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Whole wheat bread with freshly milled Massachusetts wheat

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varda's picture
varda

Whole wheat bread with freshly milled Massachusetts wheat

I'm back with new tools.    Ever since Andy (ananda) started posting about baking with local wheat, I've had it in the back of my mind.    However, local in my case means New England, which isn't exactly known as the American bread basket.    In fact I more or less assumed that Massachusetts wheat was an oxymoron.    I did however, keep my eyes open, and found several farms in the area that grew wheat.    The closest however, were not that close, and I had no mill, and, and, and...  But time goes on and new opportunities arise.    With my birthday coming up, my DH asked me what I wanted and I said a mixer.   I picked out a fancy one and was ready to pull the trigger, when I realized that I simply didn't need such high capacity, and would do quite well with a much more modestly priced model.   That meant that I had "saved" a lot of money, so my husband decided to throw in a mill.    With a new mill coming, I needed wheat.   In fact I needed Massachusetts grown wheat.  

I called a friend and convinced her that she absolutely needed to drive west with me to see the leaves (and incidentally buy wheat.)   She agreed that was absolutely necessary, so the other day we went west.    That is 3/4 of the way across Massachusetts to the little town of Gill, where lies a farm called Upinngil, which sells its own wheat.    I tried calling beforehand to see what they had available, but no dice - they didn't answer.    When we got there, true they had 50 lb sacks of wheat in their store, but they were soft red winter wheat, and hard white winter wheat, neither of  which were what I had in mind.   One of the nice women there said that I should come back in two weeks.    That was hardly possible, as my first trip out there had already strained the limits of practicality.   Fortunately at that moment in walked Mr. Hatch, the farmer.    Told of my plight, he said, no problem.   I have some hard red winter wheat out at the cleaner (not the cleaners).   I'll just drive over to the field and pick some up for you.   Phew!   So with a 50 pound sack of wheat in my trunk, mission accomplished.   And yes, the leaves were lovely as well.

Yesterday the mill and the mixer (Bosch compact) arrived and needed to be put to use.   So I got my starter going, and today started milling and baking.   Not knowing my mill very well yet, I milled pretty coarse, and wanting to get to know the wheat, I decided to make all the flour in the final dough my fresh ground whole wheat.      This meant over 75% coarsely ground whole wheat, which is not something that I'm all that familiar baking with, as I usually keep whole grains to 30% or below.   

I have just cut and tasted, and who knew that Massachusetts wheat would be so good.   Mr. Hatch said that he had been growing it as feed for 20 years, but only in the last 10 has he started selling it to bakers who are interested in local foods.    He also told me that a CSA near me makes regular trips out to his farm for milk, cheese, etc.   So it may be that in the future, I won't have to make the trek if I can meet up with them.  

In any case, I think my whole wheat baking needs work, and I am excited to learn more.

The third new tool I used for this bake was a single edge razor for scoring, taking a tip from breadsong.   I love the control it gives.  

Of course that's not quite as exciting as the KoMo Fidibus 21  shown here resting after it's first milling.

 

Here's to local farms:

and local wheat:

I used my WFO today probably for the last time of the season.    Now I need to wrap it up tight so it can get through Sandy unharmed.

And finally, I'll close with the a bit of Autumn splendor:  first Tartarian Asters (over 7 feet tall)

and mums which can't really compete with the leaves this time of year:

Update:  Just changed the title of this post from ...freshly ground... to ...freshly milled...   It ain't coffee after all.

Comments

isand66's picture
isand66

What a beautiful post Varda!

I am so jealous of your new mill.  I have been thinking about buying one myself and the one you have is a great one.

Did you buy any sifters and if so what did you get and where?

Looks like your first bake with your freshly milled flour turned out perfect with a nice open crumb.

I was busy today batting down the hatches for the upcoming storm Sandy fast approaching New York.

Hopefully I will have some power tomorrow to bake my Corn/Rye YW/SD combo!

Beautiful flowers and leaves.  I still have some flowers going in my garden that should have been long gone but when it's 65 degrees in the end of October nothing seems to die.

