The next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at all of the varieties of flour that are available. Some common types of flour include all-purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. It can be difficult to distinguish between whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour and even more challenging to figure out how to use these two varieties.
Whole wheat flour has many uses depending on the type of wheat. Bread and rolls are made from flour milled from hard red wheat, while flour milled from white winter wheat has a milder flavor and makes excellent pastries and cookies. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled exclusively from white winter wheat and is best used for baking pastries, cookies and sweet breads. Both whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour can be used in place of conventional white or pastry flour although the final product will be different.
Whole wheat flour is categorized by the size of the grains when the wheat berry is milled. The granulation sizes are fine, medium and coarse, and each size has different uses. Bakers use fine-grained flour because it absorbs liquid rapidly. Medium-grained flour has a slightly rougher texture and makes the foods taste a bit nuttier or coarser. Coarse-grained flour gives breads a natural flavor and a rough texture. For this reason it is generally only used in small amounts. Whole wheat pastry flour is made from fine-ground whole wheat flour and has a high starch content.
Whether you use whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour, your baked goods will be more nutritious than those made from all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour is ground using all of the parts of the wheat berry including the germ, bran and endosperm. This means whole wheat flour is higher in fiber, protein and other nutrients than white flour, which has the germ and bran removed. Whole wheat pastry flour is ground very finely but still contains some of the bran and germ from the original wheat berry.
Both whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour produce a final product that is denser and heavier than baked goods made from white flour. This is because it takes longer to develop the gluten in whole wheat flour. If the denseness is a problem, you can bake using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. For pastries you can use half whole wheat pastry flour and half white pastry flour. This will produce a more nutritious product that is still light and airy.