Saturday, February 5, 2011

Whole Wheat Flour - Reader Question

Photo Credit: Filia Artis

A good question from KvD, a regular reader here at The Do-tique about substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose in my stew recipe

In this recipe, I used flour to thicken the sauce for the stew and to make the dumplings that went in. 

Corn starch would likely have worked equally well if not better as a sauce thickener here.

As for whole wheat flour, there are lots of recipes online that call for a percentage of whole wheat mixed with all-purpose flour to make whole wheat dumplings and that sounds like a route that I would recommend trying. 100% whole wheat would probably work, but they'd be pretty heavy tasting dumplings.

Often, when I want to sub-in whole wheat into a recipe, I limit myself to replacing about 1/3 - 1/2 of the white flour with whole wheat since things can get a bit too dense otherwise. For instance, I made whole wheat pizza dough last night, but only replaced about 1/3 of the white flour and that was about right to create something that still had the correct texture.

With regard to using whole wheat flour as a thickener in sauces and gravies, I wasn't able to find a great answer online, so if any of my readers have tried this, please let me know how it turned out. 

If I had to do this in a pinch, I would make sure to grind the flour in a coffee grinder or food processor and then sift out the larger bran particles with a sieve before proceeding to give myself the best chance of a sauce that is somewhat smooth. 

In reality, flour as a thickener for sauces is kind of a cheating method in the first place. So, if you're a more accomplished chef, you can adjust recipes to allow for sauces to reduce properly rather than artificially rushing that process with thickening agents. Another option would be to allow the cream in this recipe to do more of the work for you as a thickening agent.

I'm hoping that C.F. of Ma Vie Provencal may chime in since I know that she follows an allergen-free diet and will know all sorts of tricks for making things without flour.

Bon Appetit!

DIY Rating: I leave it up to you, dear reader, 
to assign a rating from your own experience! 

Does whole wheat flour work?


  1. I try not to use white flour at all if possible, hence my question :)

    I have regularly used whole wheat flour to make a roux for thick sauces and gravies. It works. I don't grind or sift it or anything - I am too lazy.

    I have also made whole wheat pizza dough, although it doesn't taste or feel that great, so now I cheat and make it with half white flour.

    I think that you are probably right about the dumplings. I am going to attempt the stew tonight, and I will try half white and half whole wheat flour. I will let you know the results, although I have not eaten dumplings in years so have only a vague idea of what the ideal consistency is.

    Ironically, I seem to be cursed when it comes to cornstarch. I know that it is supposed to be the easiest way to thicken things, but for some reason it only works for me about 50% of the time. And yes, I do follow the recipe and put in the right amount.

  2. You do mix the cornstarch into some cold water before adding it in right? And you also want to actually let your cooking cool down a little bit before adding that cornstarch mixture - ie. if the liquid is very hot and bubbling, turn the heat off for a minute or two and then add the cornstarch mixture when it's not quite as hot.

    Looking forward to hearing how it all comes out. Feel free to snap a photo and send me your write up by email and you can be a guest blogger here...

  3. Yes, I mix the cornstarch in cold water. I haven't tried turning the heat down.

    I made the stew and it was yummy - even the kids ate it up. Alas, there are no photos, because if there is one thing that I am more cursed in than the used of cornstarch, it is cameras. But that is a lengthy rant for another day. I think you already know about my inability to own anything electronic that actually works as it is supposed to.


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