Regards,
Ian

varda's picture
varda

Hey Ian,   I have one fairly fine sieve that I got at Sur La Table awhile ago.   I am planning to use it, but didn't today.   And I'll probably get an even finer one so I have good control over the bran content.    

 

I think the mill is fantastic and I just need to play around with it to figure out how to get the best results.   Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

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

So nice to see a post from you Varda.  And such a lovely one.  Now there's a sublime combination: Fall in New England and a WFO baking bread from home milled, locally sourced grain.  Got Norman Rockwell all over it.  Except for that Sandy thing of course.  I bet that bread is fabulous.  Looks great.

Sieves:  I bought a 50 mesh sieve from Fantes dot com a while back and have been having all kinds of fun (the kind that only a TFLoafer can have I guess) with it.  Very useful mesh size, paired with the ~25 mesh I'm guessing yours is from SLT.  At some point here, when I'm convinced of the reproduciblity of the methods I've implemented with it, I'll post (sorry --  reproducibility: it's a scientist thing I guess).  I also got a grain mill attachment for my KA mixer -- that and the 50 m sieve are a dangerous combination, getting me into all kinds of trouble (the good kind of course).  When researching mills, I saw a post of yours, that you were considering a KA.  Your KoMo choice can't be faulted.  I'm jealous.  But the KA's been a good baby step for me.

Hope you're doing well -- obviously baking well.  Best of luck with Sandy.

Cheers,

Tom

 

varda's picture
varda

Tom, Thanks for the tip about sieves.   I'll look into it.    I know all about the kind of fun you refer to.   And sometimes I pretend to be scientific and try to reproduce things but most of the time, nah, I forget about it and go on to the next thing.    Interested to hear about your results with the KA Mill.   I feel it will take me some time to learn how to use the KoMo well.    Thanks for your kind words.   And I'm crossing my fingers that Sandy will change her/his mind and spare us.   -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Wondered what you were up to, Varda.    Looks like you're off on a new baking adventure!  Lovely bread - stay safe during Sandy.

My neighbor is a lineman with a power company; he left this morning to join a convoy of repair trucks headed for Massachusetts.   Help is on the way.

varda's picture
varda

Lindy,   I haven't had a chance to post or comment lately, but hopefully I will have more time for that now.    With perhaps a break for Sandy.    Good neighbor of yours.    Thank him for me and thank you for your comments.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

Well, you didn't waste any time :-) Now you need a copy of Peter Reinhart's 'Whole Grain Breads'.  Really a 'must' when working with whole grains....in my opinion only *-}.

Your visit to the wheat farm sounded like fun.  How fortunate that he had what you wanted...though I will put a plug in for hard white wheat - winter or spring - my kids love it and I use it for most of the loaves I bake as the main flour %... It will be interesting to hear about other contacts you make now that your are in the 'circuit'.....amazing what can happen and does :-)

I am curious to read about your milling experiences too.  I played around with the different coarseness-es when I first got mine and now mostly use the coarse setting for making chops or oats like steel cut oats....or the finer settings otherwise the texture of my doughs feels too gritty.  I should branch out a bit.....

Your loaf looks really nice!  A pretty open crumb for a ww dough.

Thanks for including the pictures of your fall colors.  I will be thinking of you when Sandy hits - hoping you are well out of harms way and that you don't end up without power for days and days on end.

Take Good Care of Yourself and your Family,

Janet 

varda's picture
varda

Hi Janet,   Well fortunately things cleared up a bit for me, and I have more time for baking, posting, and silly jaunts out to western Mass.   This bread was surprisingly tasty, as I had assumed it would be coyote food in advance.   My husband who usually stays away from whole grains has been eating it.    Why ask why.   Given the coarseness of the grind (not entirely intended) I was surprised that the final product didn't taste gritty at all.   But I'm just getting started and we'll see how this goes.    I don't dislike white wheat, but don't like it enough to store a 50 lb bag of it in my cellar.     Upinngil grows a lot of interesting grains, and perhaps I'll get back out there and pick up a greater variety.    Thanks so much for your comments and good wishes and of course your help in figuring out which mixer to go with.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Storing Grain..

