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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flour Power

When I was a junior in high school, I remember my teacher giving out an exam review and one of the questions on it was:
"what was the Battle of the Bulge?".
My answer was "the war on carbs"
Now, future history-major me would have never answered the way I did, but at the time I did not know the answer and decided to see if I could get a little chuckle from my teacher (I loved her, btw, she was one of my influences to go into the whole education profession. Ms. McCluggage....Amber knows.)

Year's later I now find myself in an actual battle of the bulge and one thing that has helped me the most is cutting the "bad" carbs completely (.....ok, mostly) and replacing them with healthy, whole grain "good carbs".

I've never been the greatest baker, but I like to expand my culinary knowledge from time to time and recently I've been doing a lot of research about the differences in flours- mostly between whole wheat flour and white flour (all purpose- bleached or unbleached white flour).
In my research I have found a LOT of different types of flours. check this list out (and I'm sure this is not all of them)

All purpose flour, amaranth flour, barely flour, bread flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, corn flour, flax seed meal/flour, job's tears flour, kaumt flour, masa harina, millet flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, rye flour, sorghum flour, soy flour, spelt flour, teff flour, white rice flour, whole wheat flour.

SHEESH

Oat flour is what I use in the protein bars I make (recipe is actually Jamie Eason's and will probably be a post very soon) it is literally ground up oatmeal in a food processor. I do not have a food processor, so I have to buy oat flour which is kind of pricey still since it's not too common....I sure would love to make my own and spend a little less on oat flour.... *cough cough* :-)

Whole wheat flour and white all purpose flour, on the other hand come from the same place in the beginning. Whole wheat flour is derived by rinding or mashing the wheat's whole grain.
The word "whole" refers to the fact that all of the grain -bran, germ, endosperm- is used and nothing is lost in the process of making the flour. In contrast to white refined flours, which contain only the endosperm. Because the whole flour contains the remains of all of the grain, it has a textured, brownish appearance and is also a heavier flour than the white flour.
"Enriched" white flour has had all the good stuff stripped from it and then replaced.
"Fortified" white-wheat flour does not contain the macronutrients of the wheat's bran and germ, esp fiber and protein. Whole Wheat is a good source of calcium, iron, fiber, and other minerals like Selenium- we need selenium for the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Now, what doesnt make sense to me is that if we know that it's good stuff, WHY are we taking it out!? Seriously, the process of making white bleached flour is ridiculously complex compared with the process of making the whole wheat flour, and the whole wheat flour is better for us! go figure.

So after all of this research and newfound knowledge, I felt empowered to make something with delicious, nutritious whole wheat flour! I needed to bring a dessert to Easter dinner at my parents house and thought surely there would be a recipe for cupcakes using whole wheat flour. There were. A few, in fact. So I chose the tastiest looking one (and also the one that I had the most ingredients already for) I found THIS recipe and decided to try it. It looked good.
I followed all the steps, did all the right measurements. My cupcakes were a fail. They didn't rise and they were dense. boo. I expected a little extra weight to these cupcakes because of the heavier flour but these were really dense. I tasted them and they still tasted okay, just not like a cupcake- more like a banana-bran muffin. So, not being one to waste I am currently eating them for breakfast :-)

If anyone knows of some cupcake recipes with whole wheat flour (that actually work) I'd love to try them out- OR if you try this recipe and figure out what I did wrong, let me know!