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How to Bake with Whole Grains and Nut Flours

How to Bake with Whole Grains and Nut Flours

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How to Make Nut and Seed Flours

Elana of Elana’s Pantry has some incredible almond flour-based recipes in her Almond Flour Cookbook. If you haven’t tried them, make a batch of Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Out of this world and egg-free, too!

Elana and I both swear by Honeyville Food Products almond flour. It’s one of the finest ground almond flours out there. You can order it from Honeyville or pick some up at most Costcos. But what if mid-recipe you run out and need more? Here’s a solution.

Get out a you coffee grinder.

My coffee grinder is an older model of this one and has become one of the most essential gadgets in my kitchen. I reserve one solely for the purpose of grinding nuts and seeds. So if you have one hiding in the depths of your cabinet, pull it out, dust it off, and let’s start grinding some nut and seed flours.

Here I compare storebought almond flour to a small batch I ground up myself. Had I used blanched almonds, my flour would have looked exactly like Honeyville’s.

In the picture above I compare Honeyville to almonds I ground in a coffee grinder. I proceeded to make two batches of Elana’s gluten-free Snickerdoodles—from this cookbook—one with the freshly ground almond flour and one with Honeyville’s. No difference—in taste or texture.

If you do a lot of baking with almond flour, it’s probably best to keep a bag of Honeyville’s on hand. However, if you only use it occasionally and in small measures (1-2 cups at a time), then give making your own a try.

And there are tons of other flours you can grind up at home, too!

The Great Muffin Makeover

If you visit a coffee shop for your morning cup, chances are you will be met by an array of baked goods—including the ubiquitous muffin. Dotted with fruit or sprinkled with nuts, they may appear to be a better breakfast than their donut neighbors, but with a range of other ingredients (often refined flours, high sodium, and plenty of added sugar) and large portion size, they’re far from the optimal food choice to start your day.

At the same time, the low-fat muffin masquerades as a “better-for-you” choice, yet represents everything that’s wrong with the “low fat is best” myth: Most fat in muffins comes from plant oils, which are rich sources of “good” fats—the unsaturated fats that are healthy for the heart. When the fat’s cut back, what’s left? White flour and usually even more sugar. The body breaks-down these refined carbohydrates in a flash, leading to a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin, followed by a rapid drop, and an all-too-quick return of the hunger pangs that led you to eat that muffin in the first place.

Low-fat baked goods (and other low-fat processed foods) also aren’t as flavorful as their full-fat counterparts, so food-makers often bump up the salt. That’s bad for the heart—as is eating lots of white flour, sugar, and other heavily-processed carbohydrates: Diets high in refined carbohydrates increase the risk of heart disease as much as, or perhaps more than, diets high in harmful saturated fat. [1,2]

In 2012, chefs and registered dietitians at The Culinary Institute of America worked with nutrition experts at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health to give muffins a makeover—and to further debunk the low-fat myth—creating muffin recipes that use healthy fats and whole grains, and have a lighter hand on the salt and sugar. Fortunately, fewer commercial muffins are emphasizing low-fat these days, but the average coffee shop muffin is still in need of a tune up. As a result, the original five muffin recipes have been improved even further:

The Great Muffin Makeover Recipes

Beyond these recipes, you can create more healthful versions of family-favorite muffins and baked goods in your own kitchen. If a recipe calls for butter, start by replacing half the butter with healthful oil, such as olive oil. Then see if you can replace half of the refined, all-purpose flour with whole grain flour. From there, you can continue to experiment with increasing the percentage of healthy oils and whole grains.

Here are a dozen tips and test-kitchen insights that home bakers can use to build “better-for-you” muffins that taste great.

