HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Whole Wheat Flour

Hi. I'm completely new to the baking game. I'm going to try to make some dessert this weekend, and I already have King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. First, is it best to use whole wheat flour only when the recipe calls for it, or is it interchangeable? And second, anybody have favorite desserts that are made with whole wheat flour?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. first time around, it's generally better to use what's listed in a recipe. that being said, ww flour creates a much heavier, denser product than white, with a slightly fuller flavor. products made from ww also do not rise as high.

    1. It's generally a good flavor/texture/health compromise to sub in 1/3-1/2 ww flour, but it would help if we knew what kind of dessert you were planning on making as, for instance, pie crust would be a different issue than, say, pound cake.

      1. Whole wheat flour works great in breads like banana or zucchini or something with chocolate chips, all of which make delish deserts, warmed up with some butter...

        1. I wouldn't replace it for the reasons above--if you haven't baked much and haven't used whole wheat flour, you don't just replace all purpose flour with it. King Arthur has good recipes in its whole wheat cookbook, and many are online. I really like the brownies recipe but it calls for white whole wheat and regular would change the texture.


          You can replace up to half in denser desserts, as CoryKatherine said, but I also increase the liquids, somewhat, or add some orange juice but that requires experimenting.

          1. if you are interested in using whole wheat in desserts, you may want to invest in a bag of "Whole wheat PASTRY flour". I have better results when subbing 1/2 or more of this in my cookies and muffins.

            regular whole wheat is a bit too heavy for everyday quick bread baking. i usually put some in yeasted breads and moist chocolate banana breads in conjunction with wheat germ for the fiber boost.

            1 Reply
            1. Generally you can substitue whole wheat for 1/3 of the flour in a recipe for baked goods. Whole wheat flour that is listed as "graham" (ground finer I believe) works even better in baked goods but does not work as well in bread. For quick breads and muffins you may find you need a little more moisture and for yeast bread a little more yeast and moisture.

              1. Just a few basics: WW flour goes rancid easily. Refrigerate it, or better yet, freeze it, preferably in a glass jar since most plastics are somewhat air-permeable and the flour can pick up refrigerator odors. You can use it straight from the fridge/freezer without regard to its temperature. King Arthur also makes White Whole Wheat flour, which is 100% whole wheat but has a milder taste than regular whole wheat. It can be swapped for some or all of the flour in many baked goods without making a big flavor change. For example, I'd use white whole wheat for all the flour in chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, but half all-purpose, half regular whole wheat.

                I use a third to a half whole wheat (either kind) for pie crust because I like the flavor, but it makes the dough a lot harder to work with. Using all whole wheat would make it nearly impossible to roll out. The more delicate the dough, the less likely it is to be suitable for whole wheat flour.

                Since you are a novice baker, for your first Whole Wheat outing I'd suggest Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, or another sturdy cookie, brownies, or a fruit crisp. All whole wheat flour is fine for making crisp topping. A single-layer cake baked in a square or rectangular pan - such as carrot cake, applesauce cake, or spice cake - would also be fine with half or all whole wheat flour. These recipes are numerous. If you want something basic, try searching for such recipes on www.cdkitchen.com. The oatmeal cookie recipe on the lid of the Quaker Oats canister is a favorite of many bakers.

                So you are not discouraged by less-than-stellar results due to over or under-baking, a few basics to keep in mind, regardless of what flour you use:
                Cakes are done when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, but brownies baked to that standard are overdone. When you smell the chocolate aroma coming from the oven, it's usually time to pull out the pan. It will finish baking with the residual heat. Ditto for oatmeal and chocolate cookies. They may seem too soft but will harden quickly and should be promptly removed from the tray to a rack. By far the easiest is to line the sheet with parchment. When the cookie sheet comes out of the oven, grab an end of the parchment and slide it onto a rack. When the cookies are firm and cool, remove them from the parchment.

                2 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  cakes are the last place you want to use whole wheat, unless the recipe was developed for it.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I do it all the time for the type of cakes I mentioned. They don't have airy, delicate crumb so it's fine. I am happy to trade a little bit less height and a denser crumb for the better flavor and nutrient value of whole wheat.

                2. Thanks for the great responses. I'm kind of a fan of all desserts, so I'm not set on what I want to make yet. If somebody has an amazing carrot cake recipe that's not too difficult, that would be great. And I'm not beholden to using that flour. It's just that my aunt said she had that and I figured that I might as well use that first. But it seems like at the very least I would need to mix it with regular flour, so I'll just go with regular flour this first time. And if I don't do carrot cake, I'll probably do something with chocolate.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: rep123max

                    Actually, has anybody ever made these carrot cake cookies? http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... If you haven't, do you think it's doable? Lastly, do people ever mix chocolate with carrot cake or is that not a good combination? I've had the two cakes together and love it, but I'm wondering if anybody ever puts chocolate chips or something in carrot cake? That may be a stupid question and it may be a horrible combination; I'm just trying to learn.

