Whole wheat flours can not only add fiber to baked goods, they can add a lot of flavor to them, too. But as is the case with so many ingredients, not all whole wheat flours are created equal. Flours range in flavor and in texture, and using different brands can even impact the results you get when you bake with them. Cook’s Illustrated recently did a taste test of whole wheat flours to see which brands were standouts in their test kitchens.
The five brands that Cook’s Illustrated tested in a recent issue were King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour, Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Whole Wheat Flour, Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour and Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour. All were tested in whole wheat sandwich bread and in pancakes. King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill came out on top, both praised for their great whole wheat flavors. Hodgson Mill’s flour had a strong flavor, but a very coarse grind that led to some overly crumbly sandwich bread. Gold Medal and Pillsbury had the finest textures and the most subtle flavors to their whole wheat flours. These last three flour brands all received the “Recommended with Reservations” rating from CI.
When you choose a whole wheat flour, take into account the flavor and the performance of the product. Tthis might mean that you try a couple of brands on your own at home. Personally, sometimes like a rustic feel for whole wheat baked goods and sometimes I prefer a finer, more subtle presence. I would opt for Pillsbury or Gold Medal for baking bread if I wanted to have a texture that is similar to non-whole wheat bread (finer grinds of the whole wheat generally mean that there will be a bit more gluten in these flours) and a coarse flour for some hearty whole wheat chocolate chip cookies (a coarse Hodgson Mill would be my pick there).