Whole Wheat and Its Use

The natural 100 percent whole wheat bread is to be used and valued.

By EDNA A. HILL, Home Economics Department, University of Kansas

Although eminent medical and nutri­tional authorities are agreed that bread made with enriched white flour is a very desir­able emergency measure, they do not believe that this synthetic enrichment is a substitute for all the nutrients lost in the refining of white flour. It is only by using the natural 100 percent whole wheat that we may expect to get all the nutrients that are possible through products in which flour is a basic element....

Next, we must see that the whole wheat is finely ground and fresh—free from rancidity. Too often when the housewife makes a whole-wheat product, she finds that it does not have the expected nutty flavor, a disappointment which has been a handicap to its use. A small hand mill available for less than three dollars does make it possible, however, to grind small amounts of wheat as needed, thereby assuring freshness. If we develop sufficient interest and demand for good whole-wheat bread, some miller will doubtless be encouraged to work on the problem of producing a satisfactory whole-wheat flour that will stay fresh for a reasonable length of time.

At the beginning of our work on whole-wheat bread at the State university of Iowa we purchased wheat from a feed store, washed, dried, and ground it, and made bread, using a basic white-flour recipe. Our first attempts were miserable failures. We soon learned that we could not make good bread without good wheat. We discovered also that we could determine, to a considerable extent, the flavor of the bread if we tasted the ground raw wheat. Good wheat has a rich, nutty flavor that is unmistakable. Poor wheat has a flat taste or, in some cases, the rank, acrid aftertaste of a definitely rancid product.

After our first failures we continued to search for good wheat, and after a number of unsuccessful attempts we were able to find clean, hard winter wheat of excellent quality. With an electric mill we started grinding the wheat into flour. Our third problem was to develop a recipe that could be used satisfac­torily by homemakers. We tried many differ­ent combinations and proportions of ingredients as well as different methods of mixing, and finally developed a recipe which was univer­sally well liked. In fact, we found that many preferred our Ioo per cent whole-wheat bread to the white, when we had experimented long enough to develop a loaf that could stand on its own merits, judged by the predetermined standard—excellent eating qualities and high nutritive value.

The next problem was to find on the market good whole-wheat flour made of hard winter or hard spring wheat, in order to secure suf­ficient volume in the loaf. Eventually we found a number of kinds of suitable flour. Obviously, it had to be purchased in small quantities and stored in a cool place for short periods of time. Having developed a satisfac­tory recipe for a Too per cent whole-wheat bread that homemakers might use successfully, we determined to make the flour easily available through local grocers.

We then launched a promotional campaign by extending invitations to a group of about sixty housewives and social workers to attend a bread-making demonstration. During a one-hour period the women saw the bread at various states in its making, from the sponge to the oven. Copies of the recipe were distrib­uted and whole-wheat bread sandwiches served. Following this, another group of sixty re­quested a similar demonstration, for many homemakers realize they need help in learning the best method of manipulation for whole-wheat products. If we stop short and merely tell homemakers to use whole wheat, it will be difficult to increase the present very small per­centage of whole-wheat users.

The whole-wheat bread also found favor with the home economics students, who decided to feature such bread in a food sale which they had been asked to sponsor. The students who made the 240 loaves for the food sale found they were unable to fill the many subsequent requests for the bread. With each loaf a recipe sheet with full directions was enclosed. After this, the sale of the whole-wheat flour markedly increased, and many people in the city were making the bread. Soon a local baker began to make the bread, using the recipe we had developed. Reports indicate that his sales are continuing and that the bread is now sold at a co-operative store.

Although whole wheat may be used most effectively in yeast bread, it should be used more frequently in other batter and dough products. It is not necessary to develop an entirely new series of recipes for all of these. Good cakes, cookies, and, of course, muffins, griddlecakes, and quick breads may be made with the whole-wheat flour. When these are prepared for people with definite prejudices, better results may be obtained if some en­riched white flour is used with the whole wheat at first, the proportion of whole wheat being gradually increased in succeeding reci­pes. For example, we found that those who had expressed dislike for whole wheat soon preferred the bread made with 8o and wo per cent whole wheat to that made with so per cent. A recipe for the bread follows:

(See PDF for table with recipe)

While I am confident that the twenty-five or thirty thousand professional home economists in the United States could more effectively encourage use of whole wheat in the future, it is exceedingly important that we enlist also the interest and active support of all the home­makers trained in home economics, who cer­tainly could be counted upon to assist in a program designed to improve the nutritional statues of people at all economic levels.

Even though we now have enriched white flour, we should continue to encourage the use of whole-wheat flour, and when we speak of white flour, let us say, enriched flour. The recommended dietary allowances can be effec­tive only through wiser utilization of available food products, of which bread is a basic item.

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By EDNA A. HILL, Home Economics Department, University of Kansas

October 1942

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