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proth5

 


"Do or do not...there is no try." Yoda


 


And so it is finally time to actually make a "white flour" milling run. This is a project that I have been mulling over for some time - and it is not a small one.


 


Here are some specifics as to my milling setup.  I use a Diamant mill with steel burrs.   The mill is hand cranked.  For sifting, I use plastic classifiers from Legend, Inc.  I have #12 (screen openings of .07"), #30(.02") and #50 (.01").  I also have a #100 (.006") but have not been using it.  I use a Delmhorst G7 grain moisture meter to measure grain moisture.


 


The objective for this first "white flour" run was simply to get a generic "all purpose" white flour.  I do not currently have the equipment to measure ash content, and the method described by bwraith in his blog requires a 12 hour waiting period.  I can see how this would be useful, but at this time the project seems monumental enough.


 


The first step in the process is tempering.  I am hoping to produce enough flour to make a recipe of baguettes, so I started with 32 oz (Oh, me and my pound and ounces, but this is a low precision operation and they should be good enough) of hard white wheat berries.  To this I added 0.8 oz of water.  After 24 hours I took a moisture level measurement and found the grain to be at 12.7% moisture.  This is close enough to the desired 13% so the berries were left in the tightly sealed container for another 24 hours to continue the tempering process.


 


My target extraction level was 70%.  Some of the weight of the grain is lost in the process, so my goal was to obtain 20 oz of "white" flour.


 


My first pass through the mill was what I define as a "medium sized" cracked wheat.  This is a little finer than typical cracked wheat, but still more of a meal than a flour.  This pass was sifted through the #12 sieve which is part of my process to remove the bran and then through the #50 sieve (which is the sieve through which I normally sift my high extraction flour) to see how much "flour" resulted from the first pass.  On this first pass I obtained 1.5 oz of flour (from 32 oz of grain...)  Not much, just not much at all.


 


My second pass was a 'fine" cracked wheat.  This pass took all of the material that had not passed through the #12 sieve and milled it again.  Again I sifted it through both the #12 and the #50 sieve.  I obtained an additional 1.15 oz of white flour.


 


Since, frankly, I am just making this process up as I go along, I had to take a moment for quality thought.  I already have what I consider to be a successful process for obtaining my high extraction flour and my objective was to get as much bran out of the process before I started doing the finer passes.  So I switched to my "high extraction" process.  I did one more pass to "very fine" cracked wheat and sifted it through the #12 sieve.  This resulted in about 10 oz of "bran like" material left in the sieve.  This would be about a 70% extraction, however noticing that some "bran like" material had passed through the sieve and would be sifted out at finer siftings, this would not result in my target extraction rate.  So I put the material remaining in the sieve through the mill again at the same setting.  Sifting through the #12 sieve left 4.35 oz of material in the sieve.  This material was removed from the milling process.


 


I then sifted the remaining material through the #50 sieve to get 2.95 oz of flour.  Clearly I had to continue with finer grinding.


 


The next pass through the mill was at what I call "hippie whole wheat" coarseness.  This is starting to look like flour, but at a texture that bakes up into the doorstops we convinced ourselves were good bread a few decades ago.  This was sifted through the #30 and the #50 sieves.  From this pass I obtained an additional 2.95 oz of white flour.  There was more milling to do.  There was 5.25 oz of bran like material left in the #30 sieve.  This was removed from the milling process, making the total bran removed 9.6 oz - somewhat below my target, allowing for some more material to be removed in later siftings.


 


The next pass was to the fineness of coarse ground whole wheat.  Again it was sifted through the #30 and the #50 sieves.  I obtained an additional 4.6 oz of flour.


 


At this point I had obtained, in total, about half the amount of white flour that was my goal.  I needed to grind finer, but frankly at this point a small amount of bran was working its way through the mill and into my flour.  It was a very small amount, but it was there.  Oh well.


 


The next pass was essentially typical flour.  I grind finer, but this is very like commercial whole wheat.  This was sifted through the #50 sieve to obtain 4.05 oz of white flour.  The material remaining in the sieve was returned to the mill and put through at the same setting.  This was sifted through the #50 sieve to obtain an additional 3.95 oz of white flour.  All of the remaining material was returned to the mill.