Not sure what kind of 'critters' you have in your part of the world but a 'must' here is to store my grains in food 'safe' plastic buckets with Gamma Lids HERE.  I color co-ordinate my pails so I know what color goes with which grain. I.e. Rye gets an orange lid, my spelt lives under a green lid, my Kamut is yellow, red wheat gets the red and the blue goes to the white wheat.  I have more but am sure you get the idea.

The 6 lb pails holds 50# of wheat BUT I prefer the 5# pails because they are easier/lighter for me to lift.  

See what owning a mill sets in motion?  :-)  The fun has just begun....

Glad to read that the coarser grind did not create a gritty crumb.  I will have to 'branch' out :-)

So glad to hear your husband is enjoying your bread. My husband was a white bread junkie before I started baking with whole grains.  Now he hates regular 'breads' baked with white flour.  He loves the taste complexity and the consistency of the whole grains.  I think the big difference is that the grains are freshly ground.  I have read that 'store bought' ww has a 'green' taste to it but have no first hand experience as all I have ever baked with has been freshly whole grains - even when my kiddos were young.

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Hey Janet, After researching this thoroughly, I decided to do something else.    I bought a metal trashcan with a tight lid and put the bag of wheat inside it and all down in the basement.    We do get this and that in the basement, sometimes with teeth and I didn't want to risk plastic.    I think this should be fine given that I don't have any other sacks of grains and think I'll get through it in less than 6 months no matter what.   I'm not expecting any conversions from my hubby, so we'll just put this down to a mysterious unexplained anomaly   (MUA?)    Anyhow, back to worrying about the storm.    -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Metal trash cans work great too.  I use them in my garage for my dog food and bird food.  Nothing gnaws through that.  So far I have n't had any rodents gnaw through my pails....mostly its the pantry moths which have been in abundance this year.  They particularly like rye so beware if you buy rye in bulk.  A stint in your freezer will generally clear out any insects.....

I have been reading the news about what is heading your way.....pretty scarey and so early in the season.  Wild weather that is for sure.

Take Care,

Janet

P.S. Love your MUA. :-)  Like Khalid's CBS....compulsive baking syndrome :-)

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I tried some flour from Four Star Farm in Northfield, MA which really isn't that much further away if you happen to be in Gill. They do have a web site and will consider shipping though the site didn't mention what the minimum order might be. They offer hard and soft wheat, barley, spelt, and triticale. If they're not snowed in by the Christmas season, I may have to do a personal inspection while I'm out there visiting my family. Thank you for writing about Upinngil, they sound like they merit a tour as well.

 

Jim

varda's picture
varda

often happen to be in Gill (just once actually) but I'll keep Northfield in mind for my next jaunt west.   Upinngil is a small operation (no shipping) but they sell big bags of their own wheat, which is what I was looking for.   Thanks for the tip and for commenting.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Hanukkah came early for Varda!  New mixer and mill.  The local flour also made a nice boule with some fine crumb and crust .  Nice to see you back to baking with your new toys.  I was stunned to find out they grow some fine semolina in AZ that is exported to Italy and some fine wheat as well.  Who knew?

Happy baking. 

varda's picture
varda

I've done some baking lately but nothing that even interested me, let alone you all.    Have you been able to bake with your local semolina?    Of course with a state the size of AZ, you could be driving a lot longer than I did to get across massachusetts.    Thanks for commenting.   -Varda

varda's picture
varda

At the same time that food is getting increasingly synthesized we have this stuff going on.    Very interesting.   Thanks for including the link.  -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice mill, varda! once you learn how to put it to good use, you'll never be able to do with out it. Beware, though, freshly milled flours ferment extra fast! and they have the tendency to get away from you before you notice. The key to good flavored freshly milled100% wholegrain  breads is to keep fermentation short, and temperature under control.

Glad to hear from you again. Sit tight, stay indoors, and take care, from the looks of it.. sandy is going to be some really wet storm.

varda's picture
varda

Hi Khalid,    I recall PiP commenting on how fast fresh milled flour ferments, so I kept a good eye on my dough.    I did a shorter Bulk Ferment than usual (2 hours instead of around 2.5 or 3) but found that the proof time was around the same as usual.   But I know you have done some really nice baking with whole grains, and I'll take a look at some of your formulas before I go back to it.   We still have no idea how bad the storm will be around here, so we are just getting ready and hoping for the best.     Thanks so much for your comments.   -Varda

loydb's picture
loydb

I'm in Rhode Island, and am excited about local grains as well. Check out the grain CSA at http://www.localgrain.org/about/, I'm looking forward to December 12.

