Whole grains continue to gain traction among consumers. As people become more concerned with nutrition, and whole wheat formulations become more palatable, consumers’ interest in whole grains has gone further than just wheat to include other grains. Now, sprouted grains add a new layer to the whole grain conversation.

To zero in on these three consumer interests — whole grains, sprouted grains and whole wheat — Ardent Mills began developing a product that could deliver on all points. The company launched its answer, Sprouted White Spring Whole Wheat Flour.

“Our goal at the outset was to deliver a flour that matched the AACCI definition for a whole grain and that still maintained baking performance,” said Don Trouba, director of marketing, Ardent Mills.

Preparation of this flour starts with steeping kernels of a variety of white spring wheat for a precise amount of time at a specific temperature. During steeping, the wheat kernels germinate, or sprout. According to AACCI’s definition of sprouted grain, the sprout growth cannot exceed kernel length.

Roasting halts germination. The sprouted kernels are then milled into a whole wheat flour that has improved baking performance and offers a taste superior to its non-sprouted counterparts. The flour can replace conventional white or whole wheat flour in most applications including breads, tortillas, bagels, buns, quick breads, pizza crusts, crackers and snack or cereal bars.

“Because we started out with the goal of milling whole wheat flour that maintained baking performance, the end result was a convenient ingredient that can be used anywhere traditional whole wheat flour is used,” Mr. Trouba explained. “In fact, in some applications, it can reduce the need for other ingredients such as vital wheat gluten.”

When compared with conventional whole grain flours, Ardent Mills’ sprouted white spring whole wheat flour also performed better in baking tests such as loaf volume, proof times and dough stability. Whole wheat breads baked with the sprouted flour showed up to 12% greater loaf volume vs. non-sprouted, and dough stability increased by 56%. Dough stability, measured in minutes, determines how much abuse a dough can tolerate during production. In the case of Ardent Mills’ sprouted white spring whole wheat flour, dough stability increased from 6.7 to 11.7 minutes.

Due to the increased levels of enzymes in sprouted flour, proof times decreased by 10%. These enzymes break down starch into simple and complex sugars that nourish the yeast and enable it to produce more leavening gas. Not only does the yeast produce more gas, but the dough also retains more gas, resulting in shorter proof times.

On top of improved baking performance, this sprouted wheat flour also addressed taste concerns that often accompany whole wheat products. A study conducted by Ardent Mills showed that consumers were more likely to enjoy whole wheat flour when bitterness was reduced and sweetness was elevated. Sprouted white spring whole wheat flour delivered on those two characteristics. “Our taste tests showed the finished product to be sweeter and less bitter than its non-sprouted whole wheat counterpart,” Mr. Trouba said. 

By crossing three health-and-wellness trends — whole grains, whole wheat and sprouted grains — and providing better baking performance and taste, Ardent Mills’ sprouted white spring whole wheat flour delivers benefits for both bakers and consumers.