Want to make an Atta cake? Well, any cake recipe can be converted into a wheat cake recipe simply by replacing refined flour with wheat flour. But there is a lot of confusion as to what other changes need to be made in this conversion like, do we need more baking powder/soda and many others.
These tips for baking with Wheat Flour will clear all your doubts related to this topic, regarding the ingredients, baking time, the texture of the cake, and so on.
Why Make Cake With Wheat Flour?
For ages, we are used to eating white bread, white cakes topped with white cream. All-purpose flour aka refined flour was not taboo till a few years back and people used it comfortably in their kitchen. Then why do we need to bake with whole wheat flour?
With time, baking has undergone sea changes. A few years back, the trend of eggless cakes became popular and recently wheat cakes are gaining popularity owing to their health benefits.
Baking With Whole Wheat Flour is not only the latest trend but is actually the need of the hour! Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, and above all, the awareness about the health of our dear ones has led to a drastic splurge in the use of whole wheat flour in baking.
And now, its usage has been drastically reduced. Some families buy very little of it whereas some have totally boycotted it.
I will share one small incident here. Last year, in one Diwali Mela, we had put up a stall of Kathi Kebab Rolls wherein Kebabs are rolled in a chapati and served. Though the chapatis are traditionally made with refined flour only but still we prepared dough of both varieties, of whole wheat as well as of refined flour as we were not sure as to how people (Delhiites) would respond to the healthy version. But we were pleasantly surprised when the majority of people opted for wheat flour Kathi Rolls.
Whole Wheat Flour Vs All-Purpose Flour
Before we proceed further, a little about as to why refined flour is considered so bad for our health?
When wheat is milled we get whole wheat flour which is full of nutrients. It has 3 parts, namely, bran, germ, and endosperm.
- Bran is the outer layer and is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals and consists of 76% of the nutrients in wheat.
- The Germ is rich in nutrients like carbs, fat, protein, minerals, antioxidants.
- The Endosperm is the middle layer that consists only of carbs and very small amounts of protein.
When we consume whole wheat flour, we get to eat all these 3 parts. But during the refining process, the bran and germ are removed and what is left is the only endosperm which is nothing but carbs. (Source)
Why is Maida Bad for us?
Maida is a by-product of whole wheat only but is obtained by removing the brown covering, that is bran. It is then milled, refined, and bleached. Therefore,
- Refined flour is nothing but empty calories without any fiber, nutrients, and minerals.
- It has a high GI which means that it spikes the blood sugar and insulin levels immediately after consuming it.
- Due to empty calories, it leads to all sorts of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and many others.
So, refined flour is nothing but a residual of whole wheat from which all the nutrients have been extracted. A look at the following table will make it further clear:
(Please note that I will be referring to whole wheat flour as WWF and All-purpose flour as APF)
|In 1 Cup||WWF||APF|
|Protein||16 g||12 g|
Cakes Using Wheat Flour
Today, I bake 90% of my cakes with whole wheat flour, 9% with other healthy flours like millets etc, and yes 1% with refined flour too. And I have been doing so almost for the past 4 to 5 years. Before that, I couldn’t even think of baking with wheat flour.
Earlier, it was like, refined flour is for cakes whereas wheat flour is for chapatis only. I remember, during those days, I came across an Atta-Jaggery cake recipe in a magazine and I was like, O God! is it possible? How can we bake with Atta? Out of my excitement, I noted that recipe in my diary (though have not used it till date).
Anyways, times have changed and I have come way forward from there. There has been a lot of learning. Sometimes through trial and error, some through fellow bakers, and some through reading. The shift from APF to WWF has been very rewarding and today I am proud of my healthy bakes. The credit goes to many healthy baking groups on FB that I am a part of as well as to awareness about healthy baking.
Wheat flour contains germ as well as bran and thus its products are slightly denser and have a nutty flavour as well. But there are ways to overcome these issues.