Loyd

 

varda's picture
varda

for the link.    I'll take a look.   Amazing how much is going on.  -Varda

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

That was a lovely post, Varda.  A wonderful autumn adventure!

 

varda's picture
varda

an adventure indeed.   And a really beautiful drive out to western Mass.   Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hello Varda,

How good to see you back at TFL reporting on new adventures.

My first trip onto TFL pages for nearly 2 weeks; a pleasure to read what you have been up to.

In the meantime my Dissertation is.....finished!

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

but now I'm wondering why I didn't get a better mixer sooner.    Best to have the right tools for the job.    Congratulations on completing your dissertation.    And now that it's done I hope you'll have a bit of time to share your own adventures on TFL.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Varda,

How wonderful to see you have joined the ranks of us 'mad home millers' :)

I love the colour of the red wheat. I have only been able to source white wheat here in Australia ... but I just love the flavour! Sifting certainly does add a whole new level of possibilities (and mess) to milling your own flour. Like Janet I prefer a finer grind for wheat ... I usually wind it down till the stones just touch then back it off a notch or two. For the softer grains like spelt and rye I will back it off about two or three finger widths.

Your whole-wheat bread looks great ... was it baked on a stone or in a dutch oven? The crumb has certainly got some great colour in it!

What hydration level were you working at? I found this was another area I needed to adapt to depending on the wheat plus keeping a stiff starter helps.

You have a lot of fun and experimenting to do!! What fun!

Cheers,
Phil

varda's picture
varda

So glad you chimed in.    I have been bad about commenting lately, but have been gasping in admiration at the diamond scoring on the miche in your latest post.     And obviously your repeated photos of your KoMo finally wore me down.    I was very confused by the markings on the mill on my first time out, and couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting a finer grind.   Only afterward did I see the dot which would have helped me figure it out.    Thanks for the tips on how to get the right settings.    I baked this in my WFO which has a stone floor.   No dutch oven.   I have been scorching my bread lately as I figure out the temperature by checking a point on the outside of the oven, without remembering that I have to take account of the cooler air temperature.    So this time, I was careful not to overbake,  even though it took only 22 minutes to bake through.   I used my regular 67% starter with mostly bread flour, a bit of rye.   The dough hydration was 70%.   How have you adapted your hydration - up or down?     This wheat seems to have fairly high gluten.   On the mix it adhered very quickly into an elastic ball, and then broke down during bulk ferment due I suppose to the very high bran content.    It was a bit fragile during stretch and folds, and I had to be very careful not to tear it.     I will certainly go for a finer grind the next time, and then perhaps start experimenting with sifting.   I'll have to go through your posts when I get that far.    I don't really understand white wheat, but obviously in the right baker's hands its a winner.    I thought it was some sort of frankenberry where they figured out how to engineer out the things the "I hate whole wheat" crowd hates about red wheat, but now I'm starting to think I've just imagined all that.   Thanks so much for commenting.   I figured I better get my response out quickly while we still have electricity.    A monster storm is heading this way.  -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

All the best Varda ... I will write a longer reply in a day or so. I hope you fair well in the coming days!

Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Phil,

A question for you about how you mill rye and spelt.  I tend to go finer with softer grains but read that you loosen up a bit when grinding them.  Why is that?  Personal preference?  Do they hold up better in the final loaf?  I always worry about the grain being too 'grainy' if I back off of the 'fine' setting too much so what you are saying is something I want to learn more about and today I am using rye - your Borodinsky formula is in the works so I am lining up my ingredient piles so I will be ready tonight :-)

Take Care,

Janet

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I found that even with a 'loose' setting on the mill I still achieved a fine flour and larger soft pieces of bran. They never feel coarse like hard wheat.

