Have you ever looked at a list of whole grains and wondered how to use them in baking as opposed to cooking them? We get questioned often on Organic Grains about whole grain baking. Our pastry chef got together with our food scientist and they put together this guide to help you on your journey toward using more grain. We hope it helps!
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 ‘sheetability’ 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, and buckwheat, We use and mostly whole grain flours and particulates, as opposed to refined. Although some circles have a much broader definition, these are the grains that are most commonly considered to be “ancient”. Use fresh-milled flours and meals whenever possible for best quality and no rancid-fat flavor notes. Store meals and 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 most often used in cakes, cookies, crackers, flat-breads, tortillas, and muffins.
15% 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 moderate flavor, texture and functional (processing) impact of individual grains, as well as to reduce the cost impact.
Match the absorption and flavor to the application
Sorghum – low hydration – mild, low 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 (use the sprouted variety for best flour flavor)
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 strength of the wheat flavor (red wheat being the strongest 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 (stronger wheat flavor)
Kamut® Khorasan wheat berries (mild wheat flavor)
Einkorn Wheat (mild wheat flavor)
- Spelt (lower protein content so increase mixing time)
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.
- 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 to baking with whole grain, but these are the most basic uses and tips. Happy baking!