Tips For Making Cake With Wheat Flour
Any cake recipe can be converted into a wheat cake recipe simply by replacing APF with WWF. There is a lot of confusion as to what changes need to be made in the recipe when using WWF.
So, let’s start with our tips.
1. Sift the Flour Multiple Times
Flour is sifted not just to remove the impurities but has a scientific reason behind it. We want our cakes to be light and airy. Right? And sifting does this job beautifully by incorporating air into the flour. This is the reason that the flour should always be sifted from a little height.
Whether it is APF or WWF, sifting is a must.
The only difference is that APF can be sifted just twice or thrice whereas WWF needs to be sifted 4 to 6 times or maybe more.
The WWF is dense as it has bran as well as germ and sifting makes it light by incorporating air into it. Thus, the more you sift the better it is.
2. One to One
- When we use WWF instead of APF in a recipe then the quantity of all the ingredients be it baking powder or baking soda, curd, sugar, etc remains the same, except one and that is the quantity of liquid used in the recipe, be it water or milk or any other.
- More Hydration (Liquid): As we all know WWF absorbs more liquid than APF. Therefore, the quantity of water/milk/buttermilk is increased while baking with WWF.
- So go ahead with any recipe, use it as it is, and just increase the liquid quantity. You can also replace 1 cup APF with 3/4 cup WWF but that would require slight changes in the quantity of leavening agents. So, the best is to increase simply the liquid.
It’s better to add flavors to combat the nutty taste of wheat flour. These flavors may be chocolate, coffee, fruit pulp, various essences, cardamom or other spices, etc.
4. Let the Batter Rest & Hydrate
Almost 3 years back when I posted vegan chocolate muffins recipe on my blog, I have mentioned that once the batter is ready, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then start baking. This happened accidentally and I was overjoyed with the results. When readers asked me the reason for doing so. I had no explanation except that it gives good results. But today, I know the reason.
Actually, during this resting time, the bran and the germ present in the WWF get a chance to be hydrated and thus soften up. (Source)
So, the two benefits of this resting time are:
- The better texture of the cake
- Cakes with flat tops rather than cracked ones.
5. Lower The Protein Content
Cakes with lower protein content turn out softer and fluffier. This is because lower protein means less gluten formation. This is the reason, cornflour is added even in refined flour cakes, which is then known as Cake flour.
And as seen in the table above, WWF has much more protein than APF. Therefore, it’s better to add little cornflour to WWF. The thumb rule is that for every one cup of WWF, replace 2 tablespoons of it with cornflour. This means, from every 1 cup wheat flour, remove 2 tablespoons of it and add 2 tablespoons of cornflour to it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What can I bake with whole wheat flour?
Here’s a suggestion. Though you can replace all of APF with WWF but it’s better if you do so gradually, like initially, baking with half APF and half WWF and then making it with 100% Wheat Flour.
Read: Whole Wheat Kulchas
Q. Do I need to add more baking powder or baking soda to the wheat flour cake?
No! As answered above, when substituting refined flour with WWF, then all other ingredients remain the same except water or milk. This is because wheat flour absorbs more liquid.
Q) Why whole wheat bakes are dense as compared to refined flour bakes?
Wheat flour contains germ as well as bran and thus its products are slightly denser and have a nutty flavour as well. But you can overcome these issues by following the tips mentioned above.
Q. Can I convert any cake recipe into a healthy cake by using whole wheat flour instead of refined flour?
Q. Does WWF bakes take longer to bake than APF?
Not exactly. Baking time depends on the temperature, quantity, and other things.
Q. Does WWF need more hydration (water)?
Q. Is all-purpose flour the same as refined flour or Maida?
All-purpose flour, Refined flour, Maida, White flour, all these mean the same thing.
Hope making cake with wheat flour is clear to you now and you will no more hesitate in baking healthily. If you have found this post useful then do let me know through your comments below. Your feedback fuels my enthusiasm to post more good content.