Perhaps the spelt and rye grains I use are softer than what you are using. The rye especially has caused me grief when I mill it to finely. Clogs up the mill and then ferments way too quickly causing me all kinds of trouble. I have much better success after winding back the mill two finger widths for spelt and rye.

The rye works even better after a bit of sifting :)

Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the speedy response.  I went ahead and milled the rye for tomorrow's loaf a few notches higher than usual and was surprised by how it turned out. ( I can't eat any of what I bake so I have no idea of how the mouth feel is so I had just assumed that the coarser I grind the grittier the grain would be in the finished loaf so I have erred on the side of 'fine' for all grains except when I am going for coarse - chops etc...)

Hadn't figured in the softness of the grain being ground except when dealing with oat groats....those I usually do on coarse or mixed with hard wheat.

I tried my hand at sifting once.....never again :-O

Again, thanks for the info!

Take Care,

Janet

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

A lovely loaf to complete your wood-fired baking for the season.   You may want to look here: http://www.amazon.com/Infrared-ThermometerNon-contact-accurate-temperature-measuring/dp/B003XICKQ8/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1352937125&sr=8-14&keywords... ready for next Spring???

Phil and Janet's discussion is essentially about starch damage.   If the grain is soft and ground too finely it will result in excess starch damage which leads to gummy dextrose, caused by excess amylase activity.   Avoid this at all costs!

That does look a fine loaf; very good to read about your milling ventures

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Andy,   I have one of those thermometers.   But don't always seem to get temperature right even with that.    It seems hard to get a consistent temperature by measuring the oven floor when the fire is still going, so I have settled on measuring a point on the outside of the oven on the side, which is not insulated.   But even this is inconsistent as it depends both on outside air temperature and how much heat has moved through the clay.    How do you do the measurement?    Your point re starch damage is well taken, and I will beware.   Thanks.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

If only it were so simple!   It is all about the heat you have stored in the masonry mass.   In your case, your oven is a relatively simple design, and there is not that much solid matter to heat up.   So that means it will cool down quickly too!   The IR Thermometer literally tells you what the temperature is on the point your IR beam hits.   If you want to know more, you have to start measuring the temperature of "what lies beneath".   Your oven has little to offer.   My oven has no roof to protect it from the elements.   A serious brick oven has couplings buried within it which will give temperature readings within the brickwork itself.

By illustration; with my oven, I usually fire it the day before baking if I haven't used it for a few days, in an attempt to get some heat into the bricks - mine is built with firebrick, not clay.   I baked 14 loaves today.   Yesterday I fired the oven for 3 hours in the rain.   It rained here for 60 hours solid, only stopped 06:00 this morning.   I don't have a roof to cover the oven.   When I lit the oven this morning at 06:30, I checked the temperature and  the whole structure varied between 45 and 50*C.   I was really despondent, as ordinarily it would be closer to 100*C after firng the day before!   Anyway, it had just stopped raining, and I got a good fire going.   For all that, it was a real struggle to get a decent bake on the second batch of bread loaded to the oven.

I realise I've rambled a bit here, but I wanted to try and paint a picture of how, and why a brick oven can be so difficult to bake on.

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

I do have what lies  beneath as I put slabs of brick wall on top of rock, mud, and perlite layers and under the hearth.   But I can't get to it to measure.  Our ovens sound like they share one thing - it's harder to use them than turning a knob.   After that everything is different because of size, design complexity and materials.   With clay, if you don't cover during the rain, the oven bit by bit disappears.   I use a big tarp, but I would love some sort of lean-to over it.    The main issue there is pouring some concrete footings for the posts.   It makes me tired just thinking about it.   Thanks for your answer and rambling is good as it conveys more color.  -Varda

jarkkolaine's picture
jarkkolaine

I noticed this post only now but had to comment anyway. Your mill looks perfect, the farm is amazingly beautiful. And it's exciting to read about your experiences in milling your own flour.

Every post like this makes me want to buy my own mill a bit more... :)

Cheers,

Jarkko

varda's picture
varda

I'm thinking of doing a lot of white flour baking as an antidote to milling whole wheat flour and turning it into hearty brown loaves.    Maybe I'll try baking with cake flour (no just kidding.)    Bake away.   At some point a mill will appear in your life.   -Varda