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Taking Whole Grains Mainstream with Ultragrain
BakeMag.com, April 13, 2010
by By Master Baker Manfred Schmidtke, C.M.B., C.E.P.C., Lincoln Culinary Institute

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There are a few big advantages in formulating with Ultragrain from ConAgra Mills. First, Ultragrain is exceptional because it’s whole wheat flour that preserves the mild flavor, color and texture of refined flour while maintaining fiber, phytonutrients (including antioxidants) and the nutrition of 100% whole wheat. It’s whole grain nutrition with the taste, texture and appearance of white flour.

Using Ultragrain in my baked goods helps me raise the nutritional content without sacrificing the flavor—which is key. Another plus is that bakers can qualify their products for whole grain label claims on packaging, depending on the percentage of Ultragrain they use. Regardless, they’ll boost the nutrition of their products, courtesy of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that whole grain Ultragrain brings.

There are different Ultragrain blends available to help with the transition to whole grain. Healthy Choice All-Purpose Flour Blend T-1 with Ultragrain, made with 30% Ultragrain, blended with 70% premium enriched white flour, offers a 1:1 replacement for traditional all-purpose flour. For higher inclusion levels, there’s also a T-2 blend, which is made with 55% Ultragrain, with 45% enriched white flour.

I’ve used Ultragrain in almost all of my recipes. I recommend Ultragrain for every product where white flour is traditionally used, such as breads and other baked goods, pizzas, pastas, bars, snacks, pancakes, batters and breadings.

I recommend using Ultragrain Hard in breads, bagels, pizza doughs and tortillas. Ultragrain Soft is ideal for cakes, cookies, crackers and pastries. Ultragrain is also great in blends when the desired flavor and texture require less whole grain.

Recently, I tried Ultragrain in sourdough breads. In the past I’ve used regular whole wheat flours, and lower volume and less flavor have been the result. Using Ultragrain in my sourdoughs gives my bread a much more harmonious flavor throughout and with every bite.

Although in many ways it’s similar to refined flour, Ultragrain is whole grain flour, so there are some technical differences when working with the flour at higher inclusion levels. In terms of formulating products using whole grain flours, bakers may need to increase water or other moisture to compensate for the moisture absorbed by the additional fiber found in whole grain flours. This is easily done with simple conversion adjustments.

Bakers may also find that they need to add gluten or alter their dough conditioner profile to carry the additional fiber and maximize volume. They also need to be careful not to over mix, which can result in damage to the gluten structure of a dough as well, leading to lower volumes.

Some applications won’t need adjustments when working with Ultragrain. I have used Ultragrain as a one-to-one substitution for bread flour in many applications. Also, if preparing laminated doughs, such as croissant dough, I let the dough relax overnight, for two reasons. Allowing the dough to sit overnight relaxes the gluten protein in the dough and makes the rolling out a little easier. Also, the flavor will enhance when the dough is allowed to relax overnight.

All in all, the reason I like using Ultragrain so much in my production is because it doesn’t give me any trouble. I have used it as a substitution for regular flour. I have tried a ton of recipes with Ultragrain, and for the most part, the only ingredient I had to adjust was the amount of liquid added at higher altitude. That’s it.

One last trick of the trade is to mix yeast doughs at a lower speed. This avoids the breakdown of gluten strands and in turn lowers the volume of the product.

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