Two of these chocolate chip cookies are made with 100% all-purpose flour.

Two are made with 100% whole wheat flour.

Will your kids be able to tell the difference?

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A blueberry muffin made with 100% whole wheat flour on the left. And on the right, the same muffin made with all-purpose flour.

When they’re side by side, you can see a slight difference in color.

But who ever eats a whole wheat muffin and a white flour muffin both at the same time?

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Ah, the bête noir of those of us trying to “bake healthy” with whole wheat: 100% whole wheat bread.

Yes, it’s light tan. And looking at it, no one will mistake this for Wonder Bread.

But if your goal is a soft, moist, just slightly sweet, eminently sliceable sandwich loaf, one that complements everything from PB & J to tuna salad to ham and cheese – this bread is it.

You know, we’ve been pounding the drum for white whole wheat flour for nigh on 20 years here at King Arthur Flour. And apparently, we haven’t been doing a very good job, because many of you just don’t understand what it is.

“Is white whole wheat flour white flour? Is it whole wheat? Is it bleached?”

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Here’s the simplest explanation: white whole wheat flour is whole wheat flour, flour ground from the entire wheat kernel. White wheat’s kernels are simply a different color than those of traditional red whole wheat flour.

White tulip. Red tulip. They’re both tulips, right? Same flower, same characteristics and attributes – different color.

White whole wheat and red (traditional) whole wheat? Same thing.

So if you’re thinking, “Man, I’d love to get a bit more fiber into my family’s diet;” or “I’d sure like it if the cookies my kids eat after soccer practice had a bit more going for them nutritionally,” then I highly — HIGHLY — recommend stocking your pantry with white whole wheat flour.

“So, can I substitute white wheat 1:1 for all-purpose flour in all my favorite recipes?”

Well, yes… and no. Would I substitute it 100% for all-purpose flour in an oatmeal cookie recipe? Yes. Would I substitute it 100% for all-purpose flour in a delicate vanilla holiday rollout cookie? No.

Chocolate cake, fruit cake, gingerbread, yes. Angel food cake, white cake, yellow cake, no.

Pumpkin muffins, cinnamon-apple scones, banana bread? Absolutely. Biscuits, cream scones, lemon-poppyseed bread? Probably not.

Are you getting the picture here? A lot of us eat with our eyes, and in light-colored baked goods, you’ll see a difference in color.

Plus, in certain “plain” recipes – for instance, pie crust or sugar cookies – you’ll probably taste a slight difference. After all, whole wheat flour has a lot more in it – wheat bran and germ – than all-purpose flour.

But how often do you make sugar cookies, compared to chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal? How many angel food cakes do you make each year? Not as many as chocolate, right?

Here’s my best advice: Buy a bag of white whole wheat flour, stash it in the fridge or freezer, and when you’re making something that seems like a good fit, get out your white wheat.

Start by subbing white wheat for 1/3 of the white flour in the recipe. (Feeling brave? Go 50/50.)

If you like the results, increase the percentage next time. Increase even more the time after that. For some recipes, you’ll find you can easily use 100% whole wheat flour without anyone noticing.

I mean, whole wheat or not, who ever turns down a warm chocolate chip cookie?

We have hundreds of recipes using whole wheat on our recipe site. The following are some of my kid-friendly favorites. With school back in session (or about to be), it’s time to turn over a new leaf.

Here’s to whole grain – without the pain!

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Whole Wheat Waffles

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 122 reader raves

“WOW! At long last – whole wheat waffles our family, including finicky granddaughter, will love!! We love waffles and I’ve always wanted to find a whole grain recipe that would suffice. This is it!” vcallahan – KAF Community

Tip: If you or your family are very sensitive to whole wheat’s sometimes assertive flavor, try substituting 2 tablespoons orange juice for 2 tablespoons of the milk in this recipe. The OJ tames whole wheat’s potentially tannic taste, without adding any citrus flavor of its own.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Homemade Whole Grain Pancake Mix

  87% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 100 reader raves

“Fed these to 3 boys who are very fussy eaters! They loved them. It was amazing.” Bev – Plymouth, MN

Tip: No buttermilk in the fridge? Substitute 3/4 cup regular yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup milk; or 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup milk.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 45 reader raves

