It’s all about what’s milled.
Scan a supermarket shelf and you’ll see flour varieties for all kinds of dishes and diets. There’s almond flour for the gluten-intolerant, self-rising flour for fluffy biscuits and large, nondescript bags of the all-purpose stuff you grew up with. These days, there’s a contender that makes flour even more confusing. Enter white whole-wheat flour, which sounds like a mixture of what you’re supposed to avoid and a healthier choice.
First though, the basics. Wheat berries, the collective term for wheat without the hull, are the building blocks of flour. Wheat berries contain the endosperm, germ, and bran and come in different colors and textures. Most flour comes from hard red wheat berries; all-purpose (white) flour is made with only the endosperm, so it has a lower nutritional value.
WATCH: Whole Grain vs. Multigrain vs. Whole Wheat
Whole-wheat flour is made from ground hard red wheat berries and uses every part; the wheat germ and bran give the flour a darker color and a higher nutritional worth. Additionally, red wheat berries have a nuttier flavor. White whole-wheat flour is prepared the same way as whole-wheat, but using hard white wheat berries, which have a sweeter flavor. In other words, it’s whole flour made from white wheat.
So, are whole-wheat and white whole-wheat flour interchangeable? White whole-wheat flour can be used in all recipes requiring whole-wheat flour—the final product will simply have a sweeter flavor. It can also be used in lieu of all-purpose flour in breads, cakes, and baked goods such as scones, gingerbread, and muffins. Just don’t expect the flour to yield the very same texture and flavor that you'd expect from a baked good made with classic AP flour.