Cooking With Wheat Vs. White Flour

freshly baked bread


Whole grain flour is a healthy addition to your family's diet. When you substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, you may need to make other minor adjustments in the recipe to ensure success. Cooking with wheat flour versus white flour boosts nutrition and enhances flavors.


As much as 40 percent of the whole wheat grains may be removed to produce all-purpose flour. This means that the nutritious bran and germ of the grain is missing from this flour, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods website. Because nutrients like folic acid, B Vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and fiber also disappear in the process of turning whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour, the resulting flour receives “enriching” to return these nutrients to it.


When you bake with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, you may notice your foods look and feel heavier and denser due to the lower gluten content. For bread making, hard whole wheat flour is the suitable choice to produce a tender loaf of bread because of the higher gluten content. For making pastries and cakes, use whole wheat pastry flour, made from soft wheat kernels, to make fluffier confections.

Recipe Adjustments

Make slight adjustments to a recipe to make it less dense, if you desire. By sifting the flour once or twice as you add it to the recipe, the flour will seem lighter and fluffier. Try adding 1 tbsp. of vital wheat gluten, available in the baking section of your supermarket, for every cup of whole-wheat flour to make bread rise higher. Because whole-wheat flour absorbs more liquid in a recipe, you may need to increase the wet ingredients slightly to get the same consistency. Experiment by adding extra liquid in 1 tablespoon increments until the batter or dough looks the way you desire.

Recipes to Try

Virtually anything you make with all-purpose flour can work with whole-wheat flour, as long as you experiment and adjust as necessary. Cookies, cakes, muffins and quick breads containing only whole wheat flour have a coarse texture and nutty flavor. Making bread with whole wheat flour will produce bread that rises sufficiently as long as you add vital wheat gluten. Pastry recipes that require a lighter grain, such as croissants or angel food cake, may not be suitable for using 100 percent whole wheat flour. In these recipes, consider replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour instead.