Panelists at All Thing Baking discuss what whole grain is and how bakers can incorporate it.
What is a whole grain? At its simplest, it is a grain that contains the bran, germ and endosperm, though there are numerous points of contention surrounding this very basic definition.
"We need to educate consumers about whole grain," said Aaron Clanton (pictured), an instructor at AIB, during the "Working with Whole Grains" educational session at All Things Baking. "That falls on all of us, the government included."
Clanton spent several minutes defining what counts as whole grain and what doesn't, fielding multiple questions throughout. Wheat, rye, corn rice, oats, barley, millet, sorghum (which Clanton confessed tastes reminiscent of dirt), teff, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, spelt, farro, bulgher and durum all are considered whole grains. Among the ingredients commonly misidentified as whole grain are soybeans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flax, arrowroot and pearled barley.
"Is all whole wheat whole grain?" one attendee asked. "All whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat," he replied.
"Is white wheat considered whole grain?" another chimed in. "That strain of wheat is white naturally," he said.
"How many grains does a product need to be multigrain?" asked another. "Three," he said, adding with a laugh that the overall percentage of whole grain to be multigrain isn't regulated.
Then it was Dave Kovacic's turn to field questions, as the director of technical services at Bay State Milling took over the microphone to talk about formulating with whole grains.
He recommended an incremental approach to incorporating whole grains, starting with 10 percent whole grain flour and gradually working up. Starting at around 50 percent whole grain flour, bakers need to make more notable adjustments to formulation and process.
His recommendations included:
"How much whole grain do I have to add before I can label my product whole grain? 51 percent?" someone asked. "If you're selling it to the school system, yes. If you're going to market it in your bakery as 100 percent whole grain, you need to use 100 percent whole grain flour." Clanton said.
"What about whole grain flour versus other processed whole grain?" another attendee asked. "Almonst all grains can be ground into flour," Kovacic said. "It's better and easier to use than pieces and parts."
A handful of us absently surpassed the session end time by 15 minutes, as we continued to pepper the two panelists with questions. Clanton asked if there was another session after ours. "Nope," Kovacic said. Another hand went up almost instantly with a question about sprouted grain. I think we could have stayed in there all day drilling those two, but alas, there was more show yet to see.