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18 January 2011


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I have personally struggled with the Bittman muffin recipe. It could just be the whole wheat flour I'm using or the flour could be old, but every time I substitute for all the flour, the muffins are just not good. They are better when I use only half and I can say that we ate at least half whole grain. What kind of flour do you use?


To add on to the end: "After all, people used to cook everything with whole wheat flour because white flour didn't exist."

Mary -- are you using whole wheat pastry flour? It does make a difference, I find.


I use Dakota Maid brand whole wheat flour. I definitely notice a difference with some brands of whole wheat flour. For instance, I *****HATE***** to bake with Bob's Red Mill brand because it is so coarse. A finer ground flour made from hard red winter wheat works better. I swear by Dakota Maid, but if I couldn't get it I would use pastry flour and add gluten to make up for the low protein (unless it was supposed to be soft, like in pancakes).


I will have to try pastry flour.


I should add that stuff made with whole wheat definitely tastes different from stuff made with white flour, and so I can understand it if people prefer not to use 100% whole wheat. I never make 100% whole grain pizza dough, for instance, just because I like it better with 50% bread flour; and if I make sandwich bread for a bunch of kids who aren't mine, I often go down to 50% just to be safe. But I just don't understand why, in a cookbook that offers dozens of variations-on-a-theme, there isn't even a suggestion that you *could* make a completely whole-grain baked good -- even in those baked goods where nobody could tell the difference (hello?!? brownies?!?!)


I admit to being shy of adding too much ww flour to my recipes. I've been using white whole wheat flour from King Arthur. It give a milder ww flavor. But then, I'm feeding a crowd that likes anything from Hostess over my homemade things. This is a problem "from the top" (ahem) in my house, so I'm looking for more ways to be sneaky about whole grains. I made a muffin recipe from Simple Bites the other day, with soaked oats in it, and it was declared, "not like the ones in the store". "You mean the ones that are glorified cupcakes?" I asked.


LOL at "from the top (ahem)."

Everybody has their health-food line they won't cross, I guess. I tend to be a little bit obsessive about white flour. My mother drew the line at mac 'n' cheese from a box; mine's a little farther back!

Pancakes and waffles strike me as a good place to start getting used to whole grain because they're generally soaked in syrup anyway. With muffins and breads, I think one thing that may help make it more acceptable is to increase the sugar in the recipe while you increase the whole wheat. Whole wheat does have a slight bitterness to it that might be offset by more sugar. It's a tradeoff, but I think the benefits of whole grain are maybe better than the harm of a couple extra teaspoons of sugar, especially if you can train the family to accept whole wheat stuff in general.

IOW, try making muffins that are as *Sweet* as the store bought ones (to start with anyway) but not made with all white flour.


(oh, when I said "a couple of extra teaspoons of sugar" I meant per person per day, not per recipe. I'm talking about doubling or tripling the sugar in your muffin recipe -- depending on how much sugar you already use -- so that the muffins are noticeably sweeter. So, half a cup of sugar or more in a dozen muffins.)


I think in the past that it was more of a textural problem than a taste problem. The muffins were just too dense, even when I thought I used a generous amount of baking powder.

Christy Porucznik

Nearly fell off my chair about the half a cup of sugar in a dozen muffins. In nearly every baked good, I use only 2/3 of the suggested sugar to no ill effect. My whole-wheat sourdough muffins, for example, 3T maple syrup for 2 dozen smallish muffins. The dried fruit adds more sweetness if used.

Guess we have trained our tastebuds!

Christy Porucznik

Did you actually send this to him?


No, I didn't send it to him personally, it's just "open."

I agree with you that most baked good recipes suggest more sugar than necessary. I am merely suggesting that if children or spouses dislike the flavor of whole grain baked goods, perhaps extra sugar could help.

I add about 1/4 cup sugar per dozen muffins typically, more if the muffins contain blueberries or fresh cranberries because they seem more balanced that way. I could eat them with less, but that's about how the troops like them around here.

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