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Fun with milling and sifting

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varda's picture
varda

Fun with milling and sifting

I have been doing multiple bakes with home-milled sifted flour and it's nothing if not a learning experience.    My initial attempt at tempering was a fiasco.   All I could think of when I heard the word tempering was that somehow the wheat berries must be heated to very high temperatures to strengthen them.   Only a few seconds of thought though, is all it takes to realize that that is ridiculous.   But I was still surprised to learn that tempering when it comes to wheat means letting it absorb enough water to achieve a small measure of malting, and reach a desirable level of moisture.   

Easier said than done.   I tried heating a sample of berries at low temperature for several hours to see what their moisture content was.   See the strategy described by Michael here.  Then I added the requisite amount of water to the berries I intended to bake with and stored in a closed container for 2 days while the berries absorbed the moisture, shaking the container whenever I passed by.    I knew that I needed to be careful not to use overly moist berries in my Komo mill.    Fortunately the owners manual gives a handy rule of thumb.   Smash a berry with a spoon on the counter.   If it cracks with a nice snap, it's dry enough.   If it just kind of smashes, it's too wet.   Unfortunately after it seemed that the berries were dry, they smashed.   I had to dry them out for a whole day to get them to crack again.    When they got back into a crackable state, they had lost all the water weight that I'd put into them.   Furthermore the bread I made with these tempered and redried berries was flavorless.   

So presumably my berries are moist enough as it is, and don't need water added.   This still leaves the question of whether I'll get good enough bran separation during milling without going through the tempering step.    But for now at least I've put tempering on hold.  

For my next few bakes, I tried a milling and sifting approach as follows.   Mill berries coarsely.   Sift.   (I used a roughly #24 strainer - that is 24 holes per inch.)   Remill what is caught by the sifter at medium coarse, and sift again.   Remill the leavings again at medium fine and sift again.   Remill the leavings again at fine and sift again.   Stop.   The flour and bran in the picture above resulted from this approach.   While the bread I baked with this approach was a lot tastier than the one with the mis-tempered flour, I still felt that a lot was left to be desired.   

Today, I went out and got more sifting ammunition.   A roughly #30 strainer, and a roughly #40 splatter screen.    I also changed my approach to milling and sifting.    In addition to remilling the leavings and resifting, I decided to progressively sift the flour.     So I milled the berries at medium, then sifted in the #24 strainer and set aside the leavings.    Then sifted the flour in the #30 strainer and set aside the leavings.   Then sifted the flour in the #40 strainer and mixed all the leavings from the three sifts together and remilled at medium.   Then went through the 3 siftings again of the remilled material and added to the flour.  

The flour I got from this process was lighter and silkier than the other approach.    The bad news is that I started with 350g of berries and got only 170g of flour, a less than 50% extraction rate.    That meant that to get a full bake, I had to add a lot of other flour, which I did.     So the flour from the Upinngil wheat berries ended up at a quarter of total flour.    To throw yet another wild card into the bake, I hadn't prepared starter in advance, but I had some leftover rye starter from a bake a few days ago in the refrigerator, and I decided to use as is.   However, not knowing how potent it was I threw in some instant yeast.   

Of course any bread I got out of this was just in the interests of science (aka hacking around with milling and sifting.)   And here is what I got.   Mild and pleasant, but just another step along the way toward something or other.  

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

 
      

Whole Rye

 

146

146

23%

 

Sifted Upinngil

171

 

171

26%

 

KA Bread Flour

329

 

329

51%

 

Water

352

119

471

73%

 

Salt

14

 

14

2.2%

 

Yeast

8

 

8

1.2%

 

Starter

265

    
   

1139

  
      

Grind 350g hard red wheat berries at medium

  

Sift in #24 sifter.   Sift resulting flour in #30 sifter.

  

Sift resulting flour in #40 sifter.

   

Regrind all the leavings at medium.

   

Redo the three part sift.   This left me with 170g silky

 

golden brown flour. 

