Whole grains are good for us — we all know that. But did you know that there is a red and a white wheat variety?
Red Or White Wheat
Wheat flour can be made from the popular red wheat but also from white wheat. As a wheat variety, white wheat is a derivative of red wheat but is not to be mistaken for the processed white, all-purpose flour found on most baking shelves.
I recently came across a bag of white whole wheat flour in a store and began to wonder if white whole wheat flour is just another processed, ’empty,’ white flour. Not so! Here is what I learned while discovering artisan bread recipes made with white whole wheat flour.
Both red and white whole wheat flour are considered healthier options compared to refined white flour, which is, ironically, most likely made from red wheat. Both red and white whole wheat flour retain the bran, germ, and endosperm of the red or white wheat kernel, providing a higher fiber content and a broader range of nutrients.
Red whole wheat and white whole wheat are both wheat varieties, but they have some differences in color, taste, and nutritional composition.
- Color: Red whole wheat has a darker color due to the presence of a pigment called anthocyanin, which gives it a reddish-brown hue. White whole wheat, on the other hand, has a lighter color, similar to traditional refined white flour.
- Taste: Red whole wheat tends to have a slightly stronger and nuttier flavor compared to white whole wheat. The presence of bran and germ in both types of wheat contributes to their distinct taste.
- Nutritional Composition: Both red and white whole wheat are considered whole grains and are generally healthier choices compared to refined flours. However, there are some differences in their nutritional composition:
- Red whole wheat: It contains higher levels of dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants compared to white whole wheat. The presence of anthocyanin pigments in red wheat also contributes to its higher antioxidant content.
- White whole wheat: While it has a milder taste, it retains most of the nutritional benefits of red whole wheat. It contains similar fiber and essential nutrients but may have slightly lower levels of certain antioxidants.
- Baking Properties: White whole wheat flour is often preferred for baking due to its lighter color and milder flavor, which can be more appealing in certain recipes where the taste of whole wheat is not desired. Red whole wheat flour’s darker color and stronger flavor may be more suitable for recipes with a desired heartier taste and appearance.
In whole wheat flour, the total protein content is higher than in processed white flour. This might lead one to think whole wheat bread might rise the highest of all, but that is not how whole wheat bakes. Whole wheat flour contains all the parts of the wheat berry, including the bran and the germ. When ground, Bran has sharp edges that can cut the gluten strands that form in the dough, which is why whole grain loaves can be shorter and denser than those made with processed white flour.
With 12.2% protein, white whole wheat flour is a tad lower in protein than red whole wheat flour, with which I have baked good boules. But white whole wheat flour offers the wholesomeness of whole wheat with the performance of all-purpose.
I recently picked up a 5lb bag of Farmer Direct Foods flour at a Smart & Final grocery store in Sacramento. It is the same flour sold as such by King Arthur’s Baking Company. I am eager to try this flour in my sourdough starter and my final bread dough in a few days.
But Wait, There Is More To Flour!
Substituting white whole wheat for all-purpose flour in many of one’s favorite “white flour” recipes can be a piece of cake — pun intended! Check out King Arthur’s Baking Company’s guides to whole grains at https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/guides/whole-grains.
And then there is Tom C.’s long but very interesting video on experimenting with bread flour. I really appreciate that man’s effort.