whole wheat flour
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Also Known as
Gehun ka atta, whole meal flour
The word "whole" refers to the fact that all of the grain (bran, germ and endosperm) is used and nothing is lost in the process of making the flour. This is in contrast to white, refined flours, which contain only the endosperm.
Whole wheat flour is brown in colour as it is derived from the complete wheat kernel. It has a sweet and nutty flavour too. The whole wheat flour may be bleached or unbleached. Bleached whole wheat flour is lighter in colour than unbleached whole wheat flour. You can grind the wheat to get coarse or fine textured flour as per recipe requirements.
How to Select
• Whole wheat flour is available prepackaged. However, have a good look at the label before buying. Look for products that have "100 per cent whole wheat" on the label. Labels such as "stone-ground", "seven-grain", and "multigrain" often do not contain whole wheat flour and are not as nutritious.
• Goods made of whole wheat flour are also available; however you need to be careful in choosing wisely. Don't be misled by darker coloured breads, as some companies simply add caramel colouring or molasses to give a browner colour. Look for "whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient. Avoid products whose first ingredient is "wheat flour" or "enriched flour" as they generally do not contain whole wheat flour.
• Products with whole wheat flour might not be as tasty as those made with refined flour. Nevertheless, for its health benefits we have to practice our palate to like it.
• Whole wheat flour tends to produce baked goods with a heavy, dense texture as well as a bitter taste, especially when used in recipes developed for all-purpose flour.
• Start by replacing only part of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat. This significantly ups the recipe's whole grain count, but prevents the baked goods from becoming too dense. It also minimises the astringent flavours that some people dislike about whole wheat.
• Nevertheless, it is possible to make a high-rising, light loaf of 100% whole wheat bread, so long as one increases the water content of the dough (the bran and germ in whole wheat absorb more water than plain white flour), kneads the dough for a longer period of time to develop the gluten adequately, and allows for a longer rise before shaping the dough.
• Some bakers let the dough rise twice before shaping.
• The addition of fats, such as butter or oil, and milk products (fresh milk, powdered milk, buttermilk, yogurt, etc.) can also greatly assist the rise.
• In India, whole wheat flour is extensively used to make dishes like roti, paratha and sheera.
• It can also be used to make pasta and noodles.
How to Store
• Whole wheat flour is more susceptible to spoilage than other flours because it contains the oils from the bran that can become rancid.
• If the flour is stored at room temperature, try to use it within a week or two.
• Otherwise you can store the flour in the fridge or freezer for up to a year.
• Wheat flour is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion. This helps diabetics to keep their blood glucose in check.
• Consuming wheat flour regularly can help avoid gall stones.
• It promotes gastrointestinal health, and acts as a laxative.
• The fibre present in the flour helps to keep the gastrointestinal tract functioning normally and may help prevent more serious problems such as colon cancer, diverticulosis, and hemorrhoids.
• Whole wheat flour may also reduce the risk for diabetes and coronary artery disease.
• It also contains healthy phytochemicals, including antioxidants, which may help ward off cancer.