adapting to an industrial kitchen

Adapting in an Industrial Kitchen

To find out what professional bakers and dining services directors are doing to incorporate whole grains and whole-grain flours into their menus, we asked them:

Q. What inspired you to add whole grains and/or whole-grain flour to your menus at your school/university? What items did you start with and why?

Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services, Tufts University
We have many students, staff, and catered event guests who have requested more whole grains through either discussions or the yearly surveys.  We started using the One Mighty Mill stone-ground whole-wheat flour in our pizza dough.  We wanted to use the flour in an item we used often and made in big quantities.  Not only was this product local but it supported a local small business.  We then branched out to substituting half of the white flour in our quick breads for the stone ground wheat.

Dawn Woodward, Co-owner and Head Baker, Evelyn’s Crackers, Toronto
We started using whole grains because we wanted to use local grains. Living in Ontario, we knew that grains were still being grown here, but not on a commodity scale and we did not know what types of grains were being grown. When we first started sourcing directly from farmers, we could only get whole-grain flour. None of them were sifting. Now they are, but we fell in love with whole grain flours and won’t go back.

We started with crackers-originally the grains were rather coarsely milled and irregular in quality. Crackers were pretty foolproof and have a good shelf life. And we thought it was unique to make crackers by hand and use local whole grains.

Maine Course Culinary Team, University of Southern Maine
We wanted to expand our local ingredient use with ingredients that were primarily in constant supply. We were thrilled to partner with Maine Grains and identify several items of focus such as whole wheat & pastry flours, spelt, farro, yellow pea flour, whole yellow peas, cornmeal, rolled oats, and black barley. As chefs, we identified usages and incorporated them into our menus. With the farro, polenta & barley we already had recipes utilizing these in our menu planning system so that was a given. Collectively, we have done a lot of work creating recipes to incorporate the usage of the rest of the above grains such as in all scratch cookies and various baked goods; we even created various breading and batters utilizing the yellow pea flour.

Blair Marvin, Co-owner, Elmore Mountain Bread
By using fresh-milled flour, I can use the fermentation skills that I’ve learned to enhance the inherent aromas that are in the grains. This builds flavor in breads more than using fermentation alone to build the flavor.

Q. How have students, faculty, and staff responded to items with whole grains/whole grain flour? Have there been items that have worked well or not so well?

Patti Klos
It wasn’t as well-received as we had hoped. Dealing with the dough was a bit of a learning curve so keeping the pizza consistent seemed to be challenging. The new product wasn’t marketed very well so the best points of the new product were not showcased. The quick breads had a much better response since they didn’t change the look or texture of the product. We still use stone-ground wheat in two of our vegan oat bars which are very popular.

Dawn Woodward
People love the crackers and say they don’t taste like anything else on the market. We have since expanded into a line of whole-grain baked goods and reception has been very positive. People no longer comment on how weird it is to find a whole-grain baked good that tastes good. They are slowly becoming more familiar with non-wheat grains such as buckwheat, rye, and barley and are also intrigued by different wheat varieties.

Cookies, especially shortbread, have been the easiest sell. Scones are still hard. They are definitely heavier than a white flour scone and have to be super fresh. So we don’t make them a lot. Muffins are also very popular. Right now our two big sellers are a vegan buckwheat cake and a ginger buckwheat cake. The texture is still light, but there is so much flavor.

Maine Course Culinary Team
The newly-added grains have been fairly well-received, especially now with a focus on healthier plant-based eating which has helped us in that endeavor.

 Q. What kind of whole-grain flour did you use in your formulas: 100% whole grain flour substituted for 100% white flour? Sifted whole grain flour? A percentage (10%, 20%) of whole grain flour substituted for the same amount of white (or bread or all-purpose) flour?

Patti Klos
Our pizza recipe is 100% whole grain wheat flour to replace high gluten flour.  The quick breads used a 50/50 wheat to white all-purpose flour, and the oat bar uses 100% wheat flour.  None of these recipes use sifted whole wheat flour.

Dawn Woodward
We use 100% whole-grain flour.

Maine Course Culinary Team
For the cookies, we used 60% whole-wheat flour and 40% pastry flour for most applications which enabled us to stick within the formula’s recommended flour amount.

Blair Marvin
I make a variety of different breads, but they’re all made exclusively with organic stone-milled flour from whole grain. I base the breads on what grains are available to me each year after the harvest. This means that some years there are more single variety breads, and then some years there are fewer, depending on how the growing season went.

 Q. What are some of the challenges you’ve found in adapting or scaling recipes? (examples: sourcing whole grain flours, the timing of recipes, adjusting ingredient amounts, planning, baking/cooking times, etc.) What has surprised you?

Patti Klos
We had a few challenges:
– Deciding what percentage of wheat flour would work best, lots of trial and error.
– Adjusting liquid amounts as wheat flour requires more liquid than white flour.
– Increased cooking times and scaling. The product is heavier so the same size batch yields less.

Dawn Woodward
You usually have to adjust the amount of liquids and slightly increase the fats with whole-grain flours. Batters do better if they are able to sit overnight.  And bake times can take longer.

What has surprised me is how things can actually taste better the next day or even the day after. Whole grain baked goods stay fresher longer; the bran really absorbs liquid and the flavor keeps developing.

We also cut back on the sugar by about 10–30% on a lot of formulas because the grains have so much flavor and sweetness.

Maine Course Culinary Team
No surprises as baking is a science! Whole-grain flours create much denser products and water absorption is increased so the liquid and fat ratios were things we adjusted the most.

Q. What do you consider your biggest success? How did it happen?

Patti Klos
Our quick breads and oat bars have been very successful.  Through trial and error, we compared many batches to ensure they had the same taste and texture as the same recipe with white flour.

Dawn Woodward
Our biggest success is our pound cakes. I really wanted a larger higher priced item and people love them. It just started because it was hard to make a living on $2 cookies.

Maine Course Culinary Team
Our biggest success is first: our dedicated team of chefs I am proud to work with and secondly, we are making progress in getting our local recipes built into our global production system.

Q. What advice would you offer to another chef/baker/cook who is considering incorporating more whole grains or whole grain flour at the institution level?

Patti Klos
Know the customer.  If the customer has expressed interest, it will be easier to showcase these items and increase the amount of whole wheat flour.  In a university setting we have health-conscious customers, burger and pizza eaters, and everything in between.  Take baby steps incorporating these items to grow a following first.  Good food is good food, if you can make a healthier item that tastes amazing, that’s the goal!

Dawn Woodward
You just have to give it a try. I recommend searching out interesting wheats and also trying grains like rye and buckwheat.  And play with the grains like you play with spices: combinations are good and can yield new tastes and textures.

What tips would you give other bakers/institutions for baking with whole grains or whole-grain flours at scale?

Patti Klos
Be patient.  Not every recipe will adapt perfectly but make small adjustments to find the right balance.  With any baked item you must wait for the final product to assess how successful it is.  Larger batches will require many adjustments so be diligent with details when trying larger batches.

Dawn Woodward
Break your recipes down into bakers’ percentages, even non-bread ones, and let them rest. Initially, you might want to increase the liquid or pull back a bit on the dry ingredients.  Mixing methods are generally the same. If you are already a competent baker, it’s easy to switch to whole grains.

Maine Course Culinary Team
It takes a bit of patience in reformulation but creates a great result, and it’s grown here in our state (Maine)