 


At this point I put my mill on its finest setting.  Once again I sifted the output through the #50 sieve to get an additional amount of white flour of 2.5 oz.


 


That was it - I had my 20 oz of flour.  I returned what remained in the sifter to the mill and did an additional pass.  What went through the #50 sieve, however, was clearly loaded with bran and so was removed from the process.


 


All of this took about an hour.  Coming soon to an infomercial near you "Milling and Sifting Your Way to Fitness."


 


What were the results?  Unfortunately the combination of my snapshot camera and my photography skills result in unedifying pictures, so sorry, no pics.  I have 20oz of whitish flour.  It is clearly, but very lightly flecked with bran.  Compared side by side with King Arthur All Purpose flour, it is a bit more yellow in color and just a bit grittier, but not unpleasantly so.  The flour from the first couple of passes was distinctly greyer than the rest of the flour.  Here is our treasured "clear" flour perhaps, but at such a low volume that I don't think I could justify milling it.  I could put the results through the #100 sieve to attempt to get my "white" flour even whiter, but that would result in a much lower yield.  I may have to tolerate the flecks of bran.


 


Right now I have two paths I could take for the next batch: stay with this method and send the next lot off to the lab for some test results, or try another method.  The key, of course is to get the bran out before it gets ground too finely.  I am considering doing more passes at coarser settings, but the flour yield from those is just a bit discouraging.  I must remind myself that these burr mills are not roller mills and in general are not designed for milling white flours.  I can be terribly hard on myself.  Inspiration is welcome.


 


As for the baked results?  Now we wait.  Four weeks.  For while there is much ambiguity about aging whole wheat flours, there is none for white flours.  What I have is green flour and it needs to be aged prior to baking.  I'm not going to let my lack of patience mess with the results...


 


Happy Milling!

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proth5

I am not much of a photographer and well, I am never exactly "happy" with anything I bake. I can always outline the flaws or specific things that could stand some improvement.


But  I decided to show this week's bake - come what may - and here are the results:


Batch 1: Baguettes


I emphatically do not use the Bouabsa technique.  My primary reason is best kept to myself, but to put forth some other reasons, I don't have the timeline or the space to do the cold retarding. Also, it could be (and has been) argued that by pre-fermenting a portion of the flour in the levain build, that I achieve the benefits of the retarding and that the retarded final fermentation is redundant. I do an overnight levain and then bake the things the next day.  No commercial yeast and 65% hydration.  Here's one intact and one cut in half to show the crumb:


baguette


I seem to have slipped back in technique to getting less pronounced grigne than I have in the past, but although the photo does not show it well, the slashes did show small ears.  The slashing is uneven as is the shaping and I need to buckle down and get that straightened out.  I recently got a new blade holder and I think that I need to get used to it.  I really can't fault the crumb (or the taste.) This is nothing extraordinary - this is what I get every week.  Some would bake these more "boldly" but I prefer this coloring. A tartine with house made cultured butter and a good salame - that's good eating...


Batch 2: Fougasse


Since this is the time of year that I need to render lard, I always get a lot of cracklings and it seems a shame not to use them somehow.  So this week I made a fougasse with cracklings:


Fougasse


This is just a standard fougasse recipe made with a levain base - 68% hydration, 10% whole wheat flour with .8 oz of cracklings for a 1 pound fougasse.


Yes, I got a thin spot on the large cut.  Darn.  Usually I have some restraint with my bread eating, but I had to tear into this one.  It had a crackly surface and a tender interior lightly flavored from the fat and studded with little bits of piggy goodness.  Very nice.


Batch 3: Home Mill


And then there is the home milled whole wheat levain loaf:


Whole Wheat Levain


This is the most variable of my breads as I contend with variations in both the milling and bread making process.  This was made with hard white wheat milled the same day as the bake. This is a fairly typical loaf although it has spread out more than I would like and I think that it would benefit from a tighter shaping.  The loaf is made at 74% hydration and the crumb tends to vary at different spots on the loaf, although from my point of view there is nothing really wrong with the crumb.  This is my lunchtime sandwich loaf and I prefer the fillings not to drop through. The taste is...delicious.


