WOOSTER, OHIO — Ongoing studies in Wooster are focusing on making cookies with a larger portion of whole grain flour instead of refined white flour.

Edward J. Souza, who directs wheat breeding for an international plant science company, conducted a recent study. He formerly was a research leader for the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and plant geneticist at Wooster. For the study, he worked in collaboration with Clay H. Sneller, an associate professor at The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center at Wooster, and Mary J. Guttieri, a research specialist and formerly with the center.

The A.R.S., The Ohio State University and Kraft Foods North America provided funding.

The researchers have found two tests may be used to obtain an in-the-laboratory indication of how good a new wheat variety may prove to be as a future source of whole grain cookie flour.

One procedure is called the sucrose SRC (solvent retention capacity) test. It indicates a flour’s ability to absorb and hold water. A low SRC score is better if manufacturers want cookies that are tender, not tough, Dr. Souza said.

In a milling softness equivalent test, quantity is a priority.

“The more flour produced in the first few passes through a milling device, the better the quality of the cookie,” he said.

The scientists determined how closely results from the two tests correlated with whole grain flour performance in a wire-cut cookie test, which is more expensive.

“We showed that breeders and food makers can rely on the SRC and softness tests for early screening,” Dr. Souza said. “Later, when they want to narrow their focus to only those plants that are uniquely superior sources of whole grain cookie dough flour, they can invest in the wire-cut cookie test.”
In other recent research, Dr. Souza and colleagues have analyzed how much dietary fiber is in whole grain soft wheat flours.

“When we first began looking at information about the dietary fiber content of these flours, we found very few measurements,” he said. “Some were based on surprisingly small numbers of samples. Others were based on hard wheats, not soft. And others were derived from old, outdated analytical procedures.”
They took kernels from 13 different wheat growing regions and tested the dietary fiber levels of the whole grain flours made from the kernels. The researchers also studied five different kinds of commercial whole grain soft wheat flours. The scientists determined soft wheat whole grain flours have on average 14.8 grams of dietary fiber in each 100 grams of flour.