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whole wheat pastry flour - offensively grainy or just pleasantly toothsome?

I accidentally bought a bag of whole wheat pastry flour to make a cake. Will my whole grain hating husband instantly feel the telltale "grit" or will it be ok? What do most people use it for? Is it perfectly interchangeable with the regular stuff? Does it alter flavor, or do people choose it for the health benefits?

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  1. It's heavy and lifeless, compared to white flour. I was horribly disappointed in it. My peach pie was awful made with it. Other things, too. A cake will suffer greatly. I ended up dumping mine because I couldn't even use it for bread (not enough protein). When you make a cake or pastry, you want white flour.

    1. If you do not enjoy the flavor of whole grains, and are making something you want to have a light and fine crumb, you should not use it.

      I like it a great deal, and use it in cookies, muffins, and quick breads. It is finer and lighter than traditional whole wheat flour, but it is 100% whole wheat and has no magic white flour-like properties. It's not the thing for a traditional cake, and yes, if your husband hates whole grains, he will not like it one bit. If you would like to try it out for something, sub it for half the AP flour in a quick bread and see how you feel.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I think muffins might be an excellent use of it. I just didn't think of that at the time. A muffin can handle the "heartiness" and weight of the flour.

      2. I find substituting half the amount of flour with whole wheat pastry flour in a cream biscuit recipe made it taste much lighter and flavorful than just all purpose white flour.

        I've not used it for cake, so can't comment on that. If you're worried about the grit you can always use a fine strainer to separate out the rougher bits.

        In general, Arrow Mill's WW pastry flour has a nice taste. Maybe it's usually fresher.

        1. oh dear. Thank you both for confirming my worst fears. I can't even return it because I dove into it to make waffles with the kids. They didn't like the waffles, but I figured it was because they were made with rice milk (for the allergy-addled son). sigh. So muffins are ok? How about dredging with it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: aforkcalledspoon

            Did you make waffles with 100% whole wheat or did you use 50/50 white-whole wheat blend? You could certainly use it for dredging, and might try to use blended in quick breads.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              I used 100%. I didn't realise until afterwards that the bag said whole grain. The disconcerted looks on the kids' faces tipped me off. Yes, I think that blending is key.

          2. I use a local (northern California) brand, Giusto's, all the time, for our weekly pancakes, muffins and quick breads, pie crusts (half-and-half with white). It's a very fine grind, very sweet and flavorful, and it gives a terrific rise. But once when my store was out, I picked up a bag of King Arthur, and it was awful, heavy, bitter-tasting. My kids didn't like those pancakes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: heidipie

              KAF whole wheat/white whole wheat, or actual WW pastry flour? I didn't know KAF WW pastry flour is even available retail in NorCal, if that was what you bought.

              I use WWPF from Rainbow grocery's bulk bin and it's awesome stuff. I've used it half-half with cake flour in genoise and it was light and not at all gritty or tannic.

              1. re: stilton

                I really don't remember which KAF it was, sorry. I think the bulk WWPF at Rainbow is Giusto's.

            2. Whole wheat pastry flours vary a great deal in how much bran is included as well as how fine they're ground. If yours has bits of bran in it, you can sift them out for a less gritty texture. I've made cakes with it, subbing 100% for white flour, but the results are markedly different from white flour cakes. If you and your family are not used to whole wheat, I'd recommend subbing only up to half the white flour in a recipe, and being choosy about where you use it. I find the flavor and texture works best in muffins, cookies, quick breads, and pancakes. I'd not recommend using it in cakes or any yeast doughs, where it would affect the texture and rise a lot.

              One thing to know about whole grain flour batters and doughs--the longer the mixture sits, the flour will absorb more of the liquid. So, you may find that a batter or cookie dough will seem loose upon first mixing, but after a ten or fifteen minute rest, it will be the right consistency. So don't add more flour, thinking something's wrong. It just takes more time to absorb liquid and come together. Check your library for a copy of King Arthur Flour Company's Whole Grain Baking cookbook, where you'll find lots of recipes to use up that bag of whole wheat pastry flour with good results.

              2 Replies
              1. re: amyzan

                wow, great tips. I will definitely sift today, and thank you for letting me know about resting time. I did try to make soup dumplings with them yesterday, the batter seemed way too dry, added way too much water, and ended up wtih sodden lumps. Mind you, that could just be my cooking. sigh. My learning curve is so embarrassingly shallow.

                1. re: aforkcalledspoon

                  I second the recommendation of KA's Whole Grain cookbook. You can substitute half whole wheat pastry flour for half white flour in some recipes for white flour but I've needed to play around with some to make them taste right. With the cookbook, recipes made for whole grains, it's been done for you and final results are better. Plus, there are good suggestions on cooking with whole grains (eg. adding acid like orange juice make it better). The whole grain brownies in the book are great, btw, very fudgy.


                  But, if you're using regular recipes, I'd only use half ww pastry flour/white ww flour in heartier goods like muffins, definitely not something as light as soup dumplings. Also, ww is higher in protein so I use a little more liquids to compensate.

              2. I use Bob's Red Mill, Portland OR company, with great results. I use 1/2 and 1/2 for pancakes, cakes, muffins, quick breads, pie/turnover dough, waffles and even doughnuts!

                I replace up to 100% for biscuits and banana pancakes for my family. I also use it for coating meats and as a thickener for gravy at home.

                It has been my staple flour for the past 4 years and no one, at home or customer, has ever noticed that I am using whole wheat. I have never tried any other brand, as this is the only one available to me, but I think I'll stick with it.

                But never use it for yeast bread!!!