Baking with whole wheat flour can be scary. Many of us have had bad experiences with whole wheat products – if not baked or cooked correctly, they can turn out tough, dense, dry, and flavorless. However, I’m here to tell you first-hand that whole wheat foods can taste just as good, and usually better, than their nutritionally-inferior white wheat counterparts.
The difference between whole wheat and the white flour to which most of us are accustomed is that whole wheat flour contains all three layers of the wheat grain – the endosperm, germ, and bran. The two outer layers, the bran and the germ, are where most of the grain’s nutrition lies; white flour has been stripped of these two nutritious layers, as well as the fiber, protein, and more than one dozen key vitamins and minerals they contain. White flour is often labeled as “enriched,” a sneaky way of saying that nutrients have been added back into it to make it more nutritious. While enriched flour contains some vitamins and minerals, these nutrients are not absorbed by the body very well; our bodies best absorb nutrients when they occur in their natural state, so the vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in whole wheat flour will be better absorbed than those added back into enriched flour. Additionally, white flour has nowhere near the fiber and protein content as its whole wheat counterpart, which means it won’t fill you up or keep your blood sugar levels stable for very long. Choosing products made with whole wheat flour will keep you feeling full, satisfied, and energized long after your meal or snack is over.
Now that you know the benefits of cooking with whole wheat flour, why not try making a healthy treat with it? This recipe calls for all whole wheat flour, but many baked goods can be made even a little bit healthier (and still taste more like the baked goods you know and love) by using half whole wheat flour and half white flour. Whether they contain whole wheat flour or not, however, treats are still treats, and should be enjoyed in moderation. I made the recipe below for a party, and it was a hit. I liked it so much that I saved a few for myself, and enjoyed them throughout the week as an after-dinner snack.
Whole Wheat Donuts
⅓ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs (or ¾ cup egg substitute)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup + 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans.
2. Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, applesauce, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
4. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans nearly to the rim; use about 1/4 cup of batter in each well.
5. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
6. Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and loosen their edges. After about 5 minutes, transfer them to a rack.
7. While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them, 1 or 2 at a time, in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur