Holiday Baking Recipe Tips

Whole Wheat Cookie BarsWhole wheat baking can be easy if you know the ins and outs of how to handle whole wheat flour.

100% whole wheat flour is a whole grain product that is made from the entire seed or kernel of a plant.

Grains have three parts, the endosperm which contains starch and protein, the bran – rich in fiber, minerals, and phytonutrients, and the germ – full of B vitamins, vitamin E and other antioxidants and minerals.

“White” or refined flours are stripped of their most nutritious parts when they take away the bran and sometimes the germ.

Choosing the right whole wheat flour

Stone ground whole wheat flour, available in most major grocery chains, is a coarse winter wheat best suited to crunchy crackers and crusty bread. If you’re looking for a softer whole wheat flour for bars, cookies and cakes, try whole wheat pastry flour ground from soft wheat berries grown in the spring or “white” whole wheat flour that is manufactured by one of my favorite food companies, King Arthur.

Adjusting the Liquid

Do you ever wonder why whole wheat baked goods can sometimes turn out dry? Unlike white flour, whole wheat flour is thirsty because the bran in the flour has the tendency to absorb water. If you are baking from a recipe that doesn’t call for whole wheat flour, but you want to sub it in, try using the same amount of whole wheat flour with just 2 tablespoon to 1/4 cup more of the liquid than the recipe calls for (such as milk, egg white, or other dairy product). If you don’t want to change the amount of liquid, you can always adjust the baking time or decrease the amount of flour slightly.

Baking Time

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie BarsSince whole wheat flour is so “thirsty” and absorbs more liquid it’s also key to watch the baking time. I use the same temperature as for white baked goods, but just shorten the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes. Once you settle on your favorite whole wheat flour brand, I suggest you stick with the same product so that you know exactly how to adjust the liquid and baking time to get the very best results. In one of my posts on Kitchen Daily, learn more about the lighter side to baking along with a delicious recipe for whole wheat Linzer cookies.

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