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Can you easily replace wheat flour for white flour? [Moved from General Topics board]

Just curious if anyone has switched out white flour for wheat when baking, being a healthier alternative. If you have, could you truly tell the difference or is it best to keep things as is and just limit the baking all together (sad thought).

Also, I tried to use agave nectar as a substitute for sugar when I baked a lemon cake recently. I heard that 1/3 agave=1 cup of sugar. What it did equal was a super flat and stiff frisbee of a cake. So, any words of wisdom here would be appreciated as well.

If I could keep eating the good stuff, I would eat it every day, but we all know that doesn't make for a healthy girl. (More sad thought here....)

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  1. Differences in gluten content mean that the difference in flours shows up more in some recipes than others. You can't predict using one simple rule. Best to check out recipes developed specially for whole wheat flour.

    Now having said all that I have gradually snuck in a lot of whole wheat flour in recipes for cookies, crisps and crumbles and even cake recipes (like apple and plum cakes) without losing out on any texture or flavour.

    Good luck!

    1. My experience says no, it doesn't really work to swap out whole wheat flour for all purpose flour in a recipe based on all purpose flour. They tend to be leaden, flat and tough. King Arthur has a "Whole Grain Baking" book that is really excellent. Or you can search for recipes designed for whole wheat flour...Alton Brown's waffle recipe, for example uses a combination of both.

      So, I'm not sure you need to limit the baking, just seek out recipes designed for the products you want to use.

      1. When making quick breads and some cookies (jam cookies specifically) I've been able to swap half of the white flour for wheat and it has worked.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LisaN

          My experience is that replacing 1/2 to 1/3 of the white flour with wheat works okay. Much more than that and I haven't been happy with the result.

          1. re: Caroline1

            I agree with swapping 1/2 ...any more than that results in a somewhat leaden baked good.

            1. re: Val

              Add me to the group that agrees with swapping half the flour. I make a Banana Bread that originally called for 1 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup w/w and I've been able to switch them without sacrificing taste or texture. Bonnie Stern's Complete Heartsmart cookbook has a lot of recipes that use a mixture of w/w and a-p flour.

              As for making sweettoothT a healthy girl - I'm in the same boat and I haven't quit eating fun food I just eat less of it and I've dropped 20+lbs in the past 4 months. Check out: www.calorie-count.com I'm not saying counting calories works for everybody, it's a lifestyle change that's for sure... but it's not a deprivation diet by any means...it just makes you more aware of what you're taking in so (if you're me) you don't give yourself permission at the end of the day to eat that extra <fill in the 500 calorie blank>.

              Hope that helps :-)

        2. I have found the King Arthur whole wheat white(orange bag) can be reliably swapped for white AP in all recipes. I have used this as my standard AP for 2 years, and I prefer it now. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/flour/...

          1. Flour change can make big differences in end results. Expect something made with whole wheat or other forms of flour to be more dense than stuff made with all purpose white.

            This weekend I make pumkin muffins using buckwheat flour on a whim from a tip at the local coop. They use buckwheat flour for the brownies, I bought a bunch of it to make brownies -- never did, but thought it might work for the muffins. They came out dense, moist, but remarkably less sweet than using all purpose white flour and the same amount of sugar.

            I've also started trying to use fats that don't contain trans fat in baking. Goodbye crisco hello butter and trans fat free substitutes. I did make some pie crusts with earth balance and different types of flour. I noticed that their is a remarkable difference using something like whole wheat pastry flour and earth balance rather than earth balance and regular all purpose flour. While crisco and regular flour make a good crust, earth balance and regular flour makes a tougher crust (or I was having an off pastry day). Whole wheat pastry flour and earth balance though did make a nice, tender, earthy pastry.

            1. My family could tell the difference if I made any changes and we didn't like it one bit. Wheat flour tastes different. Period. Other forms of sugar behave differently as does the wheat flour. Making accommodations for those changes alters the final results of baked goods.
              Baking is chemistry and physics. You can't make changes without expecting a different end product. If you're willing to accept that, experiment with any changes you want, but don't consider it the same recipe.

              I decided that I'd use the same high quality products that I had always used but we'd consume less. The trade-off is that we don't eat commercial baked good made with chemicals, unpronounceable ingredients and preservatives. We eat more fruit.
              For us, that was the healthier choice and we didn't have to sacrifice flavor or eat things we didn't like.

              1. Try using whole wheat pastry flour. This stuff is much lighter than standard whole wheat flour, so it acts more like white flour. I can substitute up to 2/3rds without problems in things like banana bread and muffins - but you can taste the difference. I like the taste of whole wheat, so I prefer it that way.

                [Edited to add] I second the recommendation for King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking Book (although the recipes are NOT low fat or low cal). Some recipes are available online:



                1. I've been using King Arthur's whole wheat white for the past few months and have noticed a few things. With fried chicken and as a coating for fried food, it makes the crust a LOT crispier, and IMO tastier. For cookies, it's a little rough and the cookies have a heavier texture. It's just fine in zucchini and banana bread and bundt cake. And the cobbler I made was quite tasty. I'm finding this to be a great alternative for general cooking. I'd still keep some real unbleached white around for the times when a fine flour texture is necessary to the taste of the end result, e.g., some pie crusts, cookies and cakes.

                  1. You can substitute, and you can tell the difference. Whether you will like the result, depends in part on your taste and expectations.

                    For cakes, stick with white.
                    For muffins and quick breads, experiment as much you like. My current favorite 'pumpkin bread' substitutes half white whole wheat, and half any-thing-else for the white.
                    For yeast bread - I'm sure you have tried various commercial whole wheat or whole grain breads. Stick with white if you want wonder-bread or a crisp crust baguette. Substituting some white whole wheat in a Bittman no-kneed recipe produces a softer crust.


                    1. Like other posters, I use half white whole wheat and half white. It makes a slightly heartier, denser product but now when we go back to all white, it doesn't taste right--like it doesn't have enough substance, if that makes sense.