Cooking with whole grains or their only slightly processed cousins (rolled oats, wheat flour) is habit around our house. I have a near aversion to the anemic look and nutritional void of white-flour creations, or perhaps it just a way to justify eating more of my favorite flour-based foods: pancakes, muffins, breads, waffles, cookies, cakes, etc.
My usual approach is to replace from one-third to two-thirds of the white flour with King Arthur’s Organic White Wheat Flour, and I swear you’d never know it—if you’ve eaten pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, oatmeal cookies, any kind of muffin or chocolate chip cookies at my house in the last few years, guess what—you had white wheat flour. But as your taste begins to stray away from plain white, it becomes even more fun to see what you can add. Pancakes, for example: I don’t use any white flour at all, but instead use white wheat or whole wheat flour mixed with a nutty, grainy colorful corn meal. Everyone in my house devours these. To muffins, I have a similiar routine: I add handfuls of rolled oats or oat bran, spoonfuls of ground flaxseed, wheat germ or flours ground from oats, barley or spelt. And when baking bread with my trusty Zojirushi, I toss in handfuls of bulgur or millet to whatever my flour mix of the day might be.
However. I was fully ready to concede that SOME things, like my beloved croissants and fine-grained cupcakes and other desserts perform best without hearty, healthy ingredients in the mix. Until I received a copy of Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour.
I basically want to marry all of the King Arthur cookbooks, and this one is no exception. My willy-nilly approach to a handful here and there of nutrition booster is kid’s stuff compared to the fine kitchen science at work here. Sweet Plum Cake with Rum Frosting, Double Fudge Brownies, Nectarine Upsidedown Cake, Pull-Apart Cranberry Pecan Buns, Orange Cloud Pancakes, Caramel Blitz Torte, Chicken and Mushroom Pastry Pockets, Whole Grain Blitz Pastry Dough and yes, even my beloved Chocolate Croissants have a place in this book, and you won’t see any of them bulging with grains—the effect is subtle and the food is divine.
Since I know whole grains can be intimidating, I’ll start you off slow:
Homemade Whole-Grain Pancake Mix
Photos courtesy of King Arthur’s Flour
- 4 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned or rolled oats (the five-minute kind, not the quick-cook kind)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup safflower or canola oil
You make this mix, and then store it in the freezer, so you’ve got ready-made pancake mix in the house, without all the trans fats, corn syrup and other additives in the grocery store version. While we just usually make pancakes from scratch each time, I can’t figure out why I never thought to make it up ahead of time, brilliant!
- 16 ounces King Arthur white whole wheat flour
- 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 12 1/4 ounces old-fashioned or rolled oats
- 1 1/2 ounces sugar
- 1 1/2 ounces baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 7 ounces vegetable oil
|To make the mix:|
1) Grind the oats in a food processor until they’re chopped fine, but not a powder.
2) Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a mixer with a paddle. Mix on slow speed, and drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.
3) Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature, or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.
|To make pancakes:|
1) Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup of buttermilk (you can use soured milk, but buttermilk gives noticeably superior results; a combination of half plain yogurt and half milk also will do), and 1 large egg. Don’t worry if it seems thin at first: the oats will soak up the milk, and the mix will thicken a bit as it stands. Let the batter stand for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
|2) Heat a lightly greased griddle to 350°F (if you’ve got a griddle with a temperature setting; if not, medium-hot will do).|
3) Drop the batter onto it in 1/4-cupfuls to make a 4″ diameter pancake.
4) When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface without breaking (after about 2 minutes, if your griddle is the correct temperature), turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side, which will take about 2 minutes.
5) Serve pancakes immediately, or stack and hold in a warm oven.
|Yield: a batch using one cup of the mix will make about eight 4″ pancakes.|
|Note: If you don’t have buttermilk in the house, but do have buttermilk powder, try this: In place of the buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder to 1 cup of dry mix, then stir in 1/3 cup water and 1 large egg.|
|Variation: Add 1 tablespoon orange juice to the dry mix along with the buttermilk. The acidity and sweetness of the orange juice helps mellow the tannic taste some people perceive in whole wheat flour; while the pancakes won’t have any orange flavor, they may taste slightly milder to you, if you’re not a fan of whole wheat flour (but still want to get more whole grains into your diet).|
- If you’re not in the habit of having buttermilk around, reconsider: you can freeze leftover buttermilk, in 1-cup portions, for future batches of pancakes.
- These pancakes hold in a low oven for half an hour without getting tough or rubbery, and they’re more than willing to act as a vehicle for any kind of fruit addition, such as peach, raspberry, banana-walnut, blueberry and cranberry-apricot.
Anna Sawin is a Connecticut-based portrait, wedding, and editorial photographer. She lives in the shoreline town of Stonington with her family and has discovered the perfect cupcake. Just ask, she is willing to share her secret.