    
      
      

Mix all ingredients in mixer.   When all ingredients incorporated mix at speed 2 for 20 minutes. 

 

BF 1.5 hours until dough is double.  

 

Cut and preshape.   Rest 15 minutes.

  

Shape into batards.  Proof 1 hour.   Coat with bran/semolina mix.

Slash and bake at 450 F with steam for 20 minutes, without for 25 minutes

 
      

Addendum:   Andy's recent post about bolted wheat flour from an operating watermill, led me straight to google to look up bolting.   Well bolting is sifting, but it has an interesting history as I found in this article -  http://www.angelfire.com/journal/millbuilder/boulting.html   There is a lot of interesting stuff in this article but one of the things that struck me is that much of sifting has been done with cloth rather than a wire mesh.    Which leads me to wonder if that would be a good strategy for the home miller.   Would a nylon or silk stocking work?    Has anyone tried it?   

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

I'm not a milling expert.   But bolting is achieved using silk or nylon screens which get increasingly finer in gauge as the process progresses.   Coarse gauge takes off the bran. A finer gauge for the semolina, and finer still for the middlings.   So really, the answer has to be how fine is the gauge of nylon or silk in the stockings used.

But it is a good idea in principle as bolting requires passing the flour along a tube covered by a screen.   No reason why a stocking could not be used in this way, is there!

Best wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

all the encouragement I need.   I'm sure you'll be hearing more (than you want to) about this over time.    Thank you.  -Varda

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Nice shiny crumb on that loaf!  The added texture from using bran to coat the crust is very appealing, too.  I'm having fun following your projects with the new mill, I especialy liked finding out about local MA wheat berries, and am now looking forward to seeing what you come up with to use as bolters :)

varda's picture
varda

is that it's going to be messy.    Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Though I will probably never be into milling my own flours.  Unless someone grows a wheat field in my neck of the woods.  

It is very interesting reading your journey into milling.  What a great project you have taken on...I'm sure it will be very helpful for those who are also new at milling.  Keep up the great work Varda and happy milling.

Sylvia   

varda's picture
varda

I'm guessing that local wheat is not in your future unless you are willing to leave paradise and go east.     So far, so fun.   Thanks for the encouragement.    -Varda

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

The milling bug has certainly caught you Varda :) ... How much mess have you been creating?

I have been experimenting with different approaches to milling ... yep, still not entirely happy :) I think that's part of the joy for me ... there is so much variety available in the process and materials. I think the bread you baked looks great. The red wheat berries make for a really pretty crumb. The flecks of bran in the wheat wheat I use are pretty much invisible.

Keep on experimenting!

Cheers,
Phil

PiPs's picture
PiPs

The milling bug has certainly caught you Varda :) ... How much mess have you been creating?

I have been experimenting with different approaches to milling ... yep, still not entirely happy :) I think that's part of the joy for me ... there is so much variety available in the process and materials. I think the bread you baked looks great. The red wheat berries make for a really pretty crumb. The flecks of bran in the wheat wheat I use are pretty much invisible.

Keep on experimenting!

Cheers,
Phil

varda's picture
varda

I've got a fever and the only prescription is more milling.   (Apologies to Christopher Walken.)    So is red wheat not available in your neck of the woods?  I would say that if I could get my crumb to look as good as yours (and crust, slashing, shaping, etc.)   I'd say ok, I'm done now.  

I'm guessing that with how aggressively I sifted my flour, the flecks you see in the crumb are from the rye starter, as I used whole rye for that.    The whole formula didn't make much sense as what good is it to sift out the bran and then go use a whole grain starter.    Oh well.    Hopefully the sense will improve with time.    And let's reframe the mess question.    Mess is good.   It shows you're doing stuff.    Next time I sift my flour, I'll make sure to take some pictures of my kitchen.   That is if I can find my camera amidst the clouds of flour.  

Thanks for your comments. 

-Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I think your bake looks terrific inside and out and it should taste great too with the flours and sifted home killed ....errrr....milled you are using.  From here it just hast to taste as good as it looks.  I like using whole grains in the , like you did,  and then maybe 10-15% whole grain in the dough.   Makes for a fine tasting SD bread.

Even if I go completely insane, buy a mill and start sifting flour all over the kitchen and kingdom come, I'm not buying any silk stockings or hose for sifting  anything ground - no not ever :-)

Happy milling, sifting (especially sifting) and baking,

varda's picture
varda

to pick up some pantyhose for me when he was out, and he had all kinds of excuses for why that wouldn't be a good idea.   If I had realized what the issue was (which I now understand from your comment) I would have just suggested that he tell the clerk that they were for baking.   And I'm sure that would have cleared the whole thing right up.   Thanks as always for your comments.   -Varda

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Varda,
I want to call your bread pain meunier (miller's bread), after the effort you put into making it :^)  (it looks lovely!)
Wishing you the best for milling, sifting and hope it brings great flavor to your baking...I hope to try milling sometime - been thinking about it a long time.
:^) breadsong

varda's picture
varda

no idea that's what meunier meant.   And it's a good name, seeing as that's where most of the effort went.   I do think that the flavor is enhanced with freshly milled flour but it does take some practice to figure out how to use it.    I hope you get to it at some point.    Thank you so much for your comments.   -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

As Phil said, welcome to the lineup of raggedy home millers :)

It is funny that once you pick the milling bug, you begin to think of refining what you milled using funnier means.. I for instance gone insane once and used a hair drier to separate bran from middlings, and now you think about pantyhoses and stuff to bolt your flour :)

Great bread you had there, anyway, Varda! The crumb really looks great. I'll be watching and learning from your milling, and sifting adventures.

Khalid

varda's picture
varda

your hair drier fiasco experiment, and I think you were totally on the right track.   Undoubtedly, industrial procedures involve air flow to separate the bran out.    Hard to figure out how to adapt that to the home environment though.    I'll let you know how cloth versus wire sifting goes.   

I am confused as to how to photograph crumb.    The light always ends up bouncing off of it, and making it look more opaque than it is.    Other people's crumb shots are different and I'm not sure why.    Thanks so much for your comments.   I hope you are comfortable.  

-Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

Late in reading about your adventures into sifting.  I am impressed with your fortitude to carry on despite the mess and time it takes to get the job done.  I did it a couple of times and threw up my hands in exasperation from my position on the floor where I was cleaning up the mess created by my experiments.  I am not one who enjoys the cleaning aspect of baking so my foray into sifting didn't last long.  I still mill but it goes through one time and that is it.  All gets added to the dough.  My kitchen is cleaner and I am happier :-)

In my efforts to keep my work space as clean as possible I have been in search of an item to make my job easier.  Today I tried out a nifty mini vac - the Shark 'carry around' vacuum.  I wanted something light weight to clean up the dust created when I mill and my upright vacuum was a hassle to use.  A dust buster wasn't versatile enough so I bit the bullet and bought a Shark at a local Bed Bath and Beyond.  I put it to the test today with the mini tools and it worked like a charm....just thought I would let you know in case you are in the market for something to help out when you are in cleaning mode....

I look forward to reading about your sifting adventures especially if you try out sifting with cloth...Seems like that would take ages and the useable flour minimal but who knows until it is tried out...

Have fun :-)

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

without sifting at some point because that's good too.   I have no idea why, but sifting doesn't seem like work to me, and messes are easily cleaned up.   I like having control over the flour - at least at some point I may have control over the flour.    And without having tried it, I'm convinced a nylon mesh is the way to go.    But we shall see.  I tried making a hot cereal out of the sifting byproducts and it  was good but I have some ideas for improvements.   Thanks so much for your interest and support.  -Varda  

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Solid gold for us TFL hope2B raggedy millers.  So you mean one doesn't just buy local wheat, throw it in the mill and make picture perfect loaves from the gold that pours out?  Who knew!  50% extraction seems like a lot of product left behind.  Worth it if what's passing through your final sieve makes heavenly silky doughs.

