Like whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour too is a whole grain flour meaning that whole wheat-berries are milled to obtain the flour. Unlike its refined counterpart (all-purpose flour), whole wheat flour is not devoid of the bran and germ making it more nutritious. But the question is how is whole wheat pastry flour different from whole wheat flour? The answer is simple. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled from low-protein soft spring wheat, whereas the regular whole wheat flour is milled from hard winter wheat. Softer the wheat, lower the protein content and thus suitable for baking all kinds of pastries including feathery light cookies, muffins, biscuits etc. Hard winter wheat will always be high in protein and hence a suitable choice for bread baking.
Like other whole grain flours, whole wheat pastry flour too has a shorter shelf life because of the oil content in the bran. Store whole wheat pastry flour in a cool dry place or preferably in the freezer to avoid getting rancid quickly.
Other names for whole wheat pastry flour
Whole wheat pastry flour is also known as Graham flour (in some brands but not always) and soft wheat flour. Cake flour/pastry flour should not be mixed up with whole wheat pastry flour. The former is the white counterpart of whole wheat pastry flour.
Why use whole wheat pastry flour?
As mentioned above the mellow protein content of this pastry flour makes healthy baking a breeze. Because whole wheat pastry flour is much softer, baked goods made with it will have a similar texture to that of white flour and you can still enjoy the health benefits of whole wheat.
Where is it available?
In Canada and US, whole wheat pastry flour is available in almost all grocery stores. You should be able to locate it in the baking aisle or natural/organic products aisle if the grocery store has one. The most popular brands are King Arthur's and Bob's Red Mill. There are so many other brands out there. As always, US residents can get it online from Amazon and other sites too. Here in Canada, I'm able to get it in bulk too in Bulk Barn.
Substitute for whole wheat pastry flour
Using regular whole wheat flour in place of whole wheat pastry flour is not a good idea. Because regular whole wheat flour is milled from hard wheat, the flavor and texture is not suitable for baking cookies, muffins, etc. It lends a robust flavor to the baked goods, which is not expected in pastries. So the best substitution will be using a mix of half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. So for instance if a recipe calls for 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour, you could use 1/2 cup each of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.
Recipes using whole wheat pastry flour
I'm a huge fan of whole wheat pastry flour. So I have a huge collection of whole wheat pastry flour recipes in the blog. Don't forget to check it out.