All breads were baked on a stone with steam - some water in a pan on the floor of my oven and much water sprayed with a pressure sprayer on the stone.  After reading the Suas book's section on steaming I am ever more convinced that in my dry climate and the relatively low hydrations of my doughs that just retaining the moisture by covering my baking breads would not achieve the objectives.  Due respect to the people who use this method, but with my old oven (It will be replaced only when I find "the one.") and no more effort than it takes I'm sticking with steam. Record cold yesterday in the Mile High City - I didn't mind the oven having to preheat.


So, not a bad output for a day after I have finished my seasonal cooking (and shipping) and was determined to take it easy.


Hope you-all enjoy the photos and Happy Baking!

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proth5

Been falling behind on my posting.  During this long run to the solstice, even typing "Nice bread" is too much (and to so many, I say "Nice Bread!")


Here's where my energy has gone:


What I've been doing


The sparkly boxes without ribbons are caramels - over 2000 pieces hand cut and wrapped, the bags are home-made marshmallows, the boxes with ribbons are home grown and house made jams, jellies, pickles, and mustards, the tall shapes are herbed vinegars, and the stack of containers to the rear are full of a special family recipe cookie.  Of course there is the remains of last week's milling and baking.


The special cookies are known in our family only as "Grandma's Brown Cookies" and are one of those things that exist within a family context.  They are a strongly spiced molassas cookie and not to evryone's taste (you need to have been raised on them) they also require special small cookie cutters (passed down in the family) and have some measurements that require knowing which glass to use.  I like to think about that kind of thing in terms of our baking and cooking traditions.


So once I get this all shipped to the proper receipients, I can take a deep breath an lose myself in ABand P.....


Happy Baking!

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proth5

After many, many weeks of waiting it hit my doorstep yesterday.


I am engaged in other baking projects right now, but I had to take a look.


What already excites me: The vienoisserie section, that all recipes are in baker's percents, the sugar work, and the section on how to analyse a complex formula.


OK, there may be mistakes or things that are not to everyone's liking, but I am so anxious to get my other baking done and sit with this book that I can hardly stand it.


Woo Hoo!


Happy Baking

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proth5

Oh the controversy!  So I thought to myself, the recipe cited in some posts was from a "Best Worker of France."  Why not consult the bread book I bought last April with recipes from the MOFs in Boulangerie.

Sure enough, we find the formula, method, and pictures from M. Auzet himself.  Although he hails from Avignon and at the time of publication lived in Cavaillon, one can consider him just a "stone's throw" from Beaucaire.  His picture makes him seem like a right jolly old elf and he is an MOF - so I'm going to take his advice on this.

The recipe I will not repeat.  It is a fairly simple levain dough with 17% of the flour pre-fermented  in a stiff levain and a total hydration of 60%.  He adds  commercial yeast - which some of us would prefer not to add.

Although I understand the French, I do not have that peculiar gift that allows direct transation, so I will summarize.

Note the technique.  He is mixing the ingredients in a spiral mixer at first speed for 15 minutes (so, I'm thinking no stretch and fold here...).  The dough is not getting a true bulk ferment because of the long development in the mixer.  The dough is rested for 15 minutes.  It is then patted out with the hands into a rectangular form.  It then rests for 20 mins.  After that the ends are folded to the middle.  It is then flattened and folded by hands would fold croissant dough (for you Francophones "(comme pour faire un tour aux croissants)" - don't know if that could be any clearer...)  What is unclear is if the dough is folded in half, so that with the addition of the earlier folds it is a "tour double" or if it is folded in thirds in addition to the folds to the center in order to do a "tour simple" - my speculation is that it is folded in half to create the double turn. It is left to rest, covered for 30 minutes and then is rolled with a rolling pin to a rectangle 2.5 cm thick.

Then a slurry of 5:1 water to flour is used to moisten the top of the dough (but not too much) and the dough is left to rest for 10 mins.

The dough is cut lengthwise and one part stacked on the other.  It rests for 15 mins.

