Tips & FAQs

What do you mean by Heritage Baking?

We mean baking like it was before the industrialization of food. This means not only rejecting white flour and industrial milling, but also rejecting modern wheat itself (it's been so genetically tweaked in the last 40 years that it no longer digests properly and is making people sick). It means baking with organic heritage grains, freshly stone ground, whole and coarse — the flour your great-great-grandmother would recognize. It also means using sane amounts of sugar, and only wholesome whole food ingredients. Want to learn more? Get the full story

Are your mixes gluten-free?

No, but they are free of modern wheat. Many people with wheat intolerances find that our products work for them. Our oatmeal cookies have no wheat of any kind in them, so they have no gluten, however our facility is not gluten-free so there will be slight traces.

Are they easy to make?

Not just easy, but forgiving—there's really no need for critical measuring. Just toss your four wet ingredients in a bowl and mix lightly, then add the bag of mix. A basic batter takes just 3 or 4 minutes, with just one bowl, a whisk and a spatula.

Can I substitute for the eggs? the butter? the yogurt?

Yep. You can use your favourite egg substitute (ours is ground flax); you can swap your favourite oil for the butter (try coconut or all olive oil). If you want to switch out the yogurt, no problem, use whatever sounds appealing to you—just keep in mind the baking soda in the mix needs an acid to react with. Apple sauce is good vegan substitute as it is acidic itself, or add a little lemon in addition to whatever you replaced the yogurt with.

Can I add stuff in?

Of course! GRAINSTORM mixes are designed as bases for all kinds of great recipes. We have a bunch online or you can make your own. Just add up to two cups of whatever you like. Remember that if you add a lot of moisture and/or volume, you'll need to bake them longer.

Can I reduce the fat in the recipe?

Sure, you can use non-fat yogurt or less butter or oil. Just keep in mind that a low-fat version will be dryer, stale faster and not be as sustaining as a healthy snack. Good fats are good.

Are your mixes organic?

Yes, certified by Pro-Cert for Canada and the US.

How long does a bag keep? Do I need to keep it in the fridge?

Bags should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place—no need for refrigeration. Well-stored bags will be fine many months passed the "Enjoy By" date with no worries.

Where do you get your grains?

We buy some locally, others need to come from the prairies. All of it is Canadian.

Are your mixes vegan?

Our mixes are vegan however our standard preparation calls for eggs and dairy. We have alternative vegan preparation methods online, or you can use your own preferred substitutions. It all works well.

What is Red Fife wheat?

Red Fife is a heritage hard spring wheat native to southern Ontario and one of the grandfathers of modern wheat. Cultivated since the mid-19th century, it has been prized for superior taste and baking performance. It is currently (and deservedly) enjoying a revival among Ontario organic farmers and artisan bakers across the continent.

What is Kamut?

Kamut (pronounced ku-moot) is an ancient wheat grain that is enjoying a revival. While modern wheat has been genetically tweaked over the years to maximize production, kamut remains much as it was thousands of years ago. It’s high in protein and rich in vitamins and essential amino acids. We like it for its unique nutty taste, golden colour and texture. Many people who are sensitive to regular wheat find they can tolerate kamut.

What is Spelt?

Yet another ancient grain enjoying a revival, spelt was originally native to the Middle East and was used by the Greeks and Romans. Like Kamut, it is a popular alternative for people with wheat sensitivities.

What are Oat Groats?

The groat is the name for the whole oat kernel once the outer husk has been removed. Oats were once considered strictly horse feed, but now we know they are one of the healthiest grains around, with over 17% protein, lots of Omega-3 fatty acids and valuable micro nutrients. We cold-roll our own oat groats as we need them for superior flavour and nutrition.

Do you use sugar in your mixes? What kind?

In a word, yes. However, we keep it as moderate and healthy as possible. Our fresh-ground grains taste so good we can use 50-70% less sugar than typical. And the sugar we do use is the very best: organic evaporated cane juices.

Storage

Storing sealed bags

Store the bags in a cool, dry, dark place (the average pantry is fine). Our 500g bags use a sophisticated 4-part high-barrier package that will keep the product fresh for AT LEAST a year. The "Enjoy by" date on the back is a guideline, but don't worry if your bag goes a few months beyond—the product will not spoil and you may or may not notice a degradation in quality at that point.

Storing open bags

GRAINSTORM mixes are designed to be used in one batch, but you can save unused mix in an airtight bag in the freezer for a couple of weeks easily.

One of my bags has gone soft? Is it still good?

The softness indicates a microscopic leak in the bag caused by rough handling during shipping. Our larger foodservice bags are particularly susceptible. This is not harmful as the product will not spoil, however, the freshness quality on this bag will degrade faster as a small amount of air is getting in. You can compensate for this by sticking it in the freezer which will dramatically slow any oxidization effect. It will still taste great!

