Julia asks:Can you
substitute whole wheat flour when the recipe calls for white flour?
If so, what is the ratio?
Pastry Chef Steve Song: Whole wheat flour is
nothing more than all purpose or white flour with added wheat bran.
Yes, believe it or not, you can MAKE your own whole-wheat flour! It
is a straight 1 to 1 ratio.
For every cup of all-purpose flour, you add the same amount of
wheat bran. But keep in mind because whole flour has different
structure and taste, not all baked goods should be substituted for
whole wheat flour.
For example, from a professional point of view, if you are
making delicate sponge or chiffon cakes, I would not recommend
using whole wheat flour. However, less delicate baked items such as
muffins, coffee cakes, biscuits,scones and breads are very whole
wheat flour friendly.
In the category of quick breads (ie. scones and biscuits), I
like to use 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup of whole wheat
flour. For breads, I like to use a 1 to 1 ratio for whole wheat to
white flour. Also, because whole-wheat flour has less
protein(gluten) you may want to add either gluten or bread flour
which has a higher protein level to give your bread some lift and
Here are some very important things to keep in mind when using
whole wheat flour:
- Whole wheat flour is more dense than white flour, so you should
sift, or if you are too lazy to sift, quickly aerate your whole
wheat flour with a whisk.
- If you are substituting whole wheat flour, you must increase
your wet ingredients ever so slightly. Why you may ask? The bran in
the whole wheat flour acts like a sponge, therefore absorbes more
than the required moisture in your recipe.
- Lastly, avoid over mixing when you use whole-wheat all-purpose
flour in baked goods such as cookies and muffins because the denser
flour mixture will create unwanted gluten and make your baked goods
tougher and chewier.
I hope this answers your question and happy baking.
Steve Song is an accomplished pastry chef with 18 years of
experience. He has worked at such acclaimed restaurants as
Ultra Supper Club, Senses, Mildred Pierce, Oro,
and Canoe in Toronto, as well as
Restaurant Daniel, Mesa Grill, and La Cote
Basque in New York.
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