The Beginner’s Guide To Baking with Whole Grain

Our pastry chef got together with our world-renowned food scientist, and they put together these essential tips to help guide you on your journey toward using more grain. We hope it helps!
baked muffins side by side interior texture

Have you ever looked at a list of whole grains and wondered how to use them in baking instead of cooking them? We get questioned about whole grain baking often. This baking guide covers some of the basics but it will help you immensely.

Doughs made with whole grains have:

  • Higher liquid/absorption requirements
  • Reduced mixing requirements
  • Lower tolerance to over-mixing
  • The inclusion of whole grains may influence the ‘sheet ability’ and cohesiveness of the dough.
  • May need to adjust baking time and temperature to ensure the target moisture content is achieved while avoiding excessive browning.

Ancient Grain Baking tips

Most of our ancient grains experience is in the realm of quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, millet, teff, and some with buckwheat. We use mostly the whole grain flours and particulates, as opposed to refined flours. Although some circles have a much broader definition, these are the grains that are most commonly considered to be “ancient.” Use fresh-milled meals whenever possible for the best quality and no rancid-fat flavor notes. Store meal flours in a cool, dry place for best results. These flours are gluten-free and therefore need to be either used with xanthan gum, eggs, or coupled with wheat flour to achieve good textures in baking. These flours and meals are often used in cakes, cookies, crackers, flat-breads, tortillas, and muffins.

  • 15% of flour basis usage is a good starting point in a wide range of baked goods and other grain-based foods.
  • Up to 25% flour basis can be used in wheat-based bread with relative ease.
    Up to 50%, flour basis can easily be used in muffins, pancakes, and other quick bread, as well as cookies.
  • Utilize multigrain blends to help the moderate flavor, texture, and functional (processing) impact of individual grains and reduce the cost impact.
  • Match the absorption and taste of the application.

Flavor profiles and hydration of some ancient grains

  • Sorghum – low hydration – mild, soft impact flavor, light corn flavor notes
  • Millet – low hydration – bland, low impact flavor, but baking can sometimes result in bitter notes (especially in the crust or low moisture baked goods like cookies)
  • Amaranth – strong hydration – earthy flavor with fresh corn husk/silk notes
  • Quinoa – moderate hydration – corn and legume flavor notes

Usage example – in cookies have found that sorghum and millet impart crunchiness, while whole quinoa flour results in a softer texture.

For Bread Use Hard wheat

Depending on the wheat flavor’s strength (red wheat being the most assertive flavor), the bread can change a lot with those flavor changes. The protein content of all these berries will give you excellent bread:

  • hard white wheat (mild wheat flavor)
  • hard red wheat (more robust wheat flavor)
  • Kamut® Khorasan wheat berries (mild wheat flavor)
  • Einkorn Wheat (mild flavor)

Strategies for increasing whole grain consumption

  • Substitute whole grains in your favorite recipes, eg.
  • 10-15% requires little to no adjustment.
  • 50%usually requires more liquid and reduced mix time in bread.

Pairings

  • Use light-colored whole grains in lighter colored foods (e.g., millet or white whole wheat in a sugar cookie or pie crust and darker whole grains in darker colored foods (e.g., buckwheat or rye in a brownie).

Of course, there are many other tips for baking with whole grain, but these are the most basic uses and directions. Happy baking!

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