IMPORTANT: While soft bags are OK, puffed up bags should be discarded.

Freezing & reheating

We designed them as single use to take maximum advantage of the fresh-ground grain. If you want to make a partial batch, store the remaining mix tightly sealed in the freezer for up to 3-4 weeks, no problem. We find however, that once we're baking, it's more convenient to make a full batch and freeze the finished product (see below). They reheat beautifully, and you'll have nice healthy items on hand for those busy mornings or to grab for your lunch bag.

GRAINSTORM baking tends to stale faster than regular commercial baking; it also will more easily host moulds. WE highly recommend that you immediately freeze whatever you aren’t going to eat within 24 hours. We like to use resealable freezer bags (push as much air out as possible when closing) and use it up within 6-8 weeks of going into the freezer. We always have some frozen pancakes in our freezer for our boys on those busy mornings!

GRAINSTORM mixes are designed to be used in one batch, but you can save unused mix in an airtight bag in the freezer for a couple of weeks easily.

Improvising & Substitution

Can I reduce the fat content when baking your product?

Our base recipes have been carefully designed and tested to balance taste, nutrition, and baking performance at what we believe is optimum levels; but you may want your product richer or leaner, depending on your tastes and diet.

Here’s what you need to know: less fat will make your end result dryer and it will stale faster too; too much fat and the result will be overly greasy. As a guideline, it would be a good idea not to increase or decrease butter/oil content by more than 30% either way. Also, keep in mind, you are increasing or decreasing the fat content significantly by using lower or higher fat yogurt (We recommend 3%).

An editorial comment: For nearly 40 years now, we all have been taught to avoid fats whenever possible. We feel compelled to say that, in our opinion, despite this cultural conditioning, moderate amount of natural "good" fat is a very good thing.

Can I substitute a "healthy" oil for the butter?

We follow a whole food philosophy that says natural, traditional foods are preferable to modern processed foods. But if you would rather not use butter, you don’t have to! The character of the end product will be changed slightly by the flavour and texture of substitutions. Here are some options:

  • use all olive oil (this works surprisingly well, and is the healthiest choice in our opinion; although the flavour can get a little earthy for some; especially in the cookies)
  • sunflower oil, almond oil are both interesting, healthy choices canola oil will work fine in the taste department although we don’t love it for health reasons—it’s too highly processed
  • prepared margarines should work fine although, again, we’re not fans of this highly processed food

When substituting fats, keep this rule in mind: oils are a little denser than butter or margarine. So use 10-15% less oil than you would solid fat like butter.

Pro Baking Tips

One of the great things about GRAINSTORM baking is how easy, fast and foolproof it is. Even still, many of us are not frequent bakers and knowing and following simple baking best practices will ensure you are getting the best results.

  • preheat your oven thoroughly—flip it on a good 30 minutes before you start
  • use convection if you have it—you'll get a better rise, more even baking and nicer browning; don't adjust temperature down but expect cooking times a few minutes shorter
  • use good quality bakeware for best browning and even results
  • bake by weight—this is how pro bakers and european households do it; baking by volume is fussy, messy and much less accurate by comparison
  • set a timer—one of the key tricks to consistent results is proper baking time, so use a timer and note your results for next time so you can adjust. Don't leave it to your intuition to judge when it is done (or risk getting busy and forgetting); take the scientific approach for no-worry results every time
  • let your baking cool—in the pan at first, but remove to a cooling rack after a few minutes to avoid sticking and mushy bottoms

Making great Muffins & Loaves

Tips

  • add other items like fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds etc. to the wet mix BEFORE you add the grain (this avoids over-mixing)
  • DO NOT OVER-MIX! Once you add the grain mix, just fold gently, as little as possible. We recommend by hand with a spatula, but if you are using a mixer, be very gentle and short. Over-mixing will shorten your rise and make the product tough.
  • DO NOT OVER-BAKE. The robust texture of the product is most appealing when moist. Over-baking will dry out your muffins or loaves in a more noticeable way than with conventional white flour baked goods.
  • Shallow loaves work better than deep loaves. That's why we recommend on our package to bake one batch into two shallow loaves rather than one deep one—you'll get a better rise from the heavy rustic grains this way

Adjusting cooking time and temperatures

Cooking time and temperature depend on two main variables: size and fullness of the baking pan and moisture content of the batter.

