A bag of wheat flour is sitting in the pantry, and I am about to reach for it to make pancakes. I bought this from the grocery because it said wheat, which is plant-based. But with the additives and ingredients, am I sure this flour is vegan?
The vegan food wheat flour comes from grounded wheat grain. Wheat comes from Triticum, a type of grass grown all over the world. Flour is mostly starch, which is the main carbohydrate in the plant kingdom.
Wheat flour should always be available in your cupboard and ready to use for your baking needs as well as for your cooking recipes. You will realize that there are many kinds of wheat flour to be used for baked products that will give you the right texture and consistency. By choosing to buy wheat flour, you are doing yourself a big favor healthwise to add fiber and vitamins to your diet.
What Is Wheat Flour?
Wheat flour is a powdery substance made from grinding the wheat grain. Wheat flour contains 2-3% of cell-wall material in the grain’s endosperm of white flour. The brown flour has a vitamin-rich germ and fiber-rich bran.
All three parts of the wheat, endosperm, germ, and bran, are separated from each other and ground into powder form. The white flour is either bleached or mixed with oxidizing chemicals. The brown flour incorporates into the white flour, and the finished product would be the wheat flour.
The wheat grain has different characteristics and classified by:
- The collection of harvest when wheat is milled in the spring or winter season.
- The color of the flour after milling has two different shades, a bronze shade for hard wheat and light gold for soft wheat.
- The amount of gluten in wheat flour determines if it is soft wheat flour or hard wheat flour.
Wheat flour is unique among other cereal grains. It goes through a chemical reaction when mixed with water. Gluten is composed of the properties of proteins, namely gliadin and glutenin, that form an elastic network. It can hold gas and develop a sponge-like structure during baking.
Types Of Wheat Flour
If you are not a baker, you would be surprised by the many kinds of wheat flour sold in the grocery. The different varieties of wheat flour have different results for the finished baked products. You would probably use All-purpose wheat flour for baking, but when you learn that there is a difference in texture and consistency, you will want to be more specific in your flour choice.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour comes in two varieties, 100% whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour. 100% whole wheat flour is taken from hulled red wheat grain and has more fiber for a heavier-texture bread with a shorter shelf life. White whole wheat flour comes from hulled white spring wheat that has a milder texture and lighter color.
When you buy all-purpose flour, you think this is a universal flour for all baked items. It has a 12% medium gluten content and a balanced composition compared to the others. You can use this for baking cookies, crusty bread, cakes, and pastries.
Self-rising flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt added into the flour mixture. It is marketed for convenience, but once stored in the pantry, the baking flour loses its ability as a rising agent.
Bread flour is a hard flour with 13-14% gluten content. You will notice its coarseness and its off-white color. It has an elastic toughness that holds its shape with the baked. This flour is ideal for crusty bread, pizza, doughs, rolls, and other products.
Cake flour Is a soft flour with 7.5-9% gluten content. It has a finer grain and whiter in color, perfect to use for cakes and pastries.
Pastry flour is a bit stronger than cake flour, with 9-10% gluten content. It has an off-white color and good for pie doughs, muffins, cookies, and biscuits.
Wheat Flour Used In Vegan Recipes
Wheat flour is versatile and can mix with any vegan recipe, just like refined flour. Some choose to use wheat flour for the fiber content and protein nutrition. But its functions and uses are the same as flour.
Wheat flour is used for different recipes when you cook your meals. Wheat flour has a light nutty flavor, but you would hardly notice this when you use it for cooking. It is a versatile ingredient that has many uses.
- Coat your vegetables with wheat flour for a crispy fried texture.
- Add wheat flour to gravies, sauces, and broths to thicken the mixture and less watery.
- Cook your breakfast pancakes or waffles with fiber-rich wheat flour.
- Make your homemade wheat flour pasta and enjoy the difference between freshly made pasta from commercially sold pasta out of the box.
Wheat flour is one of the highly used ingredients for baking vegan goods. You cannot pull-off baked items without wheat flour unless it is a flourless chocolate vegan cake. This ingredient is what gives your baked products their structure and body.
If you intend to bake your bread, pies, and cakes, you should use the specific flour to get as close to the store-bought items.
- Wheat pieces of bread like sourdough, french bread, crusty bread, pizza, doughs, rolls will likely use the coarse but elastic bread wheat flour.
- Pie doughs, muffins, cookies, and biscuits will use medium texture pastry wheat flour.
- Cakes and Pastries will get their fluffy and light texture from Cake wheat flour.
Is Wheat Flour Healthy?
Yes, wheat flour is healthier than refined white flour and healthy addition to your vegan diet. It has the vitamin-enriched germ of the grain, a good source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Wheat flour has vegan approved additives like Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Iron, Niacin, and Thiamine Mononitrate.
The bran of the wheat grain is fiber-rich and helps scrub the digestive system of toxins. Using Wheat flour will give you a healthy dose of fiber compared to refined flour. The result is healthier digestion and cleaner internal organs.
- Wheat flour helps in weight loss as the wheat takes longer to digest and gives the person a sense of fullness, stretching the next meal intake a little longer.
- Wheat flour lower blood cholesterol because it scrubs out the toxins in your digestive system.
- Wheat Flour prevents constipation because of its rich fiber, allowing smooth bowel movements.
- Wheat flour helps in digestion because of the feeling of fulness. There is more time to digest the food.
- Wheat flour improves your gut health and prevents hyperacidity because it takes longer to digest, and gastric acids do not flare up the tummy.
Blood Sugar Maintenance
Wheat flour is recommended for those with diabetes because of its lower glycemic index of about 70, compared to refined or white flour with a higher glycemic index of 75. The higher the glycemic index, the faster the sugar absorbs into the body, increasing the blood glucose levels.
Gluten is the protein that gives wheat the ability to put structure on a baked item. It develops and becomes more elastic when it is kneaded before baking. Some people have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or sensitivity and avoid using wheat flour. They end up substituting it with oat flour, quinoa flour, cornmeal, etc.
If the wheat variety is soft or weak, then the gluten content is low. But if it is hard or strong flour, then there is high gluten content. Hard flour or bread flour has 12-14% gluten and should not be eaten by people with allergies.
How To Store Wheat Flour?
Packed wheat flour is sold in a sealed paper-based thick bag. As soon as you get home, transfer the powdery flour into an airtight and hard plastic or glass. You should keep the flour in a dry and cool place like your pantry or refrigerator for one to three months.
If you plan to store your wheat flour in the freezer, you can use a freezer bag to prevent moisture from seeping in and ruining the flour. Freezing preserves the flour from becoming rancid and lengthens the life span from two to six months.
Safe From Weevils
You see the presence of weevils and flour bugs in regular white flour when you open the pack. They lay their eggs while flour is milled and shipped out in packed flour bags. For some odd reason, weevils and flour bugs do not like wheat flour and hardly ever lay their eggs in this variety.
Buying wheat flour is reason enough for you to choose this over refined white flour. It assures you that your pantry is safe from any infestation brought about by flour weevils or bugs.
Wheat flour should be a staple product in your home as it’s proven to be useful for cooking and baking. It is a healthy source of fiber that takes out toxins and ensures a cleaner digestive system. It provides the fats, vitamins, and minerals needed for your vegan diet.