As much as possible I do not
use refined white flour any more. For health benefits I have changed to whole
wheat. I buy the wheat berries from my health food co-op (they can also be found
in health food stores or online sources). I grind these berries into flour for
all of my bread baking (you can read here for why I do this).
The reasons I stay away from white flour are many. The bran and germ have been removed and in whole wheat (or any whole grain) they have not. White flour has been refined and processed and has had a very high percentage of its vitamins and minerals removed (I have read 80 to 98% on some vitamins and minerals) as well as nearly 90% of its fiber. What is put back into the flour in the way of enrichment cannot even begin to compensate for what they remove.
Whole-wheat flour can be a bit confusing because there are a few things to understand before you use it in order to have good success in your baked goods. There are 2 basic types of wheat; hard wheat and soft wheat.
Hard wheat (also called hard winter wheat) is used for any baked goods that have yeast added to them. Hard wheat has a higher gluten content and this is what gives the bread it elasticity and makes it rise so beautifully. There are two different types of hard wheat available, red and white. Red is darker in color and has a stronger taste. White has a nice light color and light taste. Hard white wheat has become my most favored in bread baking.
Soft white wheat (or soft spring wheat as it can also be referred to), is known as pastry flour. This is used in all baking that requires baking power or soda (quick breads) for leavening. Pastry flour has less protein, therefore less gluten content and gives your quick breads a nice light texture as apposed to a heavier dense texture.
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