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We’ve covered a lot of baking so far in our series: spelt, einkorn, and whole wheat (and whole white wheat). We still have more flours to explore, including the vast world of gluten and grain-free flour options.
Today, we’re going to roll up our sleeves, open the flour bags, and explore one last grain flour: whole wheat pastry flour. We’re also going to share in a delicious snack that many of us enjoyed before our real food days, Pop Tarts.
Oh don’t worry, I’m not opening a box of processed rectangles. No, no! We’re whipping up a batch of homemade whole wheat Pop Tart goodness from scratch.
But, first… flour!
What is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
Whole wheat pastry flour is a whole wheat flour that includes the germ, endosperm, and bran, but with a lighter taste and texture than whole wheat flour. If you’re new to whole wheat, I’d recommend reading more about whole wheat flour here.
As we discussed in the whole wheat lesson, there are many varieties of whole wheat berries, ranging from earthy and dark in color, such as red hard wheat (“whole wheat flour”) to light almost white in color, such as soft white wheat. Pastry flour is made from soft white wheat berries that are ground for baking, resulting in a whole grain that’s light and fluffy and lacks the dense quality produced by whole wheat flour.
Whole pastry flour contains less gluten and protein (Bob’s Red Mill’s Whole Wheat Pastry Flour contains 3 grams of protein per serving) than whole wheat flour, and more carbohydrates.
Why Should I Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
While I strive for healthy baking, I also desire baked goods that are delicious and mimic the white flour treats that I enjoyed as a kid. Whole wheat pastry flour is the perfect solution for baking healthier, lighter goods without compromising on the whole grain aspect of eating “real.” Baked goods made with whole wheat pastry flour are light, fluffy, and mild in taste compared to red hard wheat (“whole wheat flour”) goods.
How Can I Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
Whole wheat pastry flour is perfect for lighter baked goods, such as: scones, pie crusts, biscuits, pancakes, muffins, cookies and waffles. Whole wheat pastry flour is a great transitional flour as you can easily substitute this whole grain flour in recipes that call for 100% all-purpose flour.
If you’re just switching over to whole grain baking, replace 1/2 a cup of all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour in your favorite baked goods. If you’re already used to a whole grain taste, but desire to make lighter cookies or other goodies (particularly around the holidays), try substituting whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 the flour) instead of whole wheat flour. When completely replacing all-purpose white flour with whole wheat pastry flour I abide by the rule of 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon. For example: if a recipe calls for 2 cups of all-purpose flour, I’ll use 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour minus 1 tablespoon.
Just like einkorn flour, whole wheat pastry flour is slow to absorb water which means less kneading is needed for yeast breads and more rest time. If possible, allow batters made with whole wheat pastry flour to rest on the counter for about fifteen-thirty minutes before baking. For cookies, refrigerating the dough (like this recipe) can help produce a whole grain cookie with a wonderfully soft texture.
How Do I Store Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
Wheat berries have a longer shelf-life than pastry flour (ground berries) when kept in sealed containers to prevent moisture and bugs from contaminating the grain. Whole wheat pastry flour (ground berries) can be stored in a cool, dry place for one to three months or long-term in the freezer.
Soft wheat berries require grinding at home, but this can easily be accomplished with a grain mill. My grain mill has a “pastry” setting which makes grinding berries into whole wheat pastry flour easy. Berries can be found online through Amazon and Bob’s Red Mill and natural food stores (look in the bulk section for the best price).
For whole grain baking, look for “Whole Wheat Pastry Flour” versus the white, refined counterpart, “Pastry Flour.”
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour Recipes to Get You Started
To get you started with whole wheat pastry flour, I’ve compiled a few real food recipes that specifically call for whole wheat pastry flour. Remember, you can also use whole wheat pastry flour in your favorite recipes that call for all-purpose white flour.
Soaked Whole Wheat Biscuits from Live Simply
Sparkling Ginger Chip Cookies from 101 Cookbooks
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from Live Simply
Soaked Whole Wheat Orange Cranberry Scones from My Humble Kitchen
Whole Wheat Toasted Pumpkin Almond Muffins from How Sweet It Is
Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles from The Elliott Homestead
Homemade Animal Crackers from The Elliott Homestead
Finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for…Pop Tarts!
Homemade Pop Tarts start with a light, flaky pastry pie crust. Whole wheat pastry flour is the perfect whole grain for creating pie crusts, along with einkorn, which makes it the perfect flour for this recipe.
I’ll confess, homemade Pop Tarts require extra time to make, more than what I want to spend in the kitchen on an average day. I reserve homemade Pop Tarts for a special occasions like birthdays, or in the fall when baking is contagious and the kids and I feel like rolling dough and spending hours in the kitchen.
I chose to fill these Pop Tarts with my homemade (best ever!) applesauce, but you can also use jam or even make savory Pop Tarts with cheese and pizza sauce or pesto.
Homemade Whole Wheat Applesauce Pop-Tarts
In a food processor (like this), add the flour and salt. Pulse together for 5 seconds.
Add the cold butter cubes to the flour. Pulse until the butter resembles coarse crumbs.
With the food processor running, add the ice cold water until the mixture begins to form a ball of dough. Turn off the food processor and separate the dough into two balls. Flatten each ball and wrap with parchment paper or wax paper. Place the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (up to 2 days).
After an hour, preheat the oven to 375F.
On a floured surface (I use silicone baking mats with flour sprinkled over the top), roll each dough into a rectangle. Trim the sides so they are straight with a knife or pizza-cutter, then cut the dough into small rectangles.
Carefully, with a spatula, place half the rectangles on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and tablespoon of water. Brush the rectangles on the baking sheet with the egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon of apple cinnamon applesauce in the middle of each rectangle and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top the rectangles with the remaining Pop Tart rectangles. Crimp the edges down with a fork to seal.
Brush the tops of each Pop Tart with the remaining egg wash.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden.
Sprinkle with organic powdered sugar for an extra treat.
Freezer Tip: Homemade Pop Tarts can be frozen and defrosted in the toaster from a frozen state. Store the Pop Tarts in a freezer-safe bag or container, between parchment or wax paper.
More Ultimate Fall Baking:
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!