Baking with Whole-Grain Flour

Pastry chef Kim Boyce talks about the recipes in her new book, Good to the Grain

If you're looking to liven up your baking, you'll want to check out Good to the Grain a fresh and original cookbook focusing on whole-grain flours. The book, by former Spago and Campanile pastry chef Kim Boyce, was recently highlighted in the New York Times Book Review's summer reading issue. We recently caught up with Boyce about her work.

How were you inspired to create this book? And why the focus on whole-grain flours?
After I left the professional kitchen and decided to stay home with my daughters, I still baked every day. I turned to whole-grain flours for two reasons. First, I was baking so much for my family, I didn't want to keep baking with all that white flour and white sugar. At the same time, we were going through a kitchen remodel, so I needed easy recipes I could make on a plug-in griddle. I came across a 10-grain pancake and waffle mix and was shocked to find how much more flavor baking with whole grains added.

Do you still think of yourself as a pastry chef, or are you now a home baker?
I happen to have pastry chef training, but when I wrote the book I was a home baker, baking for my family. I decided to write from the mind-set of a home baker shopping at the regular grocery store.

Why are your chocolate chip cookies so incredibly good, even though the recipe uses all whole-wheat flour? What's your secret?
I felt like that was the recipe I was going to be judged by. When I set out to create that cookie, I thought, "What's my perfect chocolate chip cookie? It's chewy in the center and crispy at the edges." What I found, and this is really key, was that even though the recipe has 100 percent whole-wheat flour, it still needed as much butter and sugar as a traditional cookie. So I didn't skimp.

My kids are obsessed with your buttermilk pancake recipe. How is it possible that there’s no oil or butter in the batter?
Because I use a lot of butter on the griddle! That's what gives the pancakes those nice edges. In a pancake, you don't actually need a lot of fat in the batter. (Waffles are another story.) Pancake success is more about the right ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

You also have an incredible recipe for flatbreads. Why did you use amaranth flour?
It's a really pungent, strongly flavored, almost sour flour. When working with it, I tried to find ingredients that would temper the flavor rather than mask it. It lends the flatbreads such a nice note of underlying grassiness.

I was excited to see that you included teff flour, and I am dying to try the injera recipe. What inspired you to include it?
I came across teff flour at Whole Foods, and so I decided to try making injera (a traditional Ethiopian bread). Although injera's sourness comes from the aging process, the teff flour actually reminded me of a cocoa powder mix. It was sweet and milky and cocoa-like, so I incorporated it with some brown butter into my hazelnut muffins. The teff flour also adds crispness to the graham crackers.

Was any recipe especially difficult to perfect?
Yes, the coconut cookies with coconut flour and barley flour. I had never heard of coconut flour, and I started working with it and it smelled so fragrant. I tried to make a cupcake, but I had to scrap that whole idea because it can get really gummy. So I decided to work it into a cookie instead.

So, do you ever bake with plain old all-purpose flour anymore?
After I finished the book and went through edits, I was so sick of looking at it. The holidays were coming and I rebelled. All I did was bake with white flour! Now, though, I've come back to whole grains.

Do you prefer to bake with whole grains or white flour? Chime in below!

Like this? Read these!
- How to Choose Chocolate for Baking
- Classic Desserts Made Allergy-Free
- Chewy, Gooey Sweet Treats That Kids Can Make

Cheryl Sternman Rule writes iVillage's food news column, The Daily Feed. She is also the voice behind 5 Second Rule.

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