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Jul 27, 2008 03:20 PM

Whole Grain Bakers - Need to "soften" hard flour

I grind wheat berries into flour in my VitaMix. I bought high-protein, hard white berries in bulk.
I've used some to make muffins and quick breads and, while tasty, are not as delicate as I'd like. The answer no doubt is using soft, white wheat berries to grind into pastry flour, but I'd like to use what I currently have. My question: Do you think I could "soften" my high-protein flour by using, say, 2 T oat flour, spelt flour, or barley flour for 2 T of the hard wheat flour? Any other suggestions?
Thanks, Ginny

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  1. Not knowing how much you want to "soften" the hard flour or how much hard flour you're using in your recipe, it's difficult to judge what affect 2 Tbsp of anything might have. Because it contains much less gluten than the whole grain flour, I might try substituting a portion of cake flour for some of the high-protein flour in your recipe.

    1. It is very hard to use hard wheat flour alone for any of the non-yeast recipes. I suggest you use part all purpose flour. Start with half and half and if that is OK, reduce the AP flour a little for the next thing you do, and keep on going until you get something that meets your standard.

      1. Spelt flour will contain gluten precursors. Any gluten-free flour that you add must be added in a proportion so large that the addition will notably affect the flavor of your quick bread. I don't make quick bread often, and I haven't made it with flour I've milled myself, but my guess would be that up to about half of your flour mix would be a gluten-green meal or flour. Think cornbread, which is often half and half--though the bran in your flour will skew the mix. So I would start with about 1/3 other flour.
        My personal preferencebased on experience with yeasted hard white wheat breads, would be oat flour. Years back, we often added millet.
        Do let us know what works out finally.

        1. Subbing 2 TBS of cornstarch for part of all-purpose flour is a common technique to turn AP flour into something approaching cake flour's protein levels. For softening hard wheat flour, you might want to play around with the amount of cornstarch to sub and note how X amount affects a finished baked good for future reference.

          1. I generally use a half and half mixture of unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour for most anything I make that calls for "all purpose flour". I suggest trying some different ratios to get to a texture that you like.

            If the recipe calls for egg(s) try separating out the whites and beat until soft peaks form. Go ahead with the rest of the recipe using the yolks as directed for the whole eggs and then fold in the beaten whites near the end. Don't over mix once the whites are added so they don't deflate. This adds more lightness to the recipe in the form of air.

            While I have never tried it, I have heard that using milk as part of the liquid adds a lighter texture than say, water.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Springhaze2

              Thanks to all who have responded. I'm trying hard to get completely away from white flour and other refined starches, so my experiments will be using whole oat, barley, or possibly millet flour. I've even read of kamut flour giving a buttery taste. I'll start with one-third replacement and see how it goes. I do not expect white flour lightness but I'd like to have tender quick breads.