Where Did We Go Wrong?
Healthy recipes for baking go back centuries before the advent of white flour yet most of us have been fed little in the way of whole grains most of our lives. It was after 1870 that wheat grinding changed significantly with the advent of iron, steel or porcelain rollers instead of stone. This produced a more refined flour and the rest is history. I could go on and on, but would instead send you to http://www.grainmillandwheatgrinder.com/history-of-white-flour.html where in just a few minutes you can get the rest of the story. My story is that I use way less white flour in my baking, choosing instead whole wheat, and sometimes using oat flour, or even barley flour. I experiment using these whole grains in bread, muffins and cookies. Consider that all whole grain flours are not created equal. I like getting my whole wheat flour, and white flour from King Arthur Flour Company after I read an article about them in Smithsonian Magazine several years ago. It stated that King Arthur was the only flour the French imported from America it was that good! I get my other flours and cornmeal from the small producers like Arrowhead Mills, Red’s Mill, or Hodgson Mill. I encourage you to add more whole grains in your diet which may be a challenge at first, but if you get the book, Whole Grain Baking by King Arthur Flour you will be exposed to over 500 pages of whole grain baking recipes, and information about whole grains in general. There is a baker’s hotline included in the book that has been quite useful to me on several occasions.One of the things I learned from the hotline was to keep my whole grain flours in the freezer as whole grains can go rancid. The phone number for the hotline is 802-6493717. Not all these are healthy recipes, like the lovely Lemon-Raspberry Cake that graces the cover, but there are hundreds of recipes that are healthier than most baking recipes us Americans use. Try increasing your whole grain consumption by getting a copy of this amazing baking book, and see if you agree with me that it is the best whole grain recipe resource out there.
Almost all of my posts include my original recipes, but when I find a recipe worth sharing I change my routine for you dear readers. Today’s venture into whole grain baking took place here at the Fast and Furious test kitchen,(my home), and featured brownies from page 341 in the above mentioned baking book. I tried the applesauce version that cuts the amount of butter or oil in half. I have baked with applesauce to cut down on fat in baking recipes for years with excellent results, and recommend you give it a try too if you haven’t already. Today’s experiment is going to be a gift to the staff and volunteers of St Vincent’s Villa in Timonium, Maryland where I volunteer each Wednesday mentoring a 12 year old boy that lives there. I bet they won’t even know that these are a healthier recipe for brownies unless I decide to tell them. If you want to try this recipe, it is here by permission of the good bakers at King Arthur Flour.
Double Fudge Browines
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t espresso powder (optional)
1 T vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups traditional whole wheat flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.
Melt the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan set over low heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the microwave (or heat) briefly, until it’s hot and starting to bubble. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust.
Stir in the cocoa, baking powder, salt espresso powder(if using) and vanilla. Cool the mixture until you can test it with your finger: it should feel like comfortably hot bath water. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth, them add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepare pan.
Bake the brownies until a cake tester or sharp knife poked into the center reveals wet crumbs but not raw batter, 30 minutes. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack: cover when cool. Let sit over night before serving: this gives the bran a chance to soften, giving the brownie a more pleasing texture.
Cut the fat by substituting 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce for 1/2 cup butter: add after the vanilla. The brownies will have a slightly milder chocolate flavor and slightly less fudgy texture.