The Secret to Fluffy and Delicious Whole Wheat Baked Goods

Dear Gluten Free Friends: This post is very whole wheaty and not at all helpful to your gluten free life. I’ve got your back though because as you know, many of the recipes here on my site are naturally gluten free. After all, while I do love freshly ground whole wheat flour, I also love variety and breadless recipes. So just for you: 100+ Gluten Free Recipes. Click on over and have at it. Love ya much!

wheat_fields_2

See the difference in grains?
We took this picture while traveling through Kansas a few years ago. 

As a newly-wed I remember visiting someone’s house where they served homemade rolls made exclusively with whole wheat flour. I tried to like the rolls, but I was used to white rolls made with all-purpose flour, and these rolls just weren’t the same. I decided that I simply didn’t like whole wheat flour, and really, I didn’t like anything considered to be a “health food.” (I thought eating healthy meant I had to eat rice cakes and bean sprouts for every meal.) I continued on my merry way where I ate very few fruits and veggies, drank about a liter of Pepsi every day, and made oodles of delicious cookies and cakes with white flour.

Many years (and way too many gallons of Pepsi) later, one of my friends started selling her homemade bread at our local Farmer’s Market. She had some leftover one night, so she sent a loaf home with me. We ate it for breakfast the next day, and we loved it down to the last crumb. I complimented her up and down next time I saw her, asking what kind it was. “It’s just my regular whole wheat bread recipe.” What?! That bread was whole wheat? Like, whole wheat and white flour mixed, right?! “Nope. 100% whole grain. I grind it myself.”

That is the moment I learned about the different varieties of wheat and the deliciousness of grinding grain into flour. (I never actually knew people did that. Grind your own flour? Seriously?!) I was intrigued. I researched. I asked questions. I saved up for a Nutrimill, stocked up on hard white wheat, and the rest is history.

white_wheat_flour

Red Wheat, White Wheat, Hard Wheat, Soft Wheat

Oh how many wheat you meet. Look at me. I’m Dr. Seuss. 

There is a big difference between red wheat and white wheat. Both produce whole wheat flour -but they bake up differently, creating different textures and flavors. I’ve covered this in detail in several other posts, which I’ll point you to now:

hard wheat soft wheat

It’s hard to see the difference in the picture.
Hard is more pointy. Soft is more round. There. Does that help?

The Secret to Fluffy and Delicious Whole Grain Baked Goods

Let’s talk about how you can make the most amazing whole grain cookies, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and pastries.

When I first started grinding flour to make all of our baked goods healthier and tastier, I used hard white wheat for everything. It did this because:

  • Hard white wheat flour works for any recipe, whether it is a yeast bread or a non-yeast product. (Soft wheat only works for non-yeast products.)
  • Grinding just one kind of flour made life easier.

Finally, after the recommendation from many of you, I gave soft white wheat a try. This is the variety of wheat that, when ground, produces whole grain pastry flour. I used it first for pancakes, then I used it for muffins, then I decided that I had waited way too long to try this. Pastry flour makes a huge difference in the density of baked goods!

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (ground from soft white grain) is almost like using white all-purpose flour. It is light and fluffy and baked goods I make with it turn out really delicious.

muffins

Simple as that, freshly ground Soft White Wheat is the secret to turning out amazing baked goods.

Remember though, if you’re making a yeast bread, you still have to use Hard White (or red) Wheat. I now love both hard and soft white varieties and keep them both on hand at all times for all our baking needs.

no-knead bread 3

If you’re afraid of baking yeast bread, or simply want to make life much easier –
you have to try this easy Stir-and-Pour Bread. Because of this recipe, I will never knead bread again.
(This bread requires hard wheat, not soft, because it is a yeast bread.)

So let’s review:

  1. Use hard wheat for yeast breads.
  2. Use soft wheat for everything else.
  3. Or use hard wheat for everything – but I’m telling you, soft wheat (which produces whole wheat pastry flour) is wonderful to work with!