                    1. re: rep123max

                      I have several times and they were a hit. Very addictive as a cookie. Use less honey because the filling is a little runny. The second time I made them I just made a cream cheese icing with confectioner's sugar, cream cheese and vanilla and it was fine

                      1. re: folprivate

                        Is there anyway you could tell me how to make your cream cheese icing with the right specifications for this recipe? And when it says 13 cookies, does that mean 13 singles or 13 cookie sandwiches? Thanks

                        1. re: rep123max

                          13 sandwiches. 8 oz cream cheese seems like way too much for that number of cookies. !t's 16 tablespoons. I'd use 4 oz, room temp, and stir in confectioner's sugar till you get the sweetness and firmness you prefer, then add 1/4 tsp vanilla and taste. You may want a total of 1/2 tsp vanilla. If you have too much icing you can freeze it for another use.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            hey! that looks really good! i think i'm going to make those carrot cake cookies for my office! I might have to use some old dried up currants from the cabinet though. i'll soak it in wark apple juice 1st. =)

                            what have we decided to do? i might do the 1st...

                            ww pastry flour + ww regular flour
                            ww white flour + ww regular flour
                            all ww white flour?

                          2. re: rep123max

                            I used 6oz (because that was what I had - I had used 2oz for a spinach pesto) Unfortunately when I make this icing I do as greygarious does and just add confectioners sugar until it has the tangy sweetness I want. start with 1/2 cup Then add about 1/2 tsp of vanilla to finish. Sometimes I add orange zest for additional flavor. It makes abou a dozen sandwiches.

                            1. re: folprivate

                              So do I put the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat in the sugar with an electronic beater? I'm very new to this. I've never made icing...

                              1. re: rep123max

                                Yes it will go much easier if you use a mixer. The cream cheese should be at room temperature (leave it on the counter for an hour) and it will mix better. The sugar is powdered sugar, also known as confectioners, not granulated sugar.

                                1. re: folprivate

                                  Also, you'll have an easier time of it if you sift the powdered sugar over the softened cream cheese, then stir a few times before turning on the beater. Powdered sugar clumps and lives up to its name by flying into a cloud if it is aerated before mixing into something damp or wet. If this is scaring you off, here's another method - I once thought I had the sugar, and didn't, so I stirred cream cheese and marshmallow fluff together, which yielded the same result with a wooden spoon and less clean-up.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    hi guys. I went off and made the carrot cake cookies. they are now in my office and i'm having a party in my cubicle.

                                    in light of using whole wheat, my intention is to make it a wee bit healthier.

                                    half white whole wheat, half whole wheat pastry, 1/8 ww flour
                                    half the butter, half cup of apple sauce (pureed a bruised apple)
                                    grated a bit more than the 1 cup of carrot (2 whole carrots)
                                    omitted the "+2 tbl" of both brown and white sugar (plenty sweet already)
                                    4 oz of cream cheese and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar

                                    i ended up with 20 cute muffin like cookies. they're yummy! put the nuts in, the texture is great in this...

                                    1. re: jeniyo

                                      Congratulations on your success and on being adventurous enough to get creative with the recipe. The old "baking is an exact science" may be true for finicky things like souffles, but much of baking is quite forgiving. During the 2007 holiday season, Trader Joe's sold "sipping chocolate" which was basically good quality sweetened cocoa powder. I wanted to use up the last of it, and made cookies with no recipe or measuring AT ALL. Added an egg, some butter, coconut, sugar, chopped pecans, baking powder, WWW flour, salt. The batter felt right, and tasted fine, so onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. I didn't even time them, just waited until I smelled chocolate and voila, 23 very nice cookies. No, I wouldn't have done this if I'd been baking for company or an event, and I couldn't have pulled it off without prior baking experience, but the point is that, unfortunately, many capable cooks are needlessly afraid to tinker with recipes.

                                      1. re: jeniyo

                                        Glad they worked. Nice changes to make it healthier. And as cookies they are more portion controlled than a slice of carrot cake.

                                        1. re: folprivate

                                          Just for clarification, do I need to add butter to the frosting? Or will it work with just cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract?


                                          1. re: rep123max

                                            "Mo' butter, mo' better" holds true here but no, you don't HAVE to use any butter, If you choose to include it, swapping as little as a quarter of the cream cheese for butter will make a difference.

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              i think also, if you live in a more humid/hotter area, you could consider the addition of butter. I live in S.cal so mine were pretty soft. But if you are wearing a sweater, you don't have to worry about it.

                              2. re: rep123max

                                Thanks for all the help. I made the carrot cake cookies and they were delicious. I did as recommended and just made a simple cream cheese frosting (with butter).

                        2. here's a carrot cake recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Carrot-C...
                          i'm sure if you read through the reviews you'll find at least 1 person that subbed whole wheat flour in it! :)

                          1. Here's an easy recipe using ww flour - a minimalist flat bread