It is then cut in the way of a  "racle a Beaucaire"  (which roughly translates to a Beacaire scraper) but he assures us this just means to cut into loaves- one would assume, because the original rectangle was cut lengthwise that this is cross wise - but helas - he does not elaborate.  The loaves are placed on a floured couche still in a stacked position.  He cautions us to make the folds of the couche very high so the dough does not fall over.

The loaves proof for 3-4 hours.

His picture shows loaves that truly look like two narrow loaves that are stuck together.  The ends of the loaves are distinct and blunt - they show no taper.

He does go on and on about how the folding is what makes the bread and regrets mightily that it is so seldom baked.  He concludes by saying that it requires a baker not just a bread merchant to make this bread.

I'm trying my own version of this today, but perfectionist that I am always hesitatant to publish pictures unless I am happy with the loaf (and I never am...)

So, friends, this is what I find.  I cannot but believe the source is authentic.  That being said, the bread belongs to the baker (unless it is controlled by French law) and I am sure there are many excellent variants on this theme that are just as authentic and delicious (and that's what matters.)

The book from which I have cited is "20 Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, L'Equipe de France de Bouangerie, et Medailles D'Argent se Devoilent et Vous Offrent Leurs Recettes Choisies" published in 1994 - a book that is not really accessible to all, but which I treasure...

When will that ABandP arrive? Ah well.

Happy Baking!

 

 

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proth5

“The sun did not shine,

It was too wet to play…”                         From “The Cat in the Hat” Dr Seuss

Yes, a day of rain and record cold in the Mile High City and we all go nuts.  We aren’t accustomed to anything but sunshine.

 

So I decided to finally write up my two levain experiment.

 

The question that was innocently asked:  Why does my levain, with my less than precise maintenance routine still live, thrive, and reliably raise bread?  In theory, it should be dead.  But it is not.

 

BWraith had put forth the theory (and I tended to think it reasonable) that I might be raising a bunch of l. pontis which is typically found in culture with a low feeding ratio.  We also theorized that if I changed the feeding ratio, the levain would struggle a bit, but a transition to a different lactobacillus would occur.

 

So for the past few months I have been maintaining two levains.  One, my beloved Thing One, fed as usual.  Once a day – Thursday through Sunday, “some” of it is removed and it is fed with 4 ounces each of all purpose flour and water.  No exact feed ratio – just me eyeballing “some” based on- well, whatever it is I base this on.  Sunday afternoon to Thursday evening it is kept in a special refrigerator at 50F.  Thursday through Sunday it lives either on the counter in my kitchen, or during particularly hot days in my cool basement. (Yes, I know, once a day isn’t enough.  And yet, it is…)

 

Thing Two – created from Thing One – was fed at a 1:5:5 ratio over that period of months.  It never left Thing One’s side – so it lived under the same conditions and schedules.  I was as careful as I could be about cross contamination.

 

Would they be different in any way?

 

During the summer I still baked something each week (You gotta eat…).  I alternated between Thing One and Thing Two.  To be honest, I was unable to tell the difference in any of my baking.  Thing Two did not struggle or fail to double at any time.

 

But if I did any analysis, would they be different?

 

.2 oz of a ripe sample of each in a container showed me (if it is not clear in the picture) that they were practically identical.  Thing Two was, however a bit stiffer, probably reflecting the fact that the gluten had not degraded as much as that for Thing One – which seems reasonable.

From the bucket

 

Mixed with .4 oz of distilled water (so that a pH strip could be used) they each showed a pH of 3.5.  It had been theorized that the pH of Thing One should be lower – but no – they were identical.

Thing One pH

 

Thing Two pH

Each sample was mixed with .4 oz of all purpose flour and allowed to ripen for four hours.  Both rose nicely and well, I’ll be horn swoggled if I can tell the difference.  If I hadn’t labeled them, I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The Builds

 

So what have I learned?   Uh, nothing?  That the inner life of levain is a deep mystery?  Just how determined those guys are to live?  That I need to get out more?

