I’m no fan of white flour, to say the least. I haven’t totally banished it from my cupboard, but the fact that it’s buried in the back shows how little I value it. It wasn’t always this way. I grew up on the stuff just like everyone else of my generation. Squishy white bread sandwiches with a glass of chocolate milk and the Wonderful World of Disney on the television was my idea of a perfect Sunday evening. That same soft bread often got compressed into demonic spitballs in the school cafeteria.
Let’s face it: White flour is hard to resist. It’s so damned seductive. Bury your hand in a newly opened bag and it feels like powdered silk. Mix it with some butter, buttermilk, and leavening and you’ve got biscuits so tender they melt in your mouth. Wait a minute. Is that a good thing? Actually, they gum to a paste on your tongue and the roof of your mouth. A teenager sporting full metal tracks of braces is a sight not to behold after eating one. Anatomically we are blessed with powerful jaws and strong teeth to consume not only meat, but also vegetables, fruits, and grains with fiber. White flour is super processed and bland, and it’s meant to be that way so that the eggs, butter, sugar, and other flavorings that transform it into irresistible cakes and cookies are what shine through.
Going against the grain (pun intended) isn’t easy at first. As parents obsessed with our children’s health, we vowed to adopt whole-grain everything, but even though I’m a well-trained cook, my early attempts were stodgy, and well, gross. Everything changed when I discovered whole-wheat pastry flour, ground from soft wheat. It has less gluten than the wheat used for all-purpose flour and it substitutes beautifully for white flour in many recipes. The results were so good that I turned it into a game with my daughters and their friends. I’d bake up muffins or cookies and see if they noticed. The verdict? They devoured what I made and asked for more. What better endorsement could you ask for?
And in an ode to all things whole-grain, I’ve whipped up my better than ever S’mores Crêpes made with, you guessed it, whole-wheat pastry flour. Get the recipe over on Epicurious and don’t forget to stay tuned to the Gourmet Live app this week to read more about my on-again, off-again affair with crepes.