Which Wheat For What?
From left to right: “Bronze Chief” Hard Red Wheat, “Prairie Gold” Hard White Wheat, Soft White Wheat, Spelt.
Which Wheat For What?
There are several types of wheat available, and each one is best suited for a certain purpose. If you know which kind of wheat works best for the recipe you’d like to make, your baked goods will turn out noticeably better than if you had used a less suitable variety.
Another thing that will make your baked goods turn out way better is to mill your own flour. Freshly milled flour has a fresh flavor that permeates everything you make with it, whereas pre-milled flours begin to become rancid shortly after the wheat berry is broken, as in milling. Rancid oils taste bad. And besides that, they are carcinogenic and contribute to disease, so it’s best to mill your own flour to use as needed. You’ll find what we consider to be the best grain mill here.
New To Baking Bread?
Making bread is a whole lot more fun when you know what you’re doing! When we started out and were struggling to make a decent loaf this is the book that helped us figure it out. The first thirty four pages are devoted to “A Loaf For Learning” that takes you through the process of making a simple whole wheat bread with pictures and a thorough explanation of what qualities you should be looking for in the dough at each step of the way. We highly recommend it to anyone who’s just getting started at making wholesome whole grain breads and anyone who’s been turning out bricks instead of loaves. It will put you on the right track.
The other wonderful thing about this book is every recipe is designed to be made with one hundred percent whole grain flours. You don’t have to reinvent any of the recipes to work with whole grains. Did you know whole wheat flour absorbs water slowly and that it requires more kneading time? You can’t just convert any white-flour recipe into a wheat-flour recipe. Not without trial and error, anyway. Do you know how to check the gluten window of your dough? This book will teach you how.
The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book includes recipes for basic breads; French breads; sponge breads; rye breads; several kinds of sourdough breads; breads that contain beans, milk, or eggs; sprouted breads; fruit, nut, and seed breads; English muffins; chapathis and other ethnic breads; a dozen types of rice bread; quick breads; muffins; pocket bread; and my list has gotten long enough now, but there’s more. My favorites are the Fresh Milk Bread, Flemish Desem Bread, and Whole Wheat French Bread.
So if you’re new to baking bread, rather than put yourself through the trial and error (and error and trial), get yourself a copy of the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book.
Wheat Montana’s Freshly Milled Flours
In case you don’t have the means to mill your own fresh flours at this point, you’ll be happy to know Wheat Montana mills their flours fresh for us when we order.
Whether you decide to mill your own whole wheat flour or buy it ready-milled, this short guide will help you determine which type of wheat to use.
Which Wheat For What
Wheat for Bread Making
For bread making, it’s best to use a “hard” variety of wheat, such as hard red wheat or hard white wheat. Hard wheat is high in gluten, a protein that becomes stretchy when you knead it. This stretchy gluten captures the tiny gas bubbles that yeast produces within the dough, which is what makes yeast and sourdough breads rise.
Spelt can also be used for making bread, however neither one contains as much gluten as hard wheat. Therefore, yeast and sourdough breads made with spelt will generally not rise as high as breads made with hard wheat. What they do have going for them is taste. We’ve found both of these ancient grains to have a sweeter, more robust flavor than any of our hard wheat varieties.
Wheat for Biscuits, Pancakes, Pastries, Cakes, Crackers and Cookies
Soft white wheat is ideal for baked goods that not kneaded, like cookies and pancakes, pie crusts and crackers. Soft wheat has a very low gluten content, which, when used in baked goods that are not kneaded, results in a tender finished product.
Spelt and can work well in both yeast or sourdough leavened breads and baking soda leavened goods like pancakes and muffins. (Just remember they tend not to rise as high and lofty in yeast and sourdough leavened breads because of their low gluten content.)
Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat
Prairie Gold is Wheat Montana’s brand name for the hard white wheat they grow. Hard white wheat is slightly higher in gluten than hard red wheat, milder in flavor and naturally lighter in color. Bread made with hard white wheat has a sweeter flavor and lighter texture than traditional whole wheat breads; it is never dense or bitter and doesn’t require any added white flour or gluten to create beautiful light loaves every time. A good choice for those who are hesitant to switch to whole wheat baking.
Hard Red Spring Wheat
Bronze Chief is the brand name of spring-grown hard red wheat that we offer. It’s excellent for turning out loaves of classic whole wheat bread with their nutty flavor and springy texture. Bronze Chief wheat is best for yeast or sourdough breads. Although it is not as mild as the Prairie Gold, we love the depth of flavor this traditional wheat imparts.
Order Hard Red Spring (Bronze Chief) Wheat Berries here to pick up locally in TN or here to have your order shipped.
Hard Red Winter Wheat
Very similar to Hard Red Spring Wheat for baking, but when it comes to sprouting, many people say the Hard Red WInter Wheat is superior to the spring-grown red wheat.
For baking, use Hard Red Winter Wheat in yeast or sourdough breads. It is interchangeable with Hard Red Spring Wheat and imparts a classic, nutty whole wheat bread flavor.
Soft White Wheat
Soft white wheat has a very mild flavor, similar to Prairie Gold hard white wheat, but is used differently. Because it is low in gluten, soft white wheat is best for baked goods that should have a tender crumb, like muffins, pancakes, quick breads, biscuits and pie crusts. It’s usually a bit more expensive than the hard wheats, but the results are well worth it! When I started using soft white wheat, and milling my own, I was able to eliminate the unbleached flour I had been using altogether.
Spelt is a species of wheat that was widely grown in the Europe during the middle ages but has only recently gained popularity in America. It has less gluten than hard wheat, but with some practice, it can be used to make delicious breads and other baked goods. Although spelt does contain gluten, it is easier to digest than modern wheat varieties. In fact, some people who have mild wheat sensitivities can tolerate spelt.
We have found spelt to be the tastiest of all the bread grains in our experiments!