 

I have been unable to find anyone willing to determine just which variety of lactobacillus is living in my levain tubs, but would welcome input from anyone who could help.  Or any insight (Bill…) at all.

 

I really don’t know.  I do know that a practiced hand and eye counts for something in this bread making business and I’ve been tending Thing One for years.  It could be that we just “get” each other.

 

Happy Baking!

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proth5

Lest anyone who reads my posts think I know what I'm doing, I've decided to post my latest adventure as an illustration to the contrary.

The story of how the tandoor got into my back yard is one for which the world is not prepared, but it is there, the weather is too hot to turn on the oven, and I thought to myself “Well, this is a good time to learn to make naan.”

The first step is getting the right tools.  After watching and watching the YouTube video of a chef making naan, I decided that the little tool seemed pretty handy.

Although it just looks like a wad of towels, it is actually a convex pad of compressed straw covered with a cloth.  It is firm enough so that (if you know what you are doing) you can get the naan dough to make good contact with the side of the tandoor.  It is pictured below:

Bread Pad 

Armed with the tool – the next step is to heat up the tandoor.  It took about two hours for my model (pictured below) to heat to the point where the walls were nearly 700F.

Not Pretty, but it gets the job done Fire in the hole

So it was time to cook the naan. 

I took about 4oz of dough and shaped it into thin disks and then draped them over the dough pad (sort of as per the video), gave them a quick spray of water (so they would stick better – hahahahahaha) and steeled myself to put my hand near a 700F tandoor entrance to stick the dough to the side.My first disk (of six)dropped promptly to the bottom to become a flaming dough ball.

Oh well.  I learned that you really need to apply some firm pressure on that tool.  Never mind the smell of burning feather as the hair was singed off my hand.

Finally disk three stuck.  But it also stuck to the side of the tandoor when it was done and came off in shreds.  Four was the turning point (or so I thought) and I moved on to five feeling like I had figured this thing out.  Four and five are featured in the pictures below.

One finally Stuck!

Looks almost good enough to eat

Two of six isn't bad... 

Number six showed me to be overconfident and slid off the dough pad without ever making contact with the tandoor wall.

Well, two out of six isn’t bad – and what bread I did get was eaten with relish.  Of course, failure never deters me – it just makes me more determined.  I’ll be back with a report when the whole thing has been perfected. In about a year or so...

Meanwhile my consolation prize is pictured below.  It has been a long while since I had real Tandoori food…

Consolation prize

Happy Baking!
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proth5

No wait, strike that – reverse it.

 

Summer is here and it’s too hot to fire up the oven which makes it a perfect time to take the electric griddle outside and make English muffins.

 

The problem, of course, is getting those great nooks and crannies.  My old formula and technique got me plenty of little holes in the muffins, but not those great nooks and crannies (well, the little holes caught the melting butter, but still, the drive for “just a little better” is strong.)

 

So I thought about both my formula and my technique.

 

I was using an adaptation of the King Arthur “English Tea Cakes” recipe which calls for beating the dough for 5 minutes in a mixer.  I thought about “Batter Whipped” bread and how beating the dough caused its fine texture.  Then I thought about baguettes.

 

Well, English – French, different, but in the end – all European.  So I thought I would adapt my baguette technique for my English Muffins.

 

I use King Arthur All Purpose flour.

Makes about 6 

The formula:

 

Levain Build

Starter    .65 oz (100% hydration)

Flour      .95 oz

Water     .95 oz

 

Let ripen overnight.

 

Final Mix

All of the levain build

Flour                9.25 oz

Salt                   .16 oz

Dry Milk         1.25 oz

Sugar                .55 oz

Vegetable oil    .55 oz

Water              9.25 oz

 

Mix to a loose batter.  Four times at 30 minute intervals, stir 30 strokes with a spoon or spatula.

 

Let rise until domed and bubbly.  Do not let it collapse.  This particular batch took about 3 hours at this phase.

 

Baked in greased muffing rings on a lightly greased griddle at 325F.  8-9 mins per side.

 

The results. 

(I'm no photographer - that's for sure...) 

Finally the nooks…

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proth5

Anyone old enough to remember those guys?

