Baking with whole grains: tips for success

grainhorizon

grainhorizon

Properly stored, whole grains can last almost forever. To avoid pantry moths, keep grain in covered containers in a cool, dry place (the freezer is great) until ready to use. Whole-grain flour is another story, however. It should be stored in the freezer, but for the best flavor, flours should be used soon after milling.

Try experimenting with different grains and different combinations of them. Thanks to the variety of grains available, you can try using spelt, emmer, rye, triticale … Find your perfect flavors and create your own “house” flour blend!

Whole-grain flours can feel gritty when you work with them, and they need a little more time to absorb liquids. Especially in bread recipes, like the chapati, you’ll get better results if you let your dough rest: a sticky dough can become supple and easy to work with.

A common warning when baking is that a lot of stirring can toughen up baking goods. That is true with flours that have had the bran removed (like all-purpose flour)––overworking forms gluten strands that can toughen up your baked goods. But in the case of whole-grain flour, the bran “cuts” the gluten strands and keeps things tender. This is why the pancakes in this recipe don’t become leaden hockey pucks, even after taking many spins around a blender.

Want more whole-grain goodness? Read on!

Going with the Grain

The Hardwick Loaf

Finding Your Perfect Flour

Blender Milling

Recipes

Blender Pancakes

Cheddar, Black Pepper & Chive Bread

Walnut-Pear Cake

Whole-Grain Chapati

Mill grains at home: In your blender!

If you own a home-sized mill you’re already one step ahead. But if you’re just starting out, you can start out by milling at home in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. We used a Vitamix to mill the flour for all the recipes in this issue.  Vitamix suggests you purchase a special milling canister if you want to mill flour as the plastic canister can scratch, but we decided to risk it.

A blender will heat the grains quite a bit as they get ground up, so it’s best to mill exactly what you need for a recipe––usually about two cups for these recipes. Just add the grains, and start blending! For best results, we blended on high for about 45 seconds, shook the canister to redistribute the flour and then blended again for about 30 more seconds. This yields a fluffy, nutty flour with a slightly gritty feel. If you want a finer flour, mill only one cup of grain, or less, at a time.

Want more whole-grain goodness? Read on!

Going With the Grain 

Tips for Success

The Hardwick Loaf

Finding Your Perfect Flour

Recipes

Blender Pancakes

Cheddar, Black Pepper & Chive Bread

Walnut-Pear Cake

Whole-Grain Chapati