  1. Downsize the portions.The mega-muffins that have become so popular in bake shops are really two to three times the size of the muffins your grandmother would have baked. Use a standard-sized muffin tin that holds about 2 ounces per cup, line the cups with paper liners, and fill the cups halfway with batter. That way you can “stretch” a standard 12-muffin recipe to make 18 smaller muffins.
  2. Go whole on the grains.You can easily substitute whole wheat flour for 50 percent of the white, all-purpose flour in your favorite muffin recipe, without compromising the taste or texture. And with some tweaking, you can replace all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. If you use all whole wheat flour, you’ll need to add an extra tablespoon or two of liquid, either vegetable oil, buttermilk, or fruit juice, depending on the type of muffin you’re making. The Great Muffin Makeover uses several different types of whole grain flours: whole wheat pastry flour (which has less protein than standard whole wheat flour, giving baked goods a more tender texture) white whole wheat flour(which is lighter in appearance and milder in flavor than standard whole wheat flour) and cornmeal(make sure to use non-degerminated cornmeal, with a coarse grind, to get all of the whole grain goodness). Rolled oats, buckwheat flour, and other whole grain flours can also be incorporated into muffins and other baked goods. Make sure to store whole grain flours in your refrigerator: The healthy unsaturated fats these flours contain can go rancid if stored at room temperature.
  3. Slash the sugar. You can cut at least 25 percent of the sugar from most standard muffin recipes without any negative impact on flavor or texture, and in some recipes, cut back even more. When you cut back, try substituting brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar for some of the white sugar (in most recipes brown sugar can replace all the white sugar without other modifications) although they are all added sugars, these sweeteners have more complex flavors than white sugar, so you can use less but still bake up muffins with a pleasingly sweet taste. Adding sweet spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla, has a similar effect. Using fresh or dried fruit or fruit purees can also help satisfy a sweet tooth. The Great Muffin Makeover recipes use these techniques to reduce added sugar by 50 percent or more from standard recipes.
  4. Pour on the oil. Healthful liquid plant oils—canola, corn, sunflower, extra virgin olive oil, and others—help keep whole-grain muffins moist and are a better choice than melted butter or shortening. When substituting liquid vegetable oil for butter, use 25 percent less oil (since butter contains water). Use a neutral-flavored oil, such as canola oil, when you want other flavors to shine. Olive oil is a great choice for vegetable-based muffins, such as the Great Muffin Makeover’s recipes for Lemon Chickpea Muffins and Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Muffins.
  5. Bring out the nuts. For extra protein and another source of healthy fats, add chopped nuts to a muffin recipe, rather than sugary chocolate chips or cinnamon chips. Or swirl in a spoon of nut butter or a splash of nut-based milk. You can also substitute nut-based flour for up to 25 percent of the grain flour in a recipe, without noticing a texture difference, and it will add a subtle nutty flavor. Or, if you have a really good food processor, you can make your own nut flour by grinding whole nuts, such as almonds, into a coarse meal. Be sure to store nuts and nut flours in the refrigerator or freezer, to keep their healthy oils fresh and flavorful.
  6. Switch from grains to beans and bean flours. Beans (legumes) are slowly-digested sources of carbohydrate that are rich in fiber and protein, so they can be a healthful substitution for refined grains in baking recipes. Beans and bean flours have starches that behave a bit differently from white flour, though, so you can’t exchange them one-for-one with grain flours. But they can substitute well for part of the grain flour. Just remember that you may need to add a bit more liquid to a bean flour batter.
  7. Scale back the salt. Quick breads, such as muffins, are often sneaky sources of sodium, because they rely on sodium-based leavening agents, such as baking soda and baking powder. The best way to scale back the salt is just to make smaller muffins, and The Great Muffin Makeover recipes do just that. Some of them also incorporate egg whites as a leavening agent (see below). To make sure that your entire meal stays low in sodium, pair muffins with foods that are naturally low in sodium or sodium-free, such as vegetables or fruit. Also, make muffins and quick breads an occasional breakfast treat, not an everyday staple whole grains that are minimally-processed, such as steel-cut oatmeal, are lower in sodium than whole grain baked goods.
  8. Pump up the produce—and flavor!Fresh whole fruit and unsweetened dried fruit naturally contain sugar, but unlike other sweeteners, they also contain fiber and nutrients. Using fruit in your muffins means you can have a lighter hand on the added sugar. Cooked or raw vegetables, such as caramelized onions, sliced jalapeños, and snipped chives, can add interesting textures and savory flavors to muffins.
  9. “Egg” centuate the power of eggs. Eggs have gotten an undeservedly bad rap, but research indicates that an egg a day is generally fine for healthy people, so there’s no need to cut out eggs in muffins and other baked goods. Folding whipped egg whites into a batter can help lighten it up—a great trick to use with whole grain muffins, which often have dense batters. A lighter batter also means that you can use a smidge less baking powder, helping to curb sodium.
  10. Skimp on the full-fat dairy products. Dairy products such as whole milk can be high in saturated fat, and they’re not essential to make a great-tasting muffin. The Great Muffin Makeover recipes use low-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat buttermilk to replace whole milk, yielding moist, tender baked goods. Soymilk and nut milks can also be used to replace regular milk. Keep in mind that the switch to lower fat dairy items is not done to lower total fat: These recipes emphasize replacing saturated fats with healthy fats.
  11. Stretch small indulgences.Butter and cheese are high in unhealthy saturated fat, so we want to limit these foods in our daily diets. But using these and other “indulgent” ingredients in small amounts can add zip to muffins, without adding too much unhealthy saturated fat. In The Great Muffin Makeover Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Muffin recipe, a few ounces of sharp cheddar cheese add great flavor.
  12. Take a stealth health approach. Invite people to taste your revised recipes before telling them about the changes. Many people react negatively to a “better-for-you” version before they even taste it, but if they get the chance to taste first, they will likely agree that they like it just as much as—or even better than—the original.