The Hazen piece @Angelfire is a gem.  A curious mix of naive (grammar, etc.) and authoritative writing.  Good to learn this sieving/bolting/boulting thing has a hallowed history, a tradition we're carrying forward, or rediscovering, or stumbling back into.

Thanks for sharing a glimpse of the learning curve.  I look forward to more reports!

Good luck, and have fun with it!

Tom

 

varda's picture
varda

that during my most recent (and not particularly successful) experiment with a knee high nylon I was thinking about you and your belt sander, and wishing you lived closer so you could help me rig something up.   Ah well.   I'll soldier on.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Now that would be a flour storm of biblical proportions, lashing a sieve to a belt sander, without a reduction in its rotational radius down to a few mm maybe. No, I had mentioned a vibrating sander. Still, there are some pesky design issues with such a repurposing. Only worth it if prelim explorations suggest a long term, higher volume method like that would be worth it. 

I've found that dust scatter is minimized when the sieve fits inside the rim of the bowl and both are shaken as a single unit. Maybe that's obvious. Quieter too. 

Have fun!

Tom

varda's picture
varda

sifting flour with help of belt sander in the interesting but let's not try it category.   I haven't tried shaking bowl and sifter as one but I will.   I have a deep sifter (a strainer actually) and find a rapid upward motion above the big as possible bowl gives the best result - shaking back and forth seems to let more bran through.    Actually not much flour gets out and about.   When I measure after sifting, perhaps 10 grams has gone missing, so it's not such a mess after all.    I guess I'll have to learn about power tools next.   And did you ever answer Phil's question about your mods to your KA mill?   -Varda

Crider's picture
Crider

I love doing the sifting thing, and when I don't it's just because I'm lazy. I learned my how-tos by reading those epic exchanges between proth5 and bwraith. Had some success too, with tempering in very small increments, waiting 72 hours, etc. but haven't done that for a while. 

I have a motorized Retsel UniArk and mill the wheat once through fine, then sift the flour through a #30 and a #50 screen. Then remill the middlings that remained in the #50. I have best results without tempering with a heritage soft wheat I get locally. The times I tempered hard red wheat I did notice a difference — fewer chunks of endosperm adhering to the bran. That's something I can feel with my fingers.

I use Keene classifiers, but I believe when it gets hot and dry in the Summer, there's a static electricity buildup in the #50 sifter because they're plastic with metal screen and don't have anything for the electricity to ground to. It takes a lot of time to sift the flour through that #50 during the dry season when our humidity goes down to the high twenties and thirties. The problem goes away when the rainy season comes back (like now).

Anyway, your bread looked great!

varda's picture
varda

First of all mill fine before sifting.   The reason I wasn't doing that was I was afraid the bran would be milled too fine and so would pass through, but I'll try it.   Maybe I'll be able to extract more flour that way.    I'm not sure when I will go back to tempering.   I obviously need to take a different approach.     I still am holding out on the Keene classifiers mainly for aesthetic reasons, but maybe the weight of home miller's opinion will finally push me over.    Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

Crider's picture
Crider

They're big, ugly and when mine were new they smelled bad. I stored them out in the open air in my garage for the first six months or so until they stopped smelling. We found some sort of Tupperware thing (maybe a cake carrier lid) at a yard sale that the classifier fits into nicely. It's light weight and makes sifting a lot easier.

charbono's picture
charbono

The 8-inch test sieves are a good fit in certain sauce pans by makers such as Farberware.  With them, I use circular and sideways motions followed by occasional up-and down motions. 

With strainers, I tap them against my opposed palm over a large bowl.

It is faster to put the flour through the tightest sieve first.

A little flour here and there doesn’t bother me.

varda's picture
varda

through the tightest sieve first, but it seemed counterintuitive.    I will try it though.   Thanks.  -Varda