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Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough

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bwraith's picture
bwraith

Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough

Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough Crumb

Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough Loaf

The home milling and sifting adventure continues. My most recent effort felt like a big step forward in several ways. Tempering, based on some suggestions by proth5 in response to a previous blog entry, was explored. Multiple successively finer passes of the mill were used this time, including re-milling of the sifted results from various steps in the process. Home ash content tests were performed, to understand better the distribution of bran and outer seed coat particles across the various outputs of my milling process. The outputs were then blended to a desired ash content and a sourdough loaf was baked. Photos of the process are posted, as well as a video of the tempering system I rigged up at the last minute (this is more for entertainment, but it may have helped). A process flow chart is posted showing the steps followed to mill and sift this flour, as well as a spreadsheet showing the ash content analysis for the various outputs of the milling process.

Notes on the Bread

The recipe for the sourdough loaf is similar to that for previous blog entries except no whole wheat was used in the levain and the rye was lightly sifted through a #25 sieve to remove the larger bran particles. A levain was prepared with 15% fermented flour as a percentage of total flour in the dough. The rye flour was 5% of the total flour, and the remainder of the flour was the home milled and sifted blend from this adventure. The rye flour went into the levain. The hydration was 79%, which proved to be too high. I realize the water absorption is in between whole wheat and white flour, so I probably would have been happier with a hydration around 74%. The resulting dough was closer to a ciabatta dough than I was intending, but the bread that resulted was wonderful. I was using my brick oven for some braising earlier in the day, which forced me to refire the oven in an attempt to bring up the temperature. I mismanaged the heat a little, which caused the somewhat scorched bottoms of the loaves you see in the photos. The resulting bread had a much lighter crumb than previous attempts, showing that I was much more effective at separating out the dark from light components of the berry.

Tempering

Based on a great suggestion from proth5, I explored tempering the wheat berries before starting to mill. Proth5 added 2% water to the berries. Some discussion in "Wheat Flour Milling" by Posner and Hibbs suggested 14%-17% moisture content. A Delmhorst G7 Grain Moisture Meter was used on Heartland Mill "Milling Wheat (M2 product)" and found to have a 10.6% moisture content. I decided to split the recommendations of proth5 and the suggestions in "Wheat Flour Milling" and added enough water to the grain to bring the moisture content to 14%. In a later discussion with a representative of Meadows Mills (my mill is a Meadows 8 inch stone mill), 14% was considered a touch too high, and 13% was suggested as a reasonable moisture content for my mill. So, Proth5 suggestions were very good, but by then I had already added the water to the berries.

Concern for very even moisture distribution motivated a couple of strategies for tempering the wheat. First, an atomizer was used to spray the water a few grams at a time onto berries, stirring in between sprayings to initially do a good job spreading the water evenly throughout the grain. I then borrowed the rotisserie from my outdoor grill, and rigged it in my workshop to be able to mount a plastic container of grain on it. In order to rotate the grain for a few hours without putting undue strain on the rotisserie, it was counterbalanced by attaching some small, heavy vices on the counterweight, which was too small on its own. A video of the contraption is available, as it is hard to describe accurately, but easy to understand once you see the video. The rotisserie was used for a few hours until the wheat seemed fairly dry to the touch. It was then allowed to sit for about 30 hours before milling.

Multiple Pass Milling and Sifting

After reading some of the chapter on milling in "Wheat Flour Milling" and browsing through various diagrams of milling processes, I took a wild shot at doing what I could as a complete novice to approximate the processes in a general way with my Meadows 8 Inch Stone Mill, and a series of sieves stacked in a Sieve Shaker. The equipment is described in an earlier blog entry.

The basic idea was to first mill very coarsely to separate the bran gently from the rest of the berry, followed by sifting out the flour from the darker material, followed by re-milling and re-sifting the darker material to obtain more flour. True to the discussions in "Wheat Flour Milling", the whiter flour was extracted from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th passes, not from the first pass. I was surprised to discover this, but the ash content results showed much lower ash content for passes 2-5, particularly for the flour extracted from 3rd and 4th passes.

Passes 1-4 were successive, meaning that the "coarse red material" sifted from the #40 or #60 sieve was re-milled and resifted in series. In pass 5 the coarser results of passes 2 and 4 were mixed, re-milled, and re-sifted. In pass 6 the very coarse, mostly bran output caught in a #40 sieve was re-milled and re-sifted.