  1. Hu FB. Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? Am J Clin Nutr.2010 Jun 191(6):1541-2.
  2. Jakobsen MU, Dethlefsen C, Joensen AM, Stegger J, Tjønneland A, Schmidt EB, Overvad K. Intake of carbohydrates compared with intake of saturated fatty acids and risk of myocardial infarction: importance of the glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr 791(6):1764-8.

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Whole Grain Flours Are A Better Option

It’s true that whole grains are better as far as nutrition goes.

As the Minnesota Department of Health explains, the whole grain kernals are made up of 3 parts:

  1. Bran – Outer layer of the grain that contains fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and 50-80% of minerals in grains like iron, copper, zinc, magnesium
  2. Endosperm – middle largest layer containing mostly carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals
  3. Germ – inner component containing healthy fats, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants like vitamin E

When you eat refined grains (the white stuff) you are only getting the endosperm, so basically all of the nutrition has been stripped from the grain, which isn’t really ideal. So if you are going to choose any type of grain, choose only whole grains.

Can I bake with out of date flour?

With flour still in short supply, I’m sure many of you desperate bakers out there (myself included) have been ransacking your cupboard, fridge, and freezer to find any flour you may have stashed away and forgotten. And guess what? You actually found a crumpled half-bag of all-purpose flour — but it’s past its best-by date. Is it still good to use?

That depends — on both the type of flour, and how it's been stored. Let’s see what factors determine whether you should feel comfortable using your bag (or box) of forgotten flour.

Best by, best [if] used by, sell by .

First, some clarification of the language and dates you’ll see stamped on the bottom, top, or side of your flour package.

“Best by” and “best if used by” are dates determined by the manufacturer and directed at the consumer they set the limit of the product’s optimum quality range. “Sell by” is directed at the store where the product is sold, signaling when the product should be pulled from the shelf because its quality may start to deteriorate.

Refined flours

By definition, this category includes the traditional “white” flours: pastry, cake, self-rising, all-purpose, bread, and high-gluten flours plus specialty flours and blends like white rye, Italian-Style Flour, Pasta Flour Blend, Pastry Flour Blend, and Pizza Flour Blend. In short, any flour that doesn’t include its original grain’s bran and germ is considered refined.

What to look for: The flour should look just as it did the day you bought it. If it looks yellow or gray shows signs of mold if it’s developed hard moisture lumps, or if you see evidence of insects, discard it. In addition, if the flour smells unpleasant (sour, musty, or just plain bad), don’t use it.

How to decide: Flour that’s good to use will be an even cream color and have a neutral aroma, or perhaps a faint touch of pleasant wheatiness.

Usage past the best-by date: Depending on how the flour has been stored, you may decide to give it a try. Refined flour that’s been stored airtight or at least well-wrapped (to keep it dry) in the back of a freezer can remain stable for quite some time. Flour stored in a loose-lidded canister at room temperature will deteriorate more quickly.