Package directions for baking times are good starting points. But you need to adapt to your recipe and your oven. For instance, if you have added a lot of extra fresh ingredients (like shredded apples, say) this adds to the baking time in two ways: first, you have added volume to the recipe and if you make the same number of muffins, each one will be larger and require more baking time. Second, you have increased the moisture content of the recipe which will add to the baking time as well. As a rule, the farther the distance to the centre of the product, the longer it needs to cook and the lower the temperature needs to be to keep the product from overcooking or even burning on the outside. Here are a few ballpark settings to get you started.

  • bundt pan: 350°F for 40-45 minutes
  • two loaf pans, each half full: 375°F for 30-35 minutes
  • single loaf pan, quite full: 350°F for 55-60 minutes
  • mini-loaves: 400°F for 20-25 minutes

Judging doneness

The most reliable way to judge doneness is by feel of the product. When touched lightly, the indent caused by your finger should spring back. If an indent remains, you need a bit more time. Keep in mind that leaving your baking in the oven too far past this done point will create an overly dry product.

Muffin & Loaf Troubleshooting

Not rising enough

GRAINSTORM baking does not rise in the same way as white flour as the grain is much heavier and coarser. However you should expect a decent rise and a pleasing rustic crumb. Muffins tend to rise a little better than loaves. Poor rise can be caused by:

  • over-mixing
  • oven not fully pre-heated
  • opening oven door while baking
  • under-baking
  • oven too cold
  • too much moisture in recipe (i.e. fresh fruit or liquids)
  • substituting something for yogurt that does not react with baking soda

Collapsing in the centre

The heavy weight of GRAINSTORM batter can cause large loaves in particular to sag in the center when cooling. This is most likely to happen when there is lots of extra ingredients, if the loaf pan is over-full or if there are other rising issues at work as well. A little sag can be normal, but, again, you should expect a nice crumb. If the sag is excessive, run through the checklist above and also try baking smaller loaves and/or putting less fresh ingredients in.

End product is dry

The most common cause of this is over-baking. See above for adjusting time and temperature and judging doneness. The other common cause of dryness is not enough moisture in your batter. When adjusting base recipes, be sure you keep the moisture content of your batter within a reasonable range of base formula. Another cause is reducing the fat content of the recipe too low. 

Sticking to pan

There are three main causes of this:

  • letting the finished product cool completely in the pan instead of removing to cooling rack half way through
  • poor quality or conventional bakeware that is not well greased (only the best silicon or non-stick bakeware can do without greasing)
  • fat content cut too low in recipe

Making great Cookies and Bars

Tips

  • add other items like fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds etc. to the wet mix BEFORE you add the grain (this avoids over-mixing)
  • DO NOT OVER-MIX! This is not as critical with cookies as with muffins, but still good practice for the best crumb. Once you add the grain mix, just fold gently, as little as possible. We recommend by hand with a spatula, but if you are using a mixer, be very gentle and short.
  • preparing batter according to instructions will yield a loose batter which will stiffen up as it sits and the raw oats absorb the fats. We recommend a minimum of 15 minutes, but an hour is better. Overnight is even better!
  • cookies will spread in the oven, so don’t make them too big; we recommend a generous teaspoon per cookie, twelve to a sheet
  • a good quality non-stick cookie sheet will not require greasing; untreated or older baking sheets should be rubbed with just a thin coating of butter; we like silicon cookie sheet pads
  • for best texture and to avoid sticking, remove to cooling rack after 3-4 minutes

Controlling cookie texture

By adjusting fat content and baking time, you can produce either a soft, crispy or chewy cookie.

  • thin and chewy: follow the recipe on the package and do not over-bake
  • thin and crispy: add a little extra fat and cook until well-done
  • thick and soft: substitute milk for olive oil on original instructions, bake larger

Making great Pancakes & Waffles

Tips

  • add other items like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, etc. to the wet mix BEFORE you add the grain (this avoids over-mixing)
  • DO NOT OVER-MIX! Once you add the grain mix, just fold gently, as little as possible. We recommend by hand with a spatula, but if you are using a mixer, be very gentle and short. Over-mixing will shorten your rise and make the product tough.
  • batter will be thick; when you ladle onto griddle, spread it out in a circular motion to thin out the pancake (unless you like them super-thick, which is also kind of fun)
  • we like to use a traditional cast-iron frying pan that is well-seasoned; be sure to let it pre-heat thoroughly on a medium heat (if a little butter starts to burn in the pan quickly it is too hot); a non-stick frying pan or griddle works well also

Usage ideas

  • pancake mix does great with savory preparations too; try things like onion, zucchini, peppers, scallion, potato, etc; serve with yogurt or even sour cream
  • secret tip: you can make muffins with our pancake mix; there is very little sugar so you can use it as a base for savory muffin recipes
  • be sure to make the entire batch and keep some in the freezer; they make a great quick weekday breakfast and heat up nicely in the toaster or toaster oven