The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on March 14, 2012.
Several weeks ago I found myself in a quandary. Every single recipe I had written about for the newspaper was a healthy one.
“It feels dishonest,” I fretted to my husband. “All this talk of kale and raw ginger is going to make people think I’m a health nut.”
“Well, they’d be wrong,” he said flatly.
I certainly didn’t want to mislead anyone. The sweet truth is, I’m no purist. I buy at least four pounds of butter each week, cream by the quart, and sugar by the 10-pound sack.
Once I decided on my solution—a rich berry cobbler—I ran into a second problem. The recipe called for a blend of five whole-grain flours in place of some the white flour, which would totally sully my image to not appear so wholesome.
It was my mother, not my husband, who pulled me out of my pit of despair. “Write about the cobbler without revealing the whole truth. Next time, talk about the blend,” she suggested. “You’ll just have to admit that you fudged a little.”
So, I confess. The flour in that cobbler recipe two weeks ago, the one with the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, wasn’t pure, lily-livered white. The rest of it was millet, rye, barley, oats, and whole wheat. Can you forgive me?
It’s for the flavor, not for the nutrition, that I add whole grains to my baked goods. Desserts are supposed to be decadent, and the desserts I make are quite lavish. The interesting thing is, I’ve found that whole grains add to the allure of baked goods. Buckwheat lends a dark complexity to apple pancakes. Whole wheat imparts an element of nuttiness to chocolate chip cookies. Corn flour gives a sunny lift to blueberry-lemon scones.
A five-flour blend that I discovered in Kim Boyce’s book, Good to the Grain, yields delightfully light-colored and delicate-textured baked goods with a mildly nutty-sweet taste. I am so smitten with it that I dump it into everything from waffles to breads to cobblers. That I’m using a slew of whole grains to make my desserts even more sumptuous fills me with glee. I’m being subversive and naughty—in a most wholesome way.
Some of these grains contain less gluten than regular all-purpose flour, so don’t swap in the five-flour blend for more than 50 percent of the total flour amount called for in recipes.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour
½ cup rye flour
½ cup millet flour
Combine the flours and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Use the blend in place of some of the white flour in pancakes, muffins, breads, cakes, cookies, and scones.