A process flow chart is posted that shows the details of the milling and sifting procedure followed.

Ash Content and Blending

Six flours, two coarse red "products", and 1 "bran" were the final results of all the milling and sifting above. Home ash content tests were performed on all of those products, as well as on sample saved from some of the intermediate steps. A spreadsheet is posted showing the results of the ash content measurements.

The results show that the flour through a #60 sieve that looks very much like Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo has a very high ash content. It was the flour from passes 2,3,4, and 5 that went through a #60 sieve that ended up having lower ash content. The flour from pass 1 had an ash content of 1.4%, not that far from whole wheat. In earlier one or two pass attempts, the ash content was probably closer to 1.4%, which explains the almost whole wheat quality of the breads from my first two tries. The ash content of passes 2 and 5 was around 1%, a little lower than Golden Buffalo flour from Heartland Mill. The flour from passes 3 and 4 was lowest, around .7% and much closer to a white flour, which might be something like .55%.

In the spreadsheet I created blends of the various outputs, so that I could get the ash content desired. As it turns out, by combining all the "flours" and leaving out all the coarse red and bran products, an ash content around 1.1%, maybe a little lower but very comparable to Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo would be obtained. So, all the flours were blended to obtain the flour used in the bread pictured above. This bread was clearly lighter than previous attempts. The dough handled much more like white flour, created a satin smooth surface texture, and seemed strong and extensible. The yield was much higher than in previous attempts, 85% of the final products and 81.5% of the weight of the berries before tempering, yet the ash content was lower than flour obtained in previous attempts that only yielded around 65% of the initial weight of the berries.

Nutritional Editorial Comment

Sifting, as done here, does remove some of the bran, outer layers, and germ from the flour. However, since the ash content is around 1.1% and whole wheat is around 1.7%, it can be argued that around 2/3 of the outer layers is making it into this flour. So, although it is not a pure whole grain flour, it still has much of the material from the outer layers. By dusting the loaf with the bran, further fiber is added. As a results, this bread should contain a significant proportion of the nutritional benefits of freshly milled whole grain flour. For me, it's worth doing this to be able to enjoy breads with lighter flavors and textures closer to white flours, without much loss of the nutritional values and freshness of milled-on-demand flour.

A More Practical Approach (Maybe)

Many of you may immediately view this little adventure as very impractical - with good justification, too. However, it at least is an example of creating flour of various grades at home, a drastically scaled down version of what happens in a real mill, doable at home, even if a little too large for the majority of home bakers.

I believe a simple version of this could use one #60 sieve and one #40 sieve and a Retsel Stone Mill or other similar mill that provides good control of the coarseness of the flour output. If set to much coarser settings, multiple passes could be performed on the coarse results caught in the #40 and #60 sieves. The sifting could be done by hand, even in quantities up to around 2Kg, although it is a little tedious and laborious. Maybe only 3-4 passes would be done, to minimize the labor, but the results of running tempered berries through at a coarser setting, and then re-milling more finely the coarse results caught in the sieve and re-sifting should allow the extraction of a reasonable flour similar to Golden Buffalo, just as shown above.

Where From Here

Even with a sieve shaker, the sifting is the most tedious and time consuming part of this process. The milling for all the steps combined for about 2Kg of berries was probably only about 10-15 minutes. The milling goes very quickly. However, the sifting drags on for 20 minutes at a time at first. Later steps are quite fast, and the last couple of passes can be done more quickly by hand, given the reduced amount of product.

I've ordered a Meadows Mill Eccentric Sifter (Goetter, hehe?) to add to the burgeoning list of equipment in the workshop. My hope is that this will make the sifting take only minutes at a time, more comparable and well matched to the milling speeds. Of course, this is all massive overkill for home baking. Yes, massive, massive overkill, no question. However, it is a hobby pursued with passion that may not always make sense in practical terms. It is the beauty of the home engineering, the resourcefulness required, and the delicious freshness of the bread that all contribute to the enjoyment.

Another remaining nagging missing piece of the puzzle is a flour analysis tool that would allow more thorough understanding of all the outputs, such as protein content, moisture content, water absorption, and ash content. Maybe I've figured out the ash content using the conductivity method described previously, but it seems to take a good 12-24 hours to get useful results from it. I'd like to be able to get quick turn-around for these measurements, in order to optimize the milling and sifting strategies.