Some of our favorite recipes which use Whole Grain Pastry Flour:

Most don’t even realize they are eating whole grains when they eat any of these goodies! For that matter, the recipes that are low in sugar don’t seem to phase people either. Who knew eating healthier could taste so good?!

Let me hear from you!

  • Do you grind your own flour?
  • What is your flour preference?
  • Have you tried soft wheat (pastry flour) or do you stick with hard wheat for every recipe?

Garlic Cheese Biscuits (Like Red Lobster’s) – the Real Food Way

I used to go out to eat at restaurants just because of the baskets of bread they kept bringing to the table. Red Lobster Garlic Cheese Biscuits? Oh my, yes. But who am I kidding? I really used to go out to eat at restaurants for the unlimited Pepsi refills. Holy sugar crash, Batman.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

I’m now in the stage of life where I recognize the value of nourishment and moderation, plus if I tried to eat more than one biscuit now my body’d be like, “What are you thinking, girl?” Ah….the 40’s.

We recently treated our boys to their first Red Lobster experience (and by we treated I mean someone gave us a gift certificate). They loved the biscuits in the basket – of course – which reminded me that I know how to make them the healthy way.

Therefore, we grilled chicken and steak a few days ago, prepped some veggies, and baked some of these biscuits. This led to me making them again a few days later and then again a few days after that. Yes, the boys like them because they are amazing (my boys, and also my biscuits).

Garlic Cheese BiscuitsYum

Garlic Cheese Biscuits (Like Red Lobster's) - the Real Food Way
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (divided)
  • 1 Tablespoon sucanat
  • ⅓ cup palm shortening
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
Instructions
  1. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and sucanat.
  2. Cut in palm shortening until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  3. Fold in shredded cheese.
  4. Stir in milk until well combined.
  5. Spoon batter in Tablespoon-sized heaps onto a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in a 400° oven for 12-18 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  7. While they are baking, melt butter on the stove and stir in remaining teaspoon of garlic powder. Brush garlic butter over hot biscuits and serve immediately.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits - the real food way

With soup weather being right around the corner, I suggest you keep this recipe front and center. Soup with Garlic Cheese Biscuits is a wonderful combo.

Want a gluten free version of this recipe? This one is similar, though you’ll want to switch the onion powder for garlic powder.

How do you handle bread basket refills at restaurants? Or should I ask, how does your body handle it? 

What is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour? Where Do I Get It? How Do I Use It?

There’s this stuff called “whole wheat pastry flour” I keep talking about in my Low Sugar Treat baked goods. What in the world??

Never fear. I shall explain. You need to know this so that you can make this Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake. And probably for other reasons too.

All About Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

What is Pastry Flour?

First let me explain a little bit about different varieties of wheat so you can understand what makes pastry flour. There are other grains worth mentioning, but to keep things simple (I like simple), let’s just stick to what is most commonly used and what I like best. (Not that it’s all about me and my preferences, but I am the one writing this so…)

Hard Red Wheat

This is most commonly used in store-bought breads. It has a high protein content and a heavier texture and flavor. When you purchase “Whole Wheat Flour” at the store, you are most likely getting flour ground from red wheat. This is all good, however, it is my least favorite flour to bake with and eat. My experience is that breads turn out too heavy and dense when made with red wheat.

Hard White Wheat

I prefer the hard white variety of grain over red wheat a million times over. It is slightly lower in protein, but still offers all the goodness and nutrition of whole grain with a lighter taste and texture. Don’t let the word “white” throw you off here. It’s not white flour – it is a white wheat grain used which makes a delicious whole wheat flour. I use this almost exclusively in my kitchen. Or at least I did…

Soft White Wheat

This is my new love. Soft wheat has a low protein content, making it light and fluffy and absolutely wonderful to work with. It is this soft wheat that becomes Whole Wheat Pastry Flour when ground. Aha! Now we know what pastry flour is.

Take a look at the following picture, although it’s a little bit tough to see the difference in the grains of wheat. On the right are “soft wheat berries” and on the left are “hard wheat berries.”

hard wheat soft wheat

The soft wheat berries are a bit more rounded whereas the hard wheat berries are more flat and pokey. (I excel in the use of adjectives.)

