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Vegetarian Journal 2002 Issue 1

Whole Grain Baking

by Nava Atlas

Few sensory experiences offer more pleasure than the wonderful flavors and aromas of homemade baked goods. Or better yet, hearty, nutty-flavored whole grain baked goods. Whole wheat flour is just one of several players in this healthful field that includes barley, oat, rye, and spelt flour, among others. Even if you don't have the time to make your own yeasted bread, quick baked goods can be equally rewarding.

The nutritional difference between refined and whole grain flours is significant. Grains that are refined before milling lose their germ and bran, and with them the loss of 50% or more of the B vitamins and minerals as well as much of the vitamin E content. While some of these nutrients are added back in the enrichment process, not all are. Enriched products still contain less magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and chromium than whole grain products. In cases where the bran is completely removed, almost all of the fiber content is lost. Whole grains are excellent sources of minerals, including iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. An excellent source of complex carbohydrates, whole grains, and their flour products can be one of the nutritional cornerstones of a healthy diet.

Baking at home creates an opportunity to make treats that are lower in fat and sugar than those you would buy in a store or a bakery. If you have children, it's a great way to get some whole grain goodness into their growing bodies. And most importantly, by baking at home, even if only occasionally, you convey to your family the connection between the heart and the hearth. Encouraging family members to join in the baking is a fabulous way to chase off winter doldrums. Warm, wholesome treats fresh from the oven nourish the body, soul, and senses all at once.

BUYING AND STORING WHOLE GRAIN FLOURS

Most natural foods stores and co-ops and some mainstream supermarkets carry an array of basic whole flours; well-stocked markets will also offer less common choices, such as oat, barley, and amaranth flours. Flour mills and mail-order sources are good bets, too. Purchase your whole grain flours from sources where you are confident there is a rapid turnover, to ensure freshness.

You'll notice that many of the flours and meals offered in natural foods stores are labeled stone ground. This is the traditional method of grinding grains with a stone mill. The grains are ground at a lower speed, generating less heat and thereby retaining more nutrients.

Because whole grain flours retain their natural oils when milled, they don't keep as long as their refined counterparts. Refrigerate whole grain flours that you plan to have on hand for more than two months. During warm months, it is best to refrigerate them at all times. If summer rolls around and you have little inclination to bake, you can even freeze flours in tightly-lidded containers. Otherwise, for normal use, keep flour in a cool, dry place in tightly-lidded jars or containers.

A good practice is not to buy more flour than you think you can use up within two to three months. Buy no more than one-pound bags of unusual flours that may be used only in small quantities or infrequently.

It's especially important to keep flours dry, since they absorb moisture easily.

MAKING THE MOST OF WHOLE GRAIN FLOURS

When using flours and meals other than the wheats, keep in mind that these have little ability to rise on their own. But by replacing 25% to 30% of the wheat flour in leavened breads, or up to 50% in other baked goods, you can enhance their flavor and nutritional content without diminishing their ability to rise. Still, expect whole grain baked goods to be denser and nuttier, and not as highly-risen as baked goods made with refined flours. Fortunately, it's a taste that's easy to acquire.

Try some of the following flours in combination with wheat flour in muffins, rolls, quick breads, and yeasted breads, or in combination with whole wheat pastry flour in cakes, scones, cookies, and brownies. For flatbreads and griddlecakes, you may experiment with proportions, or substitute all of the wheat flour with an alternative flour.

Amaranth Flour: Milled from the exceptionally nutritious seed crop that was long ago the staple food of the ancient Aztecs, amaranth flour has a distinctly nutty flavor and aroma. Combine with wheat flour or kamut flour, or for wheat-free baking, amaranth flour teams well with a lighter-textured flour such as barley.

Barley flour: This delicate flour contributes to a moist, cake-like crumb when combined with wheat flour. Low in gluten, use in combination with wheat flour for baking, but used alone, it works well to make tender pancakes.

Buckwheat flour: A dark, intensely-flavored flour, this is milled from buckwheat groats, which are the hulled, crushed seeds of the buckwheat plant, but technically not a grain at all. Still, buckwheat flour has made its mark in blini (Russian crèpes), soba noodles, sourdough breads, and buckwheat pancakes.

Cornmeal: A revered food with Native American heritage, cornmeal comes in several varieties, including water-ground and stone-ground, as well as several hues-white, yellow, and blue. The tastiest cornmeal is stone-ground and un-degerminated, which can be purchased packaged or in bulk. With no gluten at all, cornmeal must be used in conjunction with wheat flour in any baked goods that need to rise.

Kamut flour: A relative of durum wheat, kamut was all but lost to its ancient Egyptian heritage until it was revived by a Montana entrepreneur in the 1970s. Kamut flour is sometimes recommended for those allergic to common wheats. Powdery and mildly flavored, it can be used on its own to yield light-textured baked goods.