Update (1/28/07)

Loaves Made With Flour From Meadows Sifter

Loaves Made With Flour From Meadows Sifter - Crust

I received the Meadows Eccentric Sifter (see video) and conducted a milling, sifting, and baking session (see photos), as well as some home ash content tests to check out the results with the new sifter. The Meadows sifter is far faster than my original approach with a sieve shaker and produces 4 separations simultaneously with great ease.

The sieve shaker had some advantages, in retrospect. You could inspect the results easily and fine-tune the sifting strategy very easily and quickly. Also, very little product is lost using the mining sieves, which is valuable for the smaller amounts I tend to do each time. The Meadows Sifter kept a couple of pounds in it, probably in the nooks and crannies of the wooden sieves and some built up on the fabric sleeves used to transport the flour. The Meadows Sifter made it more difficult to inspect or change the sifting process, as the sieves are tightly bolted down with wing nuts on long threaded rods. You can open it up, but it's much more time consuming than it is to detach and separate the mining sieves.

In this milling session, I tempered the wheat to a 13% moisture content. The tempering process was shortened to only 12 hours as a result of impatience to test out the sifter. The first pass through the Meadows 8 Inch Mill was troublesome. The breaker tripped even though I had the mill set to a fairly wide opening of about 1/8 turn on the adjustment screw. After several tries, I was able to complete the first pass with the screw open between 1/4 and 1/8 turn. A while later, I tried running untempered wheat at 10.6% moisture content through the mill, and it also had a tendency to jam the mill. Since I really don't have the slightest idea what the right opening is for the first pass through the mill, I'm not sure what to conclude. On the one hand, the milling went very smoothly with wheat tempered to 14% moisture content for more than 24 hours. On the other hand, the Meadows representative seemed very clear that 13% moisture content or less was preferred for the Meadows Mill. However, when I used less moisture and less tempering, the milling seemed more difficult on the first pass. All subsequent passes were uneventful, even on the finest settings.

After completing the milling session, I ran some home ash content tests. Clearly the yield of lower ash content white flours was much lower. I believe this again had to do with using lower moisture content wheat tempered for a shorter time. The flours seemed more like my earlier attempts with the Retsel mill, where one or two passes with untempered wheat berries resulted in a flour much closer to a whole wheat flour.

The sense that the flours were darker was corroborated by the home ash content tests, which showed the flour coming the the #60 sieve had an ash content almost as high as Heartland Mills WW flour (I'm making my flour with Heartland Mills "Milling Wheat (M2)". Output from subsequent passes had an ash content close to 1%, whereas in my earlier attempt with 14% moisture content 24 hour tempered berries, the flour from passes 3-4 that was the whitest had an ash content of about .75%. I think this explains why my earlier one or two pass attempts made loaves that seemed so much more like whole wheat loaves than my more recent multi-pass attempts with well tempered 14% moisture content wheat.

In order to get a flour something like Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo, I had to accept a lower yield this time. The home ash content tests take at least 24 hours of soaking, so I used color and inspection of the flour, plus the knowledge that the middle passes would be lower in ash content to blend the outputs to get a flour of the same approximate "color" as the Golden Buffalo. My "high touch" method came out to have an ash content almost equal to that of Golden Buffalo, but my yield was only about 65% this time, whereas I had a lower ash content with close to 80% yield in my earlier attempt with berries at 14% moisture content and tempered for more than 24 hours.

The loaves were made without any diastatic barley powder this time, and the crumb had no hint of gumminess. The color of the crust stayed slightly lighter than before. The gluten seemed a little better this time, which makes me wonder if the protein content or quality from this session was slightly better. It's hard to say, because I reduced the hydration based on the previous results, and this dough may have behaved well just because of more optimal hydration. However, maybe the gluten quality is somehow improved due to the different ash content, tempering method, and sifting method.

The loaves that resulted were very good. As noted above, the crumb was a touch darker than the last one, which correlates with the higher ash content measurement. However, the crumb was still much closer to a white bread, similar to the last one, as opposed to earlier attempts that were clearly closer to a whole wheat bread.

Comments

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

oh my god I am utterly gobsmacked. I am drooling and amazed at that wonderful crumb!

