If you are wondering about the difference between almond flour vs. whole wheat flour, I have all the answers you will need. While both of these flours have their place in baking, they could hardly be any more different. They are different in origin, uses, flavor, etc. Keep reading and I will explain.
What is almond flour?
Almond flour is made from blanched, ground whole almonds. You make it by boiling it to remove the almond skins. They are then ground and sifted into fine powder.
Also, almond flour is a naturally gluten-free flour. If you have celiac disease, be sure to check the label on the flour to ensure it is gluten-free and not processed in an area or facility with gluten.
Almond flour IS NOT an almond meal, however, so keep this in mind. Almond meal has a much coarser texture than flour, which is finer. The meal can either be made with blanched almonds or regular.
It is considered one of the alternative flours that are enjoying its time in the sun recently as it has become very popular not only for gluten-free diets but also for those on a paleo diet and a low-carb diet as well. Because of its popularity, it is very easy to find in almost all grocery stores.
It is nut flour and has a delicious nutty flavor. I love using it in my Linzer cookies, which are always a hit no matter who I make them for.
What is whole wheat flour?
Whole wheat flour or wholemeal flour is made from milling whole wheat kernels. Having used whole wheat flour extensively in culinary school and in my personal baking, I have gained a great working knowledge of this flour.
Wheat varieties are one of the oldest crops that we know and it has even been traced back to Ice Age!
Whole wheat flour is loaded with nutritional value and after years and years of bad press, it is finally gaining in popularity.
I use whole wheat flour in almost all of my baked goods. It is a healthy way to add extra nutrients, fiber, and protein to baked goods, especially those made just with white flour. I think it is such a great substitute for all-purpose flour.
Bob's Red Mill is a great resource for whole grain flour and almond flour.
Listed below are some of my favorite recipes.
- Whole wheat banana bread
- Whole wheat cranberry pecan bread
- Spelt brownies
- Salted chocolate chip rye cookies
- Einkorn cornbread
There are many types of whole wheat flour- rye flour, spelt, einkorn, kamut, etc. The type of flour depends on the kernel it is milled from. Also, depending on how it is milled, it can have a coarser texture or a more fine texture. Sometimes it is also sifted to produce a finer texture as well.
Almond flour vs. whole wheat flour
While there are health benefits to both, they could not be more different!
There are some major differences between the 2, so let's cover those first. Grain-free flours are not anything like whole-grain flours.
Almond flour is made from almonds, while whole wheat flour is made from wheat kernels.
This makes how they bake, taste, and hold up very different from each other. I have read many sites that say almond flour can be substituted for regular flour with a 1:1 ratio, or 1 cup of almond flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour. While this can be true for some recipes, know this is certainly not true for all recipes! It has less starch than all-purpose flour, which means you may need extra eggs to get the baked goods to bind together. It also does not have the proteins that regular flour does to develop gluten.
The gluten in whole wheat flour is what will make your dough stretchy if you are making bread and rolls. The kneading develops the glutenin and gliadin.
I personally think it is a good idea to use almond flour-specific recipes while you are learning how it works. The same is true with whole wheat flour. It is best to stick to trusted recipes when you are first learning.
Be aware the shelf life of almond flour is pretty short. Especially compared to other types of flour. So, keep an eye on the expiration date.
How to make your own almond flour
Did you know you can make your own almond flour? Here is an article all about it, but let me give you a quick rundown. Start with blanched almonds and a food processor or blender. Add the almonds to the food processor and blend until you have powdery flour. Keep an eye on it though, you don't want to make almond butter instead!
Almond flour recipes
As I noted above, it is important to start with trusted recipes, like these ones:
- Almond flour pancakes
- Almond flour muffins
- Chocolate chip cookies with almond flour
- Pizza crust made with almond flour
Other examples of wheat-free flour
Almond flour isn't the only gluten-free flour out there, but it is one of the most popular. Oat flour, cassava flour, tapioca flour, chickpea flour, quinoa flour, rice flour, and brown rice flour are other examples. We will save those for another discussion on another day.
Notes for using whole-grain flour
- If you are not used to using whole wheat flour, there are a few things to note. While the nutritional benefits of whole wheat flour are far above refined flour, it can be a little tricky to learn to use.
- Make sure you are using the right flour for the right job. Just like with refined flours- all-purpose, cake, and bread flour, they all have different protein levels, which means they act differently when they are baked. For instance, soft wheat (whole wheat pastry flour) is a low-protein flour and I love to use it in my cookies, cakes, and muffins. My cranberry orange muffins are one of my favorite recipes for using whole wheat pastry flour. This keeps them tender and delicious. Much like you would expect from cake flour or all-purpose flour. It is a fine flour that I love.
- There is a big difference between using refined flour and whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture. Because of this, most recipes call for adding an extra amount of liquid, which I do, but in a very small amount. I believe what is even more important, is NOT TO OVERBAKE. This will dry out your baked goods faster than anything!
- Another trick is to be sure you don't overmix when using whole-grain flour. While this isn't as important in yeast or sourdough bread, you need to develop the gluten, after all, it is really important when you are making muffins, cookies, and cakes. They don't need the structure bread needs, you want them tender.
As noted above, it is not the best practice to substitute almond flour for whole wheat flour. Learn both flours and how they work, they begin making substitutions. Almond flour is so different from whole wheat flour, be mindful when making changes.
Well, it is a higher-fat flour, so baked goods will feel denser, and more might even seem greasy. Almond flour is great in some baked goods, but not all! Remember to choose recipes you trust.
Almond flour is high in Omega 6, so be mindful about consuming too much. Check out this article for more info.