Our research and development team regularly tests the boundaries of shelf life for our many flours in order to develop the most accurate best-by dates. Flour will start to deteriorate in both taste and performance once it's passed its best-by date — which is exactly why we date flour, to make sure you have the most successful experience possible. Can you use outdated flour in a pinch? Maybe. Do you want to make a regular habit of it? Not if you want the best results.

Should you use flour that “expired” in 2008? Absolutely not. But if you're desperate to bake and you find some flour with a best-by date of 6 weeks ago? It might be OK to try it — so long as it passes the guidelines above.

One exception to this is self-rising flour. While the flour itself remains stable, its added baking powder gradually loses potency — just like the can of baking powder in your cupboard does. Yes, you can bake with self-rising flour after its best-by date but your baked goods may not rise as well.

Whole grain flours

These include any flour that retains its bran and germ when milled. Think whole wheat, white whole wheat, pumpernickel (whole rye), medium rye, buckwheat, and various blends like Whole Grain Flour Blend.

Since whole grain flours are more sensitive to poor storage conditions than refined flours, we recommend you do the following assessment for any whole grain flour you're using, even if its best-by date hasn't passed yet.

What to look for: The flour should be lump-free and pourable, and it shouldn’t show any signs of mold or evidence of insects. In addition, it should smell either neutral or faintly sweet.

How to decide: Unlike with refined flours, it's sometimes hard to tell if whole grain flour is good simply by sight. So go by smell: whole grain flour with a strong, unpleasant aroma won’t taste good and shouldn’t be used for baking.

Usage past the best-by date: Really, don't do it. We've done a lot of testing and for whole grain flours, that best-by date is an accurate indication of the flour’s quality.

You can definitely prolong the shelf life of whole grain flours with careful storage. See how in our post, The best way to store whole grains.

Gluten-free flours

Many gluten-free flour blends include whole grains and/or nut flours, and thus should be judged the same way as whole grain flours (above).

Nut flours

Almond flour and coconut flour are easily tested to see if they’re good to bake with: simply taste them. If they taste mildly sweet and nutty, they’re fine. If they smell rancid and taste at all bitter, don’t use them.

Tempting though it is to nab one of those nubbins of chocolate chip cookie dough — don't do it!

Stay safe

Please thoroughly bake or cook anything that includes flour before eating! This means no scarfing down raw cookie dough, no licking the bowl when you make brownies, and no testing a bit of yeast dough to see if you remembered the salt. Here are our official safe-handling instructions: Raw flour is not ready to eat and must be thoroughly cooked or baked before eating to prevent illness from bacteria in the flour. Do not eat or play with raw dough wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after handling. After opening, keep cool and dry in a sealed container. Freeze for prolonged storage.

A final note

Chances are you haven't had to decide whether or not to bake with old flour in the past. Typically, if you find out of date flour (or any expired ingredient) in your cupboard you just sigh, discard it, and buy some more. But flour is scarce right now, and we're all approaching ingredients a little bit differently.

Don't let these hard times get you down at some point your supermarket will be fully stocked with all kinds of flour once more. Still, this is a good opportunity to assess your storage and usage habits: keep your flour in a cool, dry cupboard (or in the fridge or freezer), use it up before its best-by date, and you'll enjoy the best baking results possible.

If you can't find flour at your supermarket, you can always order via our online shop.

Homemade whole grain bread recipes

1. Mini loaves of whole grain bread

These little loaves are perfect for breakfast or a snack. They’re also easy to personalize.


  • 15 g of butter (1 tablespoon)
  • 10 g of salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 225 ml of warm water (1 cup)
  • 225 g of whole wheat flour (1 cup)
  • 115 g of bread flour (1/2 cup)


  • Mix the flours with the salt.
  • Mix the yeast with the warm water.
  • Combine the yeast water with the flours, then add the butter and knead until elastic.
  • Then make a ball out of the dough and let rest until it doubles in size.
  • Knead again and then form mini loaves.
  • Let it sit a few minutes longer, then make small slices on the stop of each loaf.
  • Bake.

Do you know the answer to the following question?

What is the Healthiest Non-fattening Bread?

2. Mini whole grain bread loaves with vegetables

This recipe is a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables. Parents, let your imagination fly!