“I whipped up a batch before dinner…very simple to throw together with 3 little kids under my feet. Moist and perfect with the blueberries I froze from last summer. My kids loved them and asked that I make them again.” tonyaann – KAF Community

Tip: For perfectly intact muffins – no tears or crumbles – line your pan with muffin/cupcake papers, and grease the papers.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  50% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 73 reader raves

“My children absolutely love these muffins! I think they refuse to eat the last 2 bananas in the bunch, knowing that these muffins will appear when they are too ripe!” dbglas5 – KAF Community

Tip: The riper the banana, the better the flavor. This is the perfect way to use up those absolutely black, got-lost-in-the-bottom-of-the-fruit-bowl bananas.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 216 reader raves

“I have made this in my bread machine several times with a few variations and have had great success. It is the perfect PB&J bread for my very picky 3-year-old!” Lindsey – Dallas, TX

Tip: The liquid sweetener you choose here makes a difference. Molasses produces the darkest loaf, one with old-fashioned flavor. Honey yields a lighter, milder loaf. Maple syrup makes a less-sweet loaf, with just the faintest hint of maple.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

 

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Honey Wheat Rolls

  65% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 76 reader raves

“These were in our Thanksgiving bread basket and what a delight these rolls are. The yummy wheat flavor is wonderful and the texture is light and fluffy. A new tradition for our family. My 2-year-old grandson said it all: ‘Gamma, these are yummy.’ ” Sharon – California

Tip: Brush hot-from-the-oven rolls with melted butter for a soft, satiny, buttery crust.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 131 reader raves

“This is really the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten! Even my 4-year-old daughter loved it!” Roberta – Suwanee, GA

Tip: Want to dress up the bread’s crust — and add flavor, too? Mix 2 tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread before baking.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Crunchy Parmesan Crackers

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Be the first to review!

Tip: Do you suffer from rolling pin phobia? Don’t be afraid of this recipe. The dough is extremely easy to roll, doesn’t crack around the edges, and makes hundreds of delicious crackers.

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Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 47 reader raves

“I was very hesitant about making these cookies and using the www flour… but boy are they delicious… These are my new favorite cc cookie recipe and when the kids eat them at least I feel a little better that they are whole grain and less butter. My four kids ages 2-10 loved them.” Momma – NE PA

Tip: Part of the reason these cookies stay soft is their relatively short baking time. To ensure soft cookies, do a test bake of 4 to 6 cookies before baking the entire batch. Let them cool for about 15 minutes. Are they soft, rather than crisp? If so, you’ve nailed the time. If not, shorten the baking time for the remainder of the cookies.

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Tasting is Believing Whole-Grain Brownies

  100% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 62 reader raves

Tip: Want to “fancy” these brownies up for a special occasion? Once they’re baked, use a deep cookie cutter to cut out shapes: pumpkins for Halloween, stars for the holidays, or rounds to use in elegant brownie sundaes.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

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Oatmeal Cookies

  63% whole grain
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 62 reader raves

“This is by far the best oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve ever used! My family loved those soft, golden brown and delicious oatmeal cookies so now I am making them every weekend!” Helen – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tip: If you’re a fan of salty/sweet, the merest sprinkle of salt (extra-fine preferred) atop the just-baked cookies brings their flavor over the top.

For step-by-step photos and more tips, see the blog.

Our King Arthur Flour recipe site offers hundreds of additional whole grain recipes – enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Diane! If your fruitcake recipe calls for baking soda and salt, you’d still need to add those to your recipe. White Whole Wheat Flour is just that — flour, so the rest of your recipe will remain the same. You’d simply swap out the flours, and if the batter is too thick, drizzle in a little extra liquid to thin it out. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Samina! We’d recommend using it in a recipe that’s designed to be whole wheat such as our Sprouted Wheat Pasta. Our Sprouted Wheat Flour and whole wheat flours are interchangeable. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can easily add whole wheat flour to many of your favorite recipes, including pound cake. You should know, however, the adding wheat flour may change the texture and flavor of your pound cake, which is traditionally made with all white flour. The texture might be slightly more coarse and not quite as smooth. You may consider using some Whole Wheat Pastry Flour to ensure the cake is still tender. Regardless, start by replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour (either white or traditional whole wheat, or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour). There’s no need to make any changes to the recipe with this approach. If you’d replace 100% of the white flour with whole wheat, add about 2 teaspoons of additional liquid per cup of whole wheat flour. Before baking, allow the mixture to rest for about 15 minutes so that the whole grains can absorb the additional liquid and soften slightly. Add extra liquid if the mixture seems dry or stiff, and then bake as you normally would. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  1. Tatiana

