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.
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.”
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.)
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?