  • 100 g of margarine (1 cup)
  • 1/2 kg of whole wheat flour
  • 125 ml of water (1/2 cup)
  • 20 g of salt (1 tablespoon)
  • 25 g of yeast
  • 20 g of sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • 300 ml of lukewarm skim milk (1 1/2 cups)
  • 200 g of vegetable puree (1 cup): carrot, yam, spinach, etc.


  • Combine the margarine, milk, salt, and sugar until smooth.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the water and then add to the mixture.
  • Gradually add the flour.
  • Next, add the vegetable puree.
  • Knead for 10 minutes and then let it sit.
  • Once it’s doubled in size, flour your workspace and form the mini loaves.
  • On a floured pan, place the loaves. Leave enough space between them for even baking.

3. Savory whole grain bread with spices

It’s so easy to add whatever flavors you like to these whole grain bread recipes. To make this one, you’ll prepare two different doughs and then combine them.

Ingredients: dough #1

  • 75 ml of water (1/3 cup)
  • 5 g of salt
  • 100 g of bread flour
  • 25 g of yeast

Ingredients: dough #2

  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 5 g of salt
  • 200 g of whole wheat flour (1 cup)
  • 200 g of bread flour (1 cup)
  • 150 ml of lukewarm water
  • 5 g of sugar
  • 20 g of olive oil
  • 2.5 g of oregano
  • 2.5 g of ground black pepper


  • Mix all ingredients for dough #1.
  • Let it sit until it doubles in size.
  • In another container, combine the rest of the ingredients.
  • Mix and then add the water, little by little.
  • Combine the two doughs and knead for 15 minutes.
  • Let it sit on a warm tray until it doubles in size again.
  • Bake.

Now you know how versatile whole grain bread can be — and all varieties are very healthy. Keep track of the timing it takes to bake them, then you’ll soon be enjoying flavorful, moist whole grain bread.

Orange rice chiffon cake (page 56)

From Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich

Are you sure you want to delete this recipe from your Bookshelf. Doing so will remove all the Bookmarks you have created for this recipe.

  • Categories: Cakes, large Dessert Cooking ahead Cooking for a crowd Gluten-free
  • Ingredients: sugar eggs white rice flour oranges
  • Accompaniments:Rose whipped cream

Organic Buckwheat Flour

All natural raw organic buckwheat flour is nutritious and delicious. A great alternative to traditional flour. Ground from the whole seeds (berries) of the buckwheat plant. A good source of protein and minerals.

Ingredients: STEP 1-1 Tbsp Yeast, Active Dry, 1/4 cup warm Water, 1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 1/2 cup Organic Buckwheat Flour, 3/4 tsp Salt, 1 cup cold Water. STEP 2-1 Tbsp Turbinado Sugar, 2 Tbsp melted Margarine, 1/2 tsp Baking Soda, 1/4 cup hot Water.

Directions: Step 1: Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in yeast and cold water. Cover and refrigerate overnight or several hours.

Step 2: Combine above mixtures and add ingredients listed under “Step 2”.

7) Cricket Flour

Cricket flour isn’t for everyone (and it isn’t for me either).

However, if the idea of eating ground insects doesn’t repel you, then it is a protein-rich alternative to wheat flour.

Cricket flour is made by milling dried crickets into fine ground powder.

Cricket flour provides the following nutrients per 100 g (3.5 oz) serving (7).

Calories/Nutrient Amount
Calories 471 kcal
Carbohydrate 11.7 g
– Fiber 5.9 g
– Sugars 1.5 g
– Net Carbs 1.6 g
Fat 17.6 g
Protein 64.7 g

How Much To Use

You can’t use cricket flour as a direct replacement for wheat flour.

However, you can use it alongside a different low carb flour such as almond or macadamia meal.

For this purpose, use ½ cup of cricket flour per full cup of nut flour.

Taste Profile

I can’t personally comment on this, but cricket flour is said to have a somewhat nutty taste that many people enjoy.

Recipe Ideas

For something a bit different, there is a cricket flour “bread” here.

Where To Get It

Cricket flour is generally quite expensive, but you can find several options by searching online.

It is not a typical item in a general grocery store, but a quick search online should also bring up some local stockists.

