About a year ago a dear friend and highly regarded baker mentioned something that struck me: she had stopped using all white flour in her bread recipes. It just felt wrong to her not to throw some whole wheat flour into the mix.
I’m embarrassed to admit that before this conversation I had never thought twice about the many all-white flour loaves I had been turning out on a near daily basis. My friend’s comment made me think about how much bread my family eats — morning toast, midday sandwiches, bread with dinner — and that maybe I, too, should start working some whole grains into our daily bread.
I soon began doing the same thing as my friend: replacing a cup of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour in whatever bread I was baking and gradually increasing the proportion from there. I now often bake the peasant bread with 50% whole wheat flour (see photos below), and most recently I’ve had excellent results using King Arthur Flour’s white whole wheat flour. Because white whole wheat flour is milled from white winter wheat seeds which lack some of the pigmentation in the bran layer contained in the red wheat berry (from which traditional whole wheat flour is milled), it is lighter in color and milder in taste — the pigment from red wheat carries a bolder flavor. (Read more about wheat varieties here.)
What’s more, King Arthur Flour’s white whole wheat flour is grown from certified seeds that are selected through field and baking tests for optimal performance in the kitchen. The farmers who are growing the wheat for KAF employ sustainable farming practices that include no till, crop rotation, and water conservation. White whole wheat flour, moreover, retains all the nutritional advantages of traditional whole wheat flour.
In addition to the peasant bread, I’ve been using KAF’s white whole wheat flour in Peter Reinhart’s English muffins and have actually had great success using 100% white whole wheat flour in this recipe. This recipe is a little fussier — it requires an overnight rise and English muffin rings (see notes below) because the dough is so wet — but it is fun to make and the reward of a homemade egg sandwich or eggs benedict or simply a warm muffin spread with butter and jam is well worth the planning and effort.
Substituting white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour is pretty straightforward but if you’re looking for a little more direction, King Arthur Flour came up with this handy guide. And to learn more about King Arthur Flour’s identity-preserved white whole wheat flour, read this or watch this video. King Arthur Flour is dedicated to providing more traceability and transparency to their consumers and their identity-preserved white whole wheat flour is just their first step.
A 1/3-cup measure is great for portioning the dough into the rings:
Love my retro bread bin:
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Every Day This dough is very wet, like batter, so you will need English muffin rings or something similar (empty tuna cans, Ball jar rings, etc.) to constrain the dough. The key with this recipe is to be sure to portion the dough into 10 rings. I only have 8 English muffin rings, and twice I’ve divided the batter into those 8 rings, and twice I’ve been disappointed — it’s very hard to cook the muffins all the way through on the griddle when they are on the large size. Use two Ball jar rings or empty tuna cans or be patient and reuse two of your rings to ensure you get 10 muffins out of the batter. You will doubt the need to divide the dough into 10 rings as you portion it out — I do every time — but the dough spreads and fills the rings as it cooks slowly on the griddle. With 100% white whole wheat flour, the texture isn’t quite like that of a Thomas’ English muffin (see photo of halved muffin above), but it is still light and airy.
- 2⅔ cups (12 oz | 340 g) King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat flour
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ cups (12 oz | 340 g) lukewarm whole or nonfat milk, see notes above
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon oil, such as olive, grapeseed, canola or vegetable
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- cornmeal for dusting
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and instant yeast. Add the milk to the bowl followed by the honey and oil. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 4 days. (Note: I have not tested storing the dough longer than 1 day.)
- On baking day: remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake the English muffins. Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water. Add it to the batter and stir to combine. Let the dough rest 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle or cast iron skillet (or other skillet) over medium heat. Mist the griddle and the inside of the rings with spray oil, then dust the inside of the rings with cornmeal (I dunked each ring into the bag of cornmeal.) Cover the cooking surface with as many rings as it will hold, then dust the pan inside the rings with more cornmeal. Lower the heat to low to medium-low — you’ll have to use trial and error to find the right temperature.
- Using a ⅓ cup measure, scoop dough into the rings. It’s OK if the dough doesn’t fill the ring completely initially — it will spread and rise as it cooks. Sprinkle tops of dough with more cornmeal. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, peeking underneath with a spatula every so often to ensure griddle is not too hot. If muffins are browning too quickly, turn the griddle down. Flip muffins, and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes. (This will feel interminable. Be sure to have a crossword puzzle nearby.) When both sides are evenly golden brown and crisp, transfer muffins to cooling rack. Let cool briefly (enough for rings to cool), then pop out rings. Let the muffins cool for at least 20 minutes before splitting them open with a fork.
Peasant Bread made with 50% White Whole Wheat flour:
Thank you King Arthur Flour for sponsoring this post!