The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
proth5's picture

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!

Floydm's picture

Hey there. I am still here.

It has been a very busy spring. Among other things and as dstroy mentioned, we went to San Francisco for a week. I attended the Web 2.0 Conference while D and the kids checked out the city. It was interesting to hear talks about social networking and community building and think about what we've done right here and what I should work to improve. Overall, we are doing more right than wrong.

Work has been extremely busy as well. As has been much discussed here, grain prices are up worldwide, which makes life tough for humanitarian aid workers on tight budgets, so we are working very hard on the fundraising side to try to prevent us from having to cut back any of our programs. The economic downturn in the US doesn't help our fundraising any either.

We've also added a blog where we are tracking the impact of rising grain prices worldwide. Some folks might find it interesting. Yes, it is annoying for us at TFL that our raw material costs are up, but that is nothing compared to the economic disruption many people in the world are dealing with.

Baking? I've done some. Mostly the standards: blueberry muffins, honey whole wheat bread, sourdough miches like this one from last night:

a sourdough miche

My kids are big enough now that they don't take naps reliably. That used to make scheduling baking really simple: whatever we might have scheduled for the day, we could count on being around the house in the mid-afternoon while they dozed. Now it is up in the air. And, as much as I enjoy baking, given the option between having the flexibility to spend the afternoon hiking to a waterfall or out for a bike ride with the kids or needing to be home by 2 so I can shape my loaves, the flexible option is winning out (with positive results: we are having a wonderful time together, and I know there are not going to be many years that they are going to want to spend their weekends with their parents). I need to figure out some other baking routines that both allow me to try new breads and still spend my afternoons out playing with the kids.

bshuval's picture

After preparing for it all of last week, feeding my sourdough daily with mash to make it a Monica Spiller-type barm, I finally made "Whole Wheat Barm Bread 2008", from the recipe that Monica Spiller recently published.

The resulting bread is excellent, one of the best whole-wheat breads I've tasted. I will definitely make it again. I heartily recommend it. You can read more about my making of it here

az.hummer's picture

Hello, fellow bread enthusiasts.


I recently moved to Glendale, AZ.  Our family likes dark breads of all kinds...including multi-grain, rye and whole wheat. I have had no luck in finding Rye Flour at our local grocers.  The Whole Wheat flour is available, but in small 5 lb bags and is very expensive.  

Any suggestions where I could buy 25 or 50 lb bags of these fours in the Phoenix/ Glendale area?

 As you can see from my photo, I like baking specialty breads, like the traditional Russian Easter breads.  However now I am looking to bake some basic, spongy dark country breads with texture and a good crust.

Looking forward to your suggestions


May 3, 2008 

proth5's picture

Nature seems to have granted me an abundance of patience and in the past few weeks I have been undertaking experiments that seem destined to use it.


I have been wondering why my levain – which given the way I feed it should be dead by now – lives, thrives, and raises bread every week.  I have also been wondering about the results of soaking my home milled overnight prior to a mix and bake.


So for the past few weeks I have fed a separate levain at 1:5:5.  What I have noticed is that it seems to be “a little” more lively and certainly is not the soupy pool that my standard levain tends to be.  But otherwise, I can’t honestly say that anything else is different.  I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my feeding routine for my standard levain.  What I find is that (as with so many of us who do things by feel) I really do take a good look at it and make adjustments.  Looking a little listless?  I’ll take out more and feed it more.  “Spring” coming to the Rockies? (Those of you who live in the Rockies know why I put that in quotes.)  Feed it more often or put it in a cool place.  So maybe my routine was not quite so bad after all.


Anyway, the proof is in the baking.  Since this week I was soaking my home ground, I varied from my routine and made a stiff levain build with my new levain (60% hydration) and made my usual baguettes, plain whole wheat bread and pizza.  I stayed with my usual methods with the exception of soaking the whole wheat flour with added salt at room temperature overnight, and doing one less series of “strokes” on the whole wheat as I really felt it was coming together.


Pizza goes away too quickly for pictures.  But I do have shots of the others experiments (I’m no photographer – but I know y’all like pictures, so I try…) which I have posted here:


I will not do a complete critique of the many, many flaws in the baguette - but I did have a small slashing problem with the whole wheat which contributed to it not fully expanding. 


Conclusions?  Well, my bread is nothing if not consistent.  This is pretty much what I bake every week.  So, practiced eye or precise feeding ratios – they seem to be the same for me.  Soaking overnight?  Not doing much yet in my hands, but I will probably keep doing it just to see if some small adjustments will make a difference.