Transcend the bran muffin: One woman’s manifesto for whole-grain baking

Think whole grains are “difficult” ingredients? Roxana Jullapat will set you straight.

Roxana Jullapat’s new cookbook, Mother Grains, is a hardcover dare: She defies the home baker to try whole grains and not get hooked. Everything we think about baking with them is wrong, as far as she’s concerned—and she stands ready to show the brave among us a better way.

More than ready. Jullapat is on a mission to upend preconceived notions about whole grains, most of them negative, having to do with the fact that each grain has a personality you can’t simply swap them out for white flour or each other. The book, which focuses on eight domestically grown grains, is the result of two years’ research and testing as she and her husband, chef Daniel Mattern, prepared to open Friends & Family bakery and café. Since 2017, they’ve fed whole-grain desserts, breads, and savory dishes to the mash-up of neighborhoods that converge at her East Hollywood location.

She is a convergence herself, following grain traditions from Costa Rica, where she grew up, and her step-grandmother’s French and Spanish influences. The book reflects that. Mother Grains is a master class in global grain: babka with rye flour blueberry muffins with spelt sweet corn empanadas and farro alla pilota, one of a handful of savory dishes.

Buckwheat fruit and nut bread featured in Mother Grains.

Previous zealots often sacrificed enjoyment in the name of purity (think of the throat-clogging desserts you encountered if you’re old enough to remember the 1970s’ natural food movement), or targeted a single ingredient for shaming, whether it was gluten, sugar, or dairy. Some of those campaigns changed the way we eat, though Jullapat raises a skeptical eyebrow about the value of the results: North America is the largest market for gluten-free bakery products in the world, far beyond the percentage of the population with a medical condition that requires abstinence. Jullapat considers that more a marketing coup than meaningful progress.

The third wave might well be the charm: Jullapat wants to insinuate grains into familiar recipes and let tasty nature take its course. “I want people to take this small risk with my recipes,” she said, “so that you learn to use this ingredient, learn to appreciate it. I want to lure you in.”

Like a politician reaching across the aisle, she’s prepared to work with the opposition to promote her agenda. The recipes use all-purpose flour and sugar alongside whole grains because it serves her purpose, which is to elevate the quality of whole-grain baked goods, make converts, and then ask them to do even more. She revamped a basic chocolate chip cookie eight ways, extolling the difference each grain makes in the final product, certain that bakers will find one they like better than the standard.

She doesn’t care that it’s an uphill battle, that most market shelves are still weighed down with bleached white all-purpose flour. She doesn’t care that quality whole grains cost more than commodity flour. The revolution has to start somewhere. And after just over 20 years in the pastry kitchen, she sees herself at the vanguard of a new movement, with nothing less than a whole-grain renaissance as the destination—for everybody.

“I like to root for the underdog, people, flour, everything. I’m not an award-winning chef,” she said. “I’m never on the list of nominees for this or that, so I don’t have to subject myself to certain norms of behavior. I want my bread to be an everyday thing, not ‘Here’s my precious bread, take a picture.’”

She’s not concerned if her intensity rankles people along the way. “I’ll pick a fight with whoever the hell I want, and in fact I do all the time. This book is because I’m trying to pick a fight. My goal is to show them, and sometimes I don’t even know who the ‘them’ is. It’s just the general ‘them.’”

Then she smiled, to take the edge off what she’s about to say, though not to sand it down altogether.

“What gets me up in the morning is spite.”

A pain d’amande, a filled almond cake featured in Mother Grains.

In that spirit, her rebuttal to our misconceptions:

I can’t bake: It’s too easy to fail, and there are too many rules.

Why would people be intimidated by any of this? That’s your first act of rebellion. People say things like ‘I could never bake.’ It’s a common commentary, this self-deprecating, self-defining commentary, but it’s more of a reflection of their personality and how they perceive themselves in the kitchen than of any reality. I’ve taught enough classes to know that there are some people who might not bake with ease, but I don’t think it’s beyond anyone.

I learned to bake as a child, very, very young, watching my mom, who’s a terrible cook and just an all-right baker. And I’ve trained staff for 20 years. I’ve seen people at all levels—with disabilities, difficulties, language barriers—learn how to bake. In my book, baking is not an impossible skill in any way. Quite the opposite.

