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I've made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Good to the Grain many times with King Author's whole wheat flour and they come out great. http://food52.com/blog/9497-kim-boyce-s-whole-wheat-chocolate-chip-cookies

When I mill hard red wheat and use it in the cookies (from finely milled to coarse) I get flat, barely edible cookies.

Anyone know why this happens and how I can fix it?


Edited to add: With the King Author wheat flour I use a 3T cookie scoop and the cookies flatten slightly and then raise. They have a slight crunch to them.

Using the milled flour and the same cookie scoop they at least double in diameter, do not raise much, and are very flat. They are really hard to bite and can only be eaten when dunked in milk.

I wish I had pictures, but the times I tried making them I didn't think to take any.

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    I seem to recall something about aging freshly milled flour before use, but I'm not sure if that applies here. – Ecnerwal Apr 11 '16 at 18:59
  • I can try that later in the week and check back in here for any other suggestions too. Thanks. – Ann Addicks Apr 12 '16 at 11:48
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    What consistency do you want and what consistency are you getting? You say barely edible, could you edit to give more detail what's wrong? – GdD Apr 12 '16 at 11:49
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    Most 'whole wheat' flour is white flour w/ bran mixed back in ... so it's possible that there were other processes besides just grinding that happened when making their flour. I'd try aging at at the very least, as Ecnerwal hinted at. – Joe Apr 12 '16 at 18:27
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    I'm not certain about hard red wheat, but I know that red winter wheat tends to be higher in protein and lower in gluten than common commercial wheats. I suspect this might have some bearing on the strange behavior of the cookies. – Shalryn Apr 13 '16 at 0:17
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The reason is because red wheat lacks the structure, and as such so too would your cookies. This in turn would lead your cookies to spread flat, and since it's so thin, become hard. If you want to bake with milled hard red wheat, I would suggest mixing it with another flour that can structurally support your cookie. For example, wholemeal or plain flour.

  • I wish the person who down voted you added a comment as to why they did. Your answer is in line with my (Internet) research. I have a local farmer I bought the red from, but I think he has other varieties. Do you have a suggestion that would work well with cookies? – Ann Addicks Apr 27 '16 at 16:28
  • Sorry but I can't really given suggestions on this as I don't have much experience in using different flours. However, you could try experimenting swapping out some flours in a recipe for other flours. Substituting might work as there is some structure left to the support the cookie. Also, this could work (emphasis on could) but you can try adding in some xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is usually used in gluten-free baking because it can replicate the structure provided by gluten. So in theory, it could provide the structure your cookies lack. – Hannah Song Apr 28 '16 at 7:03
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TL;DR: For cookies, use soft white wheat (or try mixing in spelt).

There are several types of modern wheat readily available for milling. The basic divisions are

  • Red or white
  • Soft or hard
  • Winter or spring

Red means that the bran literally has a slightly redder color to it, but it is also a little tougher, with a slightly stronger flavor, and generally more noticeable in the finished product. Unless you're specifically going for that rustic wholemeal sort of effect, choose white wheat.

Soft and hard refer to how hard the berry is, but is also strongly correlated with how much gluten you get — soft meaning there's more starch and less protein, and hard being more protein and less starch. Basically, if you're baking bread you want hard; if you're baking cookies, muffins, cakes, etc., you want soft.

Spring wheat is (usually) planted in the spring and harvested before autumn. Winter wheat is (usually) planted later, so that it can't be harvested before winter; it goes dormant, and is harvested once it finishes growing in the spring. (In warmer places like parts of California, spring wheat actually grows during the warm winter, before the desperately hot summer arrives. It's still spring wheat, though, because of its genetic makeup.) Winter wheat tends to have slightly lower protein content, though the main driver is soft vs. hard.

Of course, in addition to the modern varieties, you'll also find ancient varieties like spelt, emmer, khorasan (a.k.a. kamut), and einkorn. These have different flavor, and typically less gluten. For example, you might try milling 50% soft white wheat and 50% spelt for those cookies, and I bet you'd get a great result. That's not to mention rye, barley, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), which are gluten-containing grains closely related to wheat. And then there are other grains like oat, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, amaranth... (King Arthur Flour has a nice guide for this group here.)

All of this is basically saying that — even just among basic wheat varieties — there's a wide world of grains out there to try in your baking. Whether you buy them as flour, or mill them yourself, you'll really improve your skills if you start branching out by using new grains in your baking. But not all grains can be substituted for others. You need to think more, and maybe adapt recipes. Adjusting hydration levels is the first and most obvious thing. But sometimes you'll find that it helps to do things like adding some extra baking powder or adjusting the quantity of sugar to get your cookies just right.

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