Meanwhile my patience stands me in good stead as I wait for the lab results on my home ground (I promised that I’d do this someday and my word is my bond.  Sometimes it takes time to get results, but that’s how bonds are…)


Happy Baking!

Galley Wench's picture
Galley Wench

Now that we're back on land, I'm really enjoying my BIG home galley!     The picture below is of Almost Ko-Knead, which is a huge improvement over the original NKB!   Baked this loaf in my Romertopf clay baker and it turned out perfect . . . well, except for the slashing!  Anyone have suggestions on how to 'slash' NKB?   

Galley Wench's Almost No-KneadGalley Wench's Almost No-Knead

MaryinHammondsport's picture

Our daughter was here for a visit this week, and together we pushed our boundaries with regard to baking.

First, we had home-made pizza using previously frozen dough from the boule recipe in AB in 5. This was new for her, but not for me.

We next mixed a new recipe of the same dough, so that she could shape a loaf, and see what a time saver it is. Another use of the same dough was pitas for lunch. A first for both of is, and easy to do. I’ll make those again.

She wanted to do bagels next, so she used Floyd’s recipe, to be found here. Excellent.

Lastly, we made a loaf in my new cast iron Dutch oven. I took a suggestion from holds99, and used the Rustic Bread recipe from KA.

This is the only one that I took a photo of; here’s how it looks. Great advice and good directions on how to get it into and out of the hot Dutch oven. Thanks!

Cast Iron Dutch Oven BouleCast Iron Dutch Oven Boule

All in all, a nice visit, and a lot of learning for both of us. She goes back to France (Alpes Maritimes) today, but I’ll keep experimenting with baking.


Thegreenbaker's picture

My old new love KAM, is cursed. Or so it seems.

He committed suicide 2 weeks ago, by walking himself off the kitchen bench whilst mixing dough.

I finally had him replaced and on the second use the height adjustment was somehoiw altered and just scraped the bowl so hard that the protective white covering of the dough hook scraped clean off.

The bowl seems alright. A few scratches, on the bottom, but seemed enough to mix up another batch of dough (as I threw out the now contaminated dough in the bowl) which the paddle attachment.

I think KAM is trying to leave me. :(


Perhaps the bread goddess/god of hearth and home does not want me making bread with a machine? Or perhaps I am just tooo bloody dopey to pay atention to whats going on.


What ever it is, I wont be making bread by mixer for quite a while again.





dmsnyder's picture

Janedo's Basic Bread

Janedo's Basic Bread

Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb

Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb

This is my third attempt at making the pain au levain that Jane calls her "basic bread." I think it's the best crust which is crunchier than my previous bakes. The crumb is less open than I got on my first attempt even though the dough was more slack. I think I actually over-mixed it.

Jane's recipe is posted here:

For this bake, I used a liquid levain fed with a high extraction flour mixed with 140 gms of white spelt flour and 400 gms of King Arthur Europian Artisan-style Flour.

I baked at 500F with steam for 7 minutes then 460F for a total of 30 minutes. I left the loaf in the turned off oven for an additional 7 minutes before cooling on a rack.

The taste is good with moderate sourness. It is very chewy. The crust is staying crunchy.

Bushturkey's picture

Sourdough baguettes - crumb

Sourdough baguettes - crumb

Sourdough (mini) baguettes

Sourdough (mini) baguettes

I made my own version of sourdough baguettes.

I made a liquid levain (125% hydration) from my white sourdough. I elaborated it into a poolish (100% hydration). The final dough had 70% white bread flour (but I increased the gluten to 14% with added gluten flour - I was worried, the 30 % rye might weaken my dough), 30% rye flour.

Because my preferment was around 24 hours old (but I'd given it two feedings at 12 hour intervals) by the time I mixed the final dough, I didn't know if the starch would've been depleted, so I added about 5g malt (to a total of 610g flour). I found some "light dry malt" at the brewing section of a local shop. The packet said "Malted Barley" as the ingredient. It didn't say it was roasted (it didn't say it was not roasted either), so I assumed it was diastatic malt.

I forgot to mention that I used the "french fold" method of mixing. Just a few seconds only! Then a few letter folds during bulk fermentation.


Any commentary from any bakers out there (on the way I went about making the baguettes)?


Subscribe to RSS - blogs