In the past three years, the bread aisle has become darker as white bread sales continue to fall and sales of whole wheat and whole grain breads increase. This trend may slowly be reversing as high-volume bakers, such as Sara Lee Food & Beverage, Downers Grove, Ill.; Canada-based George Weston Bakeries; and Interstate Bakeries Corp., Kansas City, Mo.; add white whole wheat breads to their portfolios.
In the last 12 months, the bread aisle has welcomed countless new products all with the same goal: delivering whole grain nutrition in a product that looks, tastes and feels like white bread. All of these products use a variety of wheat that is absent of a major gene that gives bran color.
White whole wheat flour not only is light in color, but is milder in flavor than traditional whole wheat flour, resulting in a whole wheat flour that is more attractive to consumers of traditional refined flour products. The flavor of white whole wheat often is described as sweet, because the wheat does not contain the phenolic compounds found in red wheat that impart bitter tastes.
The white whole wheat flour used in the baking industry mainly comes from hard white winter wheat and hard white spring wheat. However, growing demand from cookie manufacturers has caused one white wheat supplier to introduce a soft white wheat variety.
Formulating and manufacturing bakery foods with white whole wheat flour is similar to working with whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour generally has a low protein content that requires additional gluten. However, flour suppliers continually are developing new varieties of white whole wheat flour with increased protein contents. Some of these products have between 12% and 14% protein.
Bakers have taken one of two approaches when launching white whole wheat products. The first approach, used by Sara Lee and George Weston Bakeries, involves a blend of white whole wheat flour and enriched white flour. Typical blends are 70% enriched white flour to 30% white whole wheat flour. These products deliver whole grain nutrition that parents want, in a product designed to mimic traditional white breads.
The second approach is a 100% white whole wheat product. Although difficult to manufacture, some bakers have found success with 100% whole grain products that retain some of the characteristics of traditional enriched white flour bakery foods.
Regardless of the white wheat strategy, it is essential for bakers to align with a reputable flour supplier who has a history of success with white whole wheat flour. When sourcing this ingredient, consider the following:
- As the science behind breeding grows, it is essential for a flour supplier to develop wheat varieties with improved performance attributes.
- An extensive selection and breeding program ensures a supplier is growing the most ideal product for baking performance.
- Advanced milling technology is necessary to produce a fine-grind product that preserves all of the whole grain’s nutrients.
- A comprehensive supply chain ensures a consistent, identity-preserved supply of white whole wheat flour.
Problem Solver Quick Tip
White whole wheat flour not only is light in color, but is milder in flavor than traditional whole wheat flour, resulting in a whole wheat flour that is more attractive to consumers of refined flour products. The flavor of white whole wheat often is described as sweet because the wheat does not contain the phenolic compounds found in red wheat that impart bitter tastes.