    i bought whole wheat flour instead of stone ground whole wheat flour for a bread recipe that called for stone ground. should i use a different amount of whole wheat than the recipe suggested? i’m guessing slightly less since stone ground grains would be different sized?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Tatiana, if you can measure your ingredients by weight, then you can make a simple 1:1 swap. If you’re measuring by volume, you may simply need to add slightly more flour or liquid to achieve the desired dough consistency. With any yeast baking, we find these slight adjustments are necessary anyways to account for the ambient environment, flour measuring technique, etc., so the flour swap shouldn’t prove to be much of an added complication. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried that ourselves, Suja, but we suspect it would work. If you choose to experiment, do let us know how it comes out! Mollie@KAF

  2. Liz

    Once again on substituting white whole wheat flour for unbleached all purpose…
    The King Arthur Ingredient Weight Chart indicates that one cup all purpose flour weighs 4 1/4 oz. If a recipe calls for one cup all purpose flour and I want to substitute half of that with white whole wheat flour, may l use 2 1/8 oz. white whole wheat and 2 1/8 oz. all purpose (totaling 4 1/4 oz) without adding any additional liquid?
    Thank you.
    (I ask this question because I always weigh dry ingredients when baking & I hesitate adding additional liquid when baking – I just don’t want to throw off a baking recipe.)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, Liz, that will be just fine. There’s no hard-and-fat scientific rule about how much whole whet to substitute, as it’s so subjective. So going 2 1/8 ounces and 2 1/8 ounces should work well. Good luck — PJH

  3. Erynn

    What about substituting white whole wheat flour for bread flour? My bread maker came with a recipe for dinner rolls I’d really like to try, but i’d like to use the white WW flour I just got!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We recommend starting by replacing half of the white flour in a recipe (either all-purpose or bread flour) with white whole wheat flour. You may need to add slightly more water (a few teaspoons) if the dough feels dry. The bread can also benefit from a short rest period after it has come together, before kneading. If you’re using a bread maker, turn it off for 15 minutes after the dough is in one ball and then start it up again, or use the whole wheat setting. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Elaine McIntyre

    I make heavenly yeast dinner rolls, and have substituted the whole wheat flour for 1/2 the flour called for. They are still heavenly, light, fluffy, not quite as sweet, and do have the brownish color so others will see they are not white yeast rolls. It works perfectly every time, and now I do the 50/50 for all recipes except for meats, etc.

    Reply
  5. Marcia

    I always use WWW instead of AP flour in cookies, cakes, etc., with no other changes and they always come out just fine. (Shhh, don’t tell my son.) My instinct has been not to use it in very delicate things like angel food cake or in pie crust and I’m glad to see that’s the right idea.

    I have a no-knead focaccia recipe rising in my kitchen in which I used WWW instead of AP, but I think I’m going to have to toss it. It hasn’t risen anywhere near as much as it should. The recipe said to let it rise 8-24 hours and that it should rise dramatically. It’s been about 20 hours and the rise is no where near dramatic.

    Next time I’ll know to add extra liquid. But if I want to try this recipe again, are there any other adjustments I should make, since the advice to let it rest 20-30 minutes before kneading doesn’t apply?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Your secret is good with us! For sure, add more liquid if you are substituting more than half the flour with WW or WWW. Usually 1-3 t. extra liquid per cup of whole grain flour should do it. But, add more if necessary! Once the ingredients are all together and has been adjusted with more liquid, you may let it sit for 15-20 minutes, absolutely! If it seems too wet before letting it rest, no problem. The flour will hydrate as it rests which makes for a dough much easier to handle. Enjoy sliding in some whole grains as often as you can (unnoticed)! Elisabeth@KAF

  6. Terri School

    Can I use the white whole wheat flour in recipes that consist of meat and things. Such as a 50/50?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Terri, not sure about meat/flour recipes; I’d assume the answer is yes, but would need more details to say for sure. PJH

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