How to Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

This is very important! While soft wheat produces a pastry flour that looks and acts like all-purpose flour in many ways, we cannot use soft wheat in any recipes that include yeast because it does not contain enough gluten. Ground soft wheat (pastry flour) can only be used in non-yeast recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, and cookies.

But let me tell you what I’m learning! Grinding soft wheat into whole wheat pastry flour for use in non-yeast goodies is fantastic! Hard wheat can be used in any recipe – yeast or no. But soft wheat (pastry flour) helps cakes and muffins bake up softer and lighter.

Lookie. Here’s my freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour.
Doesn’t it make you want to bake a cake?
(Scroll through these recipes for low sugar cake recipes.)

Pastry Flour 3

Where Can You Get Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?

Well, you can buy some Soft White Wheat Berries and grind your own if you have a grain mill. (I have a Nutrimill.)

Or, you can purchase ready-made whole wheat pastry flour from Amazon or Vitacost (learn how to get $10 off your first Vitacost order here). You can order some through a health food co-op like Azure Standard or another one you are a part of. And while I haven’t looked and don’t have one close-by, I would imagine that stores like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers carries it.

So Let’s Review

Hard wheat makes regular whole wheat flour which can be used in ANY whole wheat flour recipe.

Soft wheat makes whole wheat pastry flour which can only be used in non-yeast recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, and cookies.

You can keep it simple and use regular whole wheat flour for all of your baking needs. Or you can use pastry flour for your non-yeast baking for a lighter, fluffier baked good, then use regular whole wheat flour for yeast breads.

For more information about flour, grain, and varieties of wheat, you may want to look through all of my posts on Grains and Grain Mills.

What is your favorite flour to use in baking? Do you use a variety or stick to one kind?

So You Wanted a Low Sugar Chocolate Frosting for your Low Sugar Chocolate Cake?

When I shared this Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake recipe and told you that I’d adapted it from a Texas Sheet Cake recipe, several asked if I could come up with a low sugar chocolate frosting to go with it. I mean, the Cream Cheese Frosting is great, but sometimes we just need some chocolate with our chocolate, yes?

Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake

Creating a chocolate frosting for this cake was a little bit tricky. See, low sugar chocolate can turn out quite bitter if you’re not a dark chocolate fan (um, or even if you are). Plus, powdered sugar is typically what gives frosting its bulk. That’s why I’ve been using cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese and whipped cream provided the bulk, then the stevia provided the sweetness and we were good to go. (More about stevia here.)

Here’s what I learned through this trial and error process: Making chocolate frosting with stevia is not so good. Spread on top of the cake it was so-so, but wow, the bitterness had too much of a bite, even for me – the one who loves dark-dark chocolate.

So here’s the solution I came up with: I used honey. This frosting is really more of a glaze, because there’s not much in it to make it thick and creamy. But a thin chocolate glaze on a chocolate cake like this? Just right.

Find the Super Moist Chocolate Cake recipe here.

Low Sugar Chocolate FrostingYum

1/2 cup butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons milk
2-4 Tablespoons honey (sweeten this to your taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan combine butter, cocoa, milk, and honey. Cook and stir over low heat until ingredients are well combined and mixture begins to thicken slightly. Removed from heat. Stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake.

Honey Sweetened Chocolate Frosting

We really liked this cake with whipped cream on top. I simply whipped the cream, then added a few drops of stevia.

Low Sugar Chocolate Cake with Honey Sweetened Frosting

I continue to be fascinated by the fact that we can take so much of the sugar out of recipes and still turn out a delicious treat.

And guess what??!! Coming up next week…Low Sugar Carrot Cake with Maple Frosting recipe. YES!! I played with a recipe and my family loved it! I’ll get it typed up to share with you soon.

Do you have any low sugar treat requests for me to play with? I won’t make any promises on being able to create what you want, but I bet I’ll have fun trying. :)