New white flour packs a wheat punch


I was in a cooking mood the other day, and decided to try out my 100 percent white whole wheat flour. It's great!

This is whole wheat that looks white, cooks white and tastes white, but offers all the whole-grain goodness of whole wheat flour. There are some real nutritional benefits here.

The bulk of grain products eaten in the United States (breads, rolls, muffins, crackers, pretzels, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and noodles) are made from enriched white flour. Because milling wheat removes most of the vitamins and minerals along with the bran and the germ, the enriching process restores three B vitamins (niacin, thiamin and riboflavin) to their natural levels. The flour is also fortified with iron to a higher-than-natural level. So the end product is a good source of complex carbohydrates, three B vitamins and more iron than you'd get from whole wheat flour.

But the original whole wheat contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, chromium, and selenium, several B vitamins including B-6, folic acid, and pantothenic acid, and vitamin E. These nutrients, processed out to make white enriched flour, are not restored during the enriching process. So if you're not eating any whole wheat products, you're missing some good nutrition.

Most whole wheat products, however, have a bitter taste arising from the strong phenolic compounds in red wheats traditionally grown in America. Milling gets rid of the bitter taste so white enriched products have a light, sweet flavor, but whole wheat products are a little more "hearty."

But now comes 100 percent white whole wheat. Developed in the '70s by Kansas State University, this hard white winter wheat contains all the wheat germ and bran of red wheat, but without the bitter flavor. The flour is actually a light golden color, flecked with pale bran, and can be substituted in exact measure for all-purpose enriched white flour in most recipes.

Susan Killoran, public relations director for distributor King Arthur Flour, suggests using some white enriched flour in baking yeast breads to get the volume you expect from white bread. However, the recipe I tried was made from 100 percent white whole wheat. It didn't get as high, but the texture was much lighter and the flavor was mild. Call (800) 827-6836 for the King Arthur catalog.

Herb & Cheese Bread

L 5 1/2 to 6 cups King Arthur 100 percent White Whole Wheat Flour

2 packets active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs, including basil, oregano, thyme and/or tarragon or 1/4 cup dried herbs

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, cheese, herbs and soda. Set aside.

Heat buttermilk and water in a saucepan, over medium heat, or in a microwave, to a temperature of about 120-130 degrees (a little warmer than lukewarm). Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients; beat for 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a stiff batter.

Grease two 8 1/2 -inch x 4 1/2 -inch loaf pans. Spoon batter into pans. Set aside to rise till doubled, 30-45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 25 minutes, or until bread tests done.

Remove from oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant at the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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