Poor Goofus could never do anything right and Gallant - well, he was just annoying.

Anyway, I just pulled the weekly baguettes from the oven and they reminded me of those guys. In the spirit of learning/teaching I'd like to use poor Goofus to illustrate something.

I've posted a picture here:  http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/GoofusandGallant.jpg

I'm not going to do a detailed critique of the numerous, numerous flaws in these baguettes (nor am I really asking for comment other on the topic - I am my own worst critic), but I will focus on their shapes as pulled from the oven.

Gallant - the one on the top- of the picture has some nice symmetry and in general a pleasing shape.

Poor old Goofus has a slash that didn't open well and on the right (your right as you look at the picture) is somewhat scraggly and mis-shapen.  Before I put them in the oven I could have predicted that fate.  How?

My hands, my dough, but on Goofus, I failed to remove sufficient flour from the dough prior to shaping and to completely clear the bench of flour (residual from the loaf and just got a tiny bit sloppy with clearing the bench - it's hot - the oven is at 500F - oh, excuses, excuses...).  When I did the final shaping on Goofus, I had the "ball bearing" effect of the flour - the dough would not roll properly - it slid around on the bench.  I worked at it to get an even shape (This was the only difference in the shaping.  Consistency may be the bugaboo of little minds, but it is what I do best.)but all was lost.  Even though it looked even as I laid it on the couche, it was destined to have a flaw.  Same with the left side.  The extra flour caused an improper seal and you can see a distinct spiral.  It looked ok as dough, but it was destined to bake poorly.  I pulled myself together to shape Gallant.

To avoid having to be sent back to "the place" - I will admit that I did a few things right.  I particularly like Gallant's grigne - which are not seen to best advantage in this shot.

So big problems from little mistakes grow... It pays to pay attention to the details.

Happy Baking!

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proth5

The tests results are in! (It takes so little to make me happy.)

 

This particular batch of wheat was tempered for 48 hours with 20% of water added by weight of the grain.

 

It was then ground as follows

 

1 – Coarse pass sifted through #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

2 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

3 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve removed from process.  This was about 20% of total weight

4 – Medium fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

5 – Fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

6 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve retuned to mill

7 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

8 – Very fine pass – results combined with the rest of the flour

 

This is a lot of passes and a lot of sifting and it take me about an hour and a half to do this for 2 pounds of wheat berries with my hand turned, steel buhr Diamant mill (brief tea breaks included.)  However, the multiple passes are actually easier to do than fewer more aggressive passes and the sifting steps decrease the amount of material that needs to be ground in each pass.  The resulting flour is fine and silky and bakes up pretty much the same every week.  I am milling hard white winter wheat.

 

The flour was stored for about a week before taking the samples.

 

I had a very small number of tests run – I still need to produce some bread each week, – so I selected those which seemed to be under my control.  Falling number seems to simply be high in these types of flour, and although I am adjusting ash when I extract material from the process, I haven’t been focusing on ash content (but that would have been my next test if I had enough flour.)

 

So the results are:

 

Moisture                      10.4%

Farinograph (14% MB)

            Peak (min)  7.00

            Tolerance (min)  9.00

            Absorption  68.6%

            M.T.I (BU)  25

Starch damage %   6.23

 

The moisture is low despite my addition of water in the tempering process.  This tells me a couple of things.  One, the Mile High City is dry.  Two, I need to get going on getting that moisture meter.

 

But the other numbers are within what is considered to be required for good bread making flour.  The starch damage is actually on the low side – probably reflecting my “many small passes” approach – but still will within range.  M.T. I. is also on the low end of the range and is not really troubling given how gently I mix my bread.

 

The bread has been bearing this out, but it is good to have the numbers.

 

So even with my low tech setup where I hand grind, hand sift, guesstimate moisture content and adjust grind by look and feel – a reasonable quantity of good quality flour can be produced on a regular basis.  My hands on process not only takes the place of a trip to the gym, but gives me some quality time to think about the stupendous journey of the grain or wheat as it goes from field to table.

 

Now if I can just find a lab willing to give me an analysis of the critters in my levain…

 

Happy Milling!

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