Going Against The Grain

January 15, 2009 at 9:22 am

Melissa Graham

Growing up in a German family, our daily bread was rarely white. Dark-hued rye and pumpernickel were far more common. This was fine with me at least until I went to school. Seduced by the soft, squeezy texture of the white bread found in most of my friend’s lunch bags, I was done with whole grains. When I saw the bright colored, bubbly bag of the wonderful Wonder bread – Yowsa! “Air sots!” my mother would exclaim – not that I understood what those were, I assumed it was whatever gave it that beguiling texture and wan shade.

Fortunately, my palate grew up. As I started to cook for myself, most of the books I chose called for unbleached flour over bleached. When I started to bake bread, I discovered a whole new world of ingredients, such as wheatberries, spelt, teff, and farro. Gradually, my bread began to darken.

It’s pretty well-established that whole grains are good for you. Heart-healthy and high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential fatty acids, they regulate our systems in more way than one. What you may not know is that whole grains are also better for the planet. Whole grains and products made from whole grains are less processed than their counterparts and the more processed a food is, the greater the cost to the environment.

Both of these are very good reasons why you should eat more whole grains, but they certainly don’t address why you should want to. If you are, or if you cook for someone who’s palate hasn’t matured beyond the air sots, ethics provide little incentive. These folks need some more coaxing to come over to the dark side and I have an ingredient that will aid in that persuasion.

Whole wheat pasty flour, also known as Graham flour, is milled from soft Winter wheat. It has less gluten and more starch so it creates a softer dough or batter than whole wheat flour. It allows you to add whole grains to your pancakes and pastries without making them heavy. I keep a bag in my freezer and substitute it for or add it to the all-purpose flour called for in many of my baking recipes. It’s a good step towards converting even the worst grain-a-phobe.

Here are two recipes using whole wheat pastry flour that are great ways to introduce whole grains into your cooking:

Recipe: Sneak-It-In Pizza

Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

For additional whole grain recipes, try King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.