Oat flour: Soft, delicate oat flour, finely milled from rolled oats, is a welcome addition to many forms of baking. Oat flour can replace up to 50% of wheat flour in baking powder-risen recipes, or used completely on its own in cookies.

Quinoa flour: Milled from nutrient-dense quinoa, a revived ancient grain, quinoa flour contributes a tender, moist crumb and adds a rich, nutty flavor and aroma to baked goods. Substitute up to 50% quinoa flour for wheat flour in most any baking powder-risen recipes.

Rice flour: Both white and brown rice flours are available; both have a mild character, but predictably, the latter is more nutritious. If rice flour is used in too high a proportion, the results can be dry and crumbly. Replace wheat flour with up to 25% rice flour in most any baked goods recipes.

Rye flour: Dark rye flour, the least refined form of this type of flour, is even more nutritious than whole wheat flour. And who can resist fresh, hearty rye bread? Equal proportions of rye and wheat flour can be used in yeasted and quick breads or rolls. Rye flour is also a top choice for use in sourdough breads.

Spelt flour: One of the most ancient of cultivated wheats, spelt, like kamut, has made an impressive comeback. Spelt flour has a flavor and texture similar to that of whole wheat flour, yet more complex. Like wheat flour, it is excellent for use in yeasted breads, where it can be used on its own.

Teff flour: The flour milled from the tiny teff seed has been a staple grain crop in Ethiopia for millennia. The main ingredient in injera, the national bread of that country, teff products have slowly made inroads in our country's natural foods markets. Try substituting 25% to 30% of wheat flour with assertively-flavored teff flour in baked goods.

Whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour: The cornerstone of baking, wheat flour is set apart from the others by its high gluten content-that which gives it the ability to rise. Whole wheat flour, sometimes referred to as whole wheat bread flour, is milled from hard wheats with a high gluten content. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled from softer wheats with a lower gluten content and is ideal for muffins and desserts, including cakes and cookies.

Here's a sampling of simple-to-make baked goods and treats that are not only made with whole grain flour but are completely vegan. I have found that Ener-G egg replacer is a perfectly fine substitute for eggs in baked goods (look for it in natural foods stores). Applesauce and soy yogurt are great fat replacers and contribute to a tender crumb.


VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(Makes about 3 dozen)

(Featured on cover.) Since we're a family of chocolate fans, I was particularly thrilled to perfect this cookie, which uses only a third of the sugar called for in Tollhouse cookies. The cupful of butter is replaced with applesauce and just a smidgen of oil. It's a chewy, rather than crispy, cookie, and I now make a batch weekly, as mandated by my sons, to use in place of store-bought cookies.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegan granulated sweetener*
1 cup applesauce
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1-1/2 Tablespoons light vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and sweetener in a mixing bowl and stir together.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the applesauce, dissolved egg replacer, and oil. Stir together until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips and raisins, if desired. Drop the batter onto lightly oiled baking sheets in slightly rounded tablespoonfuls.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are just lightly browned. Let stand for a minute or two, then carefully remove with a spatula to plates to cool.
Total calories per cookie: 77 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 14 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 19 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram


JAM BARS
(Makes 12)

Richly sweetened with all-fruit preserves, these bars are a fun treat for kids and adults alike. Try them with almond tea.

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/3 cup applesauce
11/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
3/4 to1 cup all-fruit preserves

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tablespoons vegan granulated sweetener*
2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons light vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the applesauce and dissolved egg replacer. Stir together until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Spread the batter into a lightly-oiled 8" x 8" baking pan with the help of a baking spatula. Carefully spread the preserves evenly over the batter, using the spatula.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and stir together until evenly coated with the oil. Sprinkle evenly over the preserves, and pat down gently.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the topping is golden. Allow to cool until just warm, then cut into 4 sections in one direction, and 3 sections in the other to make 12 pieces.
Total calories per jam bar: 98 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 56 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams


WHOLE GRAIN FOCACCIA BREAD
(Makes 1 round loaf to serve about 10)

Though this excellent traditional Italian bread is yeasted, it doesn't take as long to make as other yeasted breads since it only requires one brief rising. Start making this bread just before you put on a pot of soup, and the two should be ready simultaneously.

1 package rapid-rise dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon vegan granulated sweetener*
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or replace 1/2 cup of the flour with buckwheat or spelt flour)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
Coarse (kosher) salt
Dried oregano and/or rosemary

Pour the yeast into the warm water and let stand to dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the sweetener and half of the olive oil. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt. Work the yeast mixture in, using your hands, then turn out onto a well-floured board. Knead for 5 minutes, adding additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Shape into a round and roll out into a circle with a 12-inch diameter.

Place it on an oiled and floured baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until nearly doubled in bulk. Poke shallow holes into its surface with your fingers, at even intervals. Sprinkle the remaining olive oil over the top evenly, followed by the garlic, coarse salt, and herbs.

Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bread is golden on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Serve warm, cut into wedges, or just have everyone break off small chunks.
Total calories per serving: 157 Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 22 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 566 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams


PEAR COBBLER
(Serves 6)

Use fairly ripe, sweet pears for best results. Bosc pears work well for this recipe.

5 heaping cups thinly sliced, peeled, and cored pears
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Batter:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup vegan granulated sweetener*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
2/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the pear slices, syrup, and spices in a bowl and stir together until the pears are coated. Arrange in a lightly oiled baking pan.

Combine the flour, sweetener, baking powder, and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the dissolved egg replacer and applesauce. Stir until the wet and dry ingredients are smoothly combined.

Sprinkle the walnuts over the pears, then pour the batter over them and pat it on. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
Total calories per serving: 257 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 56 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 189 milligrams Fiber: 6 grams


ORANGE-CRANBERRY MUFFINS
(Makes 1 dozen)

The flavors of orange and cranberry synergize delightfully and give a lift to winter-weary taste buds.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or replace 1/2 cup of the flour with oat flour or kamut flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegan granulated sweetener*
6 ounces orange- or lemon-flavored soy yogurt
2/3 cup orange juice, preferably just-squeezed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, and ginger in a mixing bowl and stir together. In another bowl, combine the egg replacer, sweetener, soy yogurt, orange juice, and orange rind, if desired. Stir vigorously until well combined.

Stir the cranberries and walnuts, if desired, into the batter. Divide the batter evenly among 12 paper-lined muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

When the muffins are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a rack.
Total calories per muffin: 135 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 136 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams


APPLE MUFFINS
(Makes 1 dozen)

(Featured on cover.) These chewy muffins make a delightful change-of-pace treat for breakfast or as part of a brown bag lunch.

13/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or replace 1/2 cup of the flour with oat flour or kamut flour)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegan granulated sweetener*
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup regular or vanilla-flavored soymilk
1 heaping cup peeled, finely diced apple
2/3 cup dark or golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour(s), wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice or cloves in a large mixing bowl and stir together.

In another mixing bowl, combine the egg replacer, sweetener, applesauce, and soymilk and stir together until smooth. Add the wet ingredients gradually to the dry and stir together vigorously to form a smooth, stiff batter. Stir in the diced apple and raisins.

Divide the batter evenly among 12 paper-lined muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one tests clean. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a rack.
Total calories per serving: 116 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 27 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 85 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams


TOMATO-OLIVE BREAD
(Makes 1 loaf for 9 slices)

An unusual bread that teams beautifully with many types of soup. Use your favorite kind of olive; most any variety works well.

2-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
One 14- or 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon vegan granulated sweetener*
1 Tablespoon light olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted olives, prefer ably cured, any variety
1 to 2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and stir together. In another bowl, combine the egg replacer with the tomatoes, sweetener, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together just until well mixed.

Stir in the olives, scallions, cumin, and basil. Then pour the batter into a lightly-oiled 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf tests clean. Let cool until just warm, then cut into slices to serve.
Total calories per slice: 132 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 24 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 362 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams


CLASSIC CURRANT SCONES
(Makes 8 large wedges)

Currant scones are a standard accompaniment to afternoon tea. Fresh out of the oven, they're quite good with no embellishment, but a bit of black currant jam is nice.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or replace 1/2 cup with oat, barley, or kamut flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup vegan granulated sweetener*
3/4 cup currants
1-1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain or vanilla-flavored soymilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, and sweetener in the bowl of a food processor and pulse on and off until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the currants. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the dissolved egg replacer and soymilk. Mix in, then work together with well-floured hands to make a soft dough. Form into a ball.

On a well-floured board, roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch thick round. Place on a floured baking sheet and with a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top. Serve warm, split in half and spread with jam, if desired.
Total calories per scone: 224 Fat: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 40 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 280 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams


QUICK BOSTON BROWN BREAD
(Makes 18 slices)

This bread is so easy to make that even your bread machine will look like a lot of work. Make this sweet, authentic bread while your favorite comforting soup or stew is simmering on the stove.

3/4 cup rye, spelt, or kamut flour
3/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups soymilk
1/2 cup maple syrup or molasses, or half of each
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir together.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour each of the wet ingredients into it. Stir vigorously until the wet and dry ingredients are completely combined.

Pour the batter into a lightly-oiled 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack briefly, then slice and serve while still warm.
Total calories per slice: 98 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 18 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 176 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams


* Note: Some cane sugar is processed through bone char filters. See www.vrg.org/journal/vj97mar /973sugar.htm for further information, or send a SASE and a request for a copy of this article to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.


Excerpts from the 2002 Issue 1:


The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.



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