I've made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Good to the Grain many times with King Arthur Flour'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.

  • 2
    I seem to recall something about aging freshly milled flour before use, but I'm not sure if that applies here.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 11, 2016 at 18:59
  • I can try that later in the week and check back in here for any other suggestions too. Thanks. Apr 12, 2016 at 11:48
  • 2
    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, 2016 at 11:49
  • 3
    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, 2016 at 18:27
  • 1
    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, 2016 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


TL;DR: For cookies, use soft white wheat (or try mixing in spelt). And be aware that you may need to tweak some quantities of things like oil, baking powder, and sugar when you use different flours.

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 slightly different flavor, and typically less gluten. The idea is that humans have bred wheat for millenia, starting from einkorn, to increase the gluten to provide more structure in their bread. But all that structure that's so important for bread is too much for more delicate baked goods like cakes, cookies, pancakes, etc. So you want to use one of the lower-gluten varieties for those. 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.

All of these varieties still have bran, which is usually sifted out of all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cake flour, etc. When you use whole-grain flour (or mill it yourself and don't sift it), that bran tends to interrupt the formation of the gluten network, giving your baked goods a bit less structure — though maybe grittier, and possibly tougher or more bitter if you don't adjust your recipe.

That's not to mention rye, barley, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), which are the other gluten-containing grains. And then there are completely different 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.


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? Apr 27, 2016 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. Apr 28, 2016 at 7:03

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