And the thing about rules is, people don’t understand them. Once you do, it’s a knowledge gained. Rather than being oppressive or limiting, rules give you the freedom to concentrate on other things, because you have this knowledge of the dos and don’ts. And in baking, they aren’t arbitrary rules. They’re science-based rules.

Grains are too confusing. All-purpose flour is reliable.

I remember thinking that if I’m going to send a message, my voice has to be clear, loud, and eloquent. The message of grains has to be easy to narrate, and everybody should be able to say it.

I had a game plan based on the 20 x 󈧘 California Grain Campaign [created by a group of California farmers, millers, bakers and farmers markets] that started in 2016: By the year 2020, 20 percent of goods sold at participating farmers markets would be locally grown. If a vendor made bread, 20 percent of the product composition had to be whole grain. So I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to borrow this idea and say that by the year 2020 every baked good we make at Friends & Family will have at least 20 percent whole grain flour.’ That was a very achievable goal, I could articulate it, we put it on the website, all our staff knew.

Any time we formulated a recipe from ground zero, the first step was to think of the flour composition, do the math, estimate 20 percent. Not hard to do. And a lot of the recipes benefited from even higher percentages. So we have recipes that are at 20 percent and recipes that are 100 percent whole grain.

Some are really tough, like croissants, where we have played with higher percentages and then shied away. But to this day I’m surprised about the positive effects of whole grains. You might expect to have to compensate with more moisture or shorter baking times, but the rules don’t always apply from one flour to the next, one recipe to the text, which is what I’m figuring out. I made a sponge cake the other day that was 100 percent whole-grain flour. It’s fun to be surprised, after 20 years of doing this.

If you have someone who makes beautiful flour, makes it user-friendly, then the job is already half done. If you don’t, the mission could die in the field.

As for the recipes themselves, there’s an intuitive process to cooking and baking, in which you tend to put together things that grow together or look alike or come from a similar geographic region or culinary tradition. Bakers with a certain amount of mileage think similarly, and it’s very common to see bakers match dark grains with dark flavors such as brown sugar or chocolate, or assertive spices, like caraway with rye. I don’t want to say that I haven’t seen some of these flavor combinations before rye and chocolate are not a rarity at all, brownies with rye flour, our rye and chocolate babka.

But I need another brain where I can put more new ideas. A lot of these recipes seem like epiphanies, like ‘Oh, how come I never thought of that before?’ And others, ‘I know there’s something there, but I need to explore it further.’

I’ve always put little bits of different flours here and there. If I made a cookie, I’d put corn flour in it because it has a nice grit. Nancy [Silverton, of La Brea Bakery and Campanile, where Jullapat worked from 2000 to 2002] used a bit of semolina here and there. And when I made crepes, I always put in some buckwheat. The bread I buy for my house has always been whole wheat.

I was on hiatus for two years before we opened Friends & Family in 2017, testing, doing home research, thinking of the bakery we would open it was a time of curiosity. I baked with flours from everywhere, but when Nan Kohler opened her mill in Pasadena, Grist & Toll, the whole thing cracked open for me. She showed me the possibilities when you have really great grain and a robust grain economy. If you have someone who makes beautiful flour, makes it user-friendly, then the job is already half done. If you don’t, the mission could die in the field.

Hers made all the difference.

I already eat healthy baked goods. I love bran muffins.

I love a bran muffin. All through college, my breakfast was a big bran muffin I bought at the coffee shop on the corner, nothing special, probably full of sugar, wrapped in plastic. I really like that bran flavor.

But I realized that we don’t have recipes for bran muffins in this whole-grain renaissance—because bran muffins happen when you extract the bran from whole-grain flour and it becomes an ingredient itself. How can you re-create that without having to validate the misstep of removing bran? Because we don’t want to do that at all. I don’t want to send that message out there.

I just realized this, so I’m not there yet, in terms of a solution, but it happens all the time. Immediately my mind went to tons of orange zest and dried black currants. We’ll figure out the rest: I’d need to mill wheat coarsely so I can sift out larger pieces of bran, and then grind those myself to make them easier to use.

Gluten is the enemy. Sugar is the enemy. One ingredient is the enemy.

