I used to wonder a lot what the difference was with red wheat vs. white wheat. Most people associate whole wheat bread with a dense, very “hearty” and almost bitter flavor. That is because red wheat is what we used to have available, but now we have its wonderful sibling – white wheat! White wheat is a naturally occurring albino variety of wheat.
The photo to the left shows a visual difference of red wheat vs. white wheat. They are basically the same, except in coloration.
There are two types of white wheat – soft white and hard white. Soft white has less gluten and is often used to make pastries, cakes, and other delicate baked goods. Hard white (actually golden in color) has gluten and is used to make yeast-raised breads and doughs. For the purposes of this article, I am discussing hard white wheat.
Red wheat has tannins and phenolic acid in its outer layer. Hard white wheat does not have these, which makes it less bitter and sweeter tasting. It has all the same levels of nutrition but tastes significantly “lighter.” I buy white wheat and grind it for my bread. After I sift out the bran (I use it in my granola) and then allow it to age for a few weeks, it is very close in look and texture to unbleached store-bought flour.
I definitely would not recommend abandoning hard red wheat by any means. It certainly does give a lot more flavor to some breads. However, I primarily use hard white wheat in my breads, and here’s why.
- White wheat gives a lighter texture and flavor
- White wheat is sweeter which means I need to use less sweeteners
- Hard white wheat is nutritionally the same as hard red but tastes better
- My kids prefer it because it has a lighter texture and none of the bitterness
I have successfully transitioned my recipes from using bread flour and/or white flour to using 100% homeground hard white wheat. It is still just as delicious with a little more flavor but with none of the bitterness of red wheat.
And the best part is the cost – I pay only $7 for a 25lb bag. I buy it at the local LDS storehouse – I am not a church member but certain days of the week they will sell bulk items from their storehouse to non-members. I go through it pretty quickly, since I bake all of our breads. That makes it about $.28 per pound.
So there you have it! In the debate of red wheat vs. white wheat, I know some people still prefer the red, some even like to blend the two but I really prefer the hard white wheat.
So stay tuned next week I will be blogging the grinding process and then the following week I’ll blog me baking my favorite honey wheat & oat bread using my own fresh ground whole white wheat flour! And yes, I will post my recipe 🙂 I’ll also post my pizza crust recipe… which is incredibly delicious if I may say so myself 😉