There was an obnoxious period of time in the mid-2000s when there was a lot of gluten-free stuff, a lot of quinoa and amaranth, a garbanzo bean flour kind of moment. Very healthy, very L.A., very Brooklyn. Very Gwyneth Paltrow, for lack of a better word. And people were focused on ‘no’: I’m doing an elimination diet, or I’m not doing sugar, or I’m not doing gluten.

It was huge it still is huge. It’s very smart marketing because it sounds like an alternative culture of cooking and caters to a specific group of people.

But bakeries have existed for a long time and have always fulfilled a role in society, like bars. Should everyone go to a bar every day and have a drink? No. Should people have a drink at 9 in the morning? No. There is a time and a place for things we consume at a bakery, too, just like at a bar. Nothing good is going to come from bakers vilifying one type of food: When we attach adjectives such as ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious’ or ‘high-fiber,’ we put ourselves in a niche before we’ve baked a thing.

Jullapat sees there is a time and a place for the things we consume at a bakery. She says adjectives like “healthy” or “nutritious” put us in a niche before we’ve baked them.

I brought all my experience to baking with whole grains, so these baked goods can still be completely decadent and delicious and worthy of a beautiful pastry case. And the reason is this: They are an alternative to all this talk of single things that are bad for us: Sugar is inflammatory, corn oil is subsidized. There’s more of a ‘calm down’ counterculture of having food closest to its purest form, and that’s my approach to baking.

How do you see a bakery in terms of health and nutrition? Pastries are not something to eat every day, but they’re something we can eat every week. Don’t have a croissant every day. I don’t have a pastry every day. Many times, I’ll have a slice of bread with butter or peanut butter. And then tomorrow, a cup of overnight oats. And then the next day, I might share a croissant with whoever is next to me.

There are plenty of baked goods in the repertoire of a grain-forward baker to create a balanced diet within a given period of time. Moments when you eat a little bit more, moments when you watch what you eat.

What’s the point? One person can’t make a difference.

People say that recycling is a distraction from the fact that we use a massive amount of plastic for the most superfluous of reasons, so true. The problem is the choice to use it, not the fact that we can recycle it.

And yet one can never ignore the power of a dollar. So the fact that an ever-growing group of consumers choose to abstain from buying commodity flour sends a message to the industry at large, that we are looking for better grain. That people who can are willing to pay a higher cost, that we understand the dynamics that make commodity flour less costly, like subsidies and corporate loopholes. And that we are aware of the consequences of industrial agriculture on the environment.

A trend like this also sends a message to smaller independent producers who realize, ‘Yes, I have an audience, I have a public.’ We’re telling them, ‘Yes, we like what you’re doing, please keep doing it.’

One can only hope that in making their operations more financially sustainable, we help reduce the cost of the flour. I want everyone who reads this freaking book to think that yes, buying better flour will make it more accessible to everyone.

We’re such a big country that we can’t seem to have a conversation that doesn’t involve a macro way of looking at things, whether it’s production or distribution. What if right now the price we are paying is just right? We have a skewed vision of the price of food. I don’t want to sound elitist I’m a woman of the people. I want everybody to be able to eat better. And I feel it is an act of justice to buy better food for myself, because I’m educating myself and a group of bakers about using better foodstuffs, ones that are better for the environment. That affects all of us. I’m benefiting a farmer’s family and their workers. I’m acquiring knowledge and sharing it with others.

The goal is baking with 100 percent whole grain, which will require a couple of things. One is a steady supply of whole-grain flours, which is not the case right now. Even though the supply is good, it’s not consistent. The second thing will be a comfortable price point. And the third would be a good reception from the public, where you don’t have to explain that ‘Yes, this whole-grain croissant is not as tall as the other one—but it’s whole grain.’ If you have to explain the value of that to everybody, every single time, somebody is going to hit the wall, your staff, or yourself. But that is the goal. I think I will achieve it in my lifetime, and a lot of bakeries are doing it. I’m not alone.

In her bakery, Jullapat’s goal is to bake with 100 percent whole grain. A goal she hopes to achieve in her lifetime.


  1. Fenrigar

    I'm waiting for the continuation of the post ...;)

  2. Duff

    Unambiguously, the ideal answer

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