 

bwraith you did an amazing job with these!

I hope to reach that standard one day!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Thegreenbaker,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm very pleased to hear you like it.

Bill

Kwynn's picture
Kwynn

I just purchased my NutriMill grain mill.  I am brand new to the whole bread baking experience with or without fresh flour and I would love to try lots of different things - my biggest hold back is recipes using fresh milled flour.

Does anyone have any recipes for freshed milled flour (I use hard white wheat for bread - but can also use hard red wheat)

Does anyone have suggestions for substituing store bought flour with fresh milled flour?

I would love the feedback

Thanks!

 

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Kwynn,

I'm very new to using freshly milled whole grain flours, but it seems to me you can use any recipe with fresh milled whole grain flour, where whole grain flour is called for in a recipe.

I very much like a mixture of 50/50 red and white whole wheat where whole wheat flour is called for. The red wheat is a little more bitter and grassy, but the white wheat is bland to my taste. I prefer something in between red and white whole wheat. If you want lower protein, which will normally give a softer crumb with larger holes for the same dough consistency, you can use Hard (red/white) winter wheat for part or all of the grain used. These breads have all been made with hard red winter wheat berries from Heartland Mill, by the way. I love Wheat Montana flours and will probaby experiment with 50/50 combinations of freshly milled Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief wheat berries soon. Between Heartland Mill and Wheat Montana, I have been extremely pleased the flours, and the berries from both sources appear to be very well cleaned, high quality, and ready for milling. I was surprised at the excellent quality of the berries and had no idea how simple it was if you just want whole grain flour.

If you go the link to my blog above, you can find several 99-100% whole grain flour recipes. Also, most of the miche recipes are more than 50% whole grain, which is a good way to still get a good rise while using a lot of whole grain flour in your bread. Mine are all sourdough recipes. Search on "WGB" to find recipes from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads (or buy the book, which is just great) that use yeast, if you prefer using instant yeast. Also, check out Jmonkey's blog (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/jmonkey). He has a lot of good information about whole grain recipes, including his recent sourdough whole grain recipes with spelt.

With freshly milled whole grain and/or organic flours that have not been "enzymatically balanced", maybe there is a question of how much, if any, diastatic malted barley flour to add.

You can try adding a teaspoon or two to see if it makes a difference. If the crumb seems "gummy", it may have too much enzyme action.

I find that if the whole grain flours are soaked for 12 hours, that all goes well without any barley powder.

Good luck using the new Nutrimill.

Bill

browndog's picture
browndog

Look, it's a wee Bill! How jolly!

I'm going to tuck in here behind greenbaker before the techno crowd hits. Quite the double whammy from you and zolablue this weekend, some amazing loaves.

I remain well within my comfort zone, after reading through this post, by going to the co-op and scooping out my five pounds of ready-made, but it certainly is interesting to watch your experiment evolve. And yet again I am so very impressed by the quality of your baking, your analytical mind, and your full throttle approach.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Browndog,

Well, everyone seems to be doing it, so I figured why not. Since I'm the main photographer around here - how deprived we are compared to ZB - it was fruitless and futile searching through my 30,000 digital photos to find even one suitable for the "virtual face" (what a term). I had to use the timed photography and a tripod and stare painfully into the camera, waiting for it with a painted on grin. A friend then pointed out that I should have used telephoto so the already somewhat spherical features wouldn't be expanded beyond recognition.

I still say that a NutriMill or maybe a Retsel or similar mill for making freshly milled whole grain flour, and dispensing with the sifting distraction, might be right up your alley, even if it requires a gadget.

Bill

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Bill, I am in awe of your tenacity.  As I skimmed your article (I admit it, the details did not enthrall me - maybe another time), the question that kept popping into my head was, "Was it worth it, Bill?"  So will you do it again on a regular basis?  I watched your little video and thought it was probably a fun project to do once.

Rosalie

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Rosalie,

It was at least worthwhile to me as a great learning experience. At the very least, I doubt I would ever buy whole grain flour again. It's just so simple to mill the berries in the Retsel, if not the Meadows Mill, and the freshly milled flour is wonderful. I'm definitely a believer at the very least in that part of the process.

As far as sifting, it's a little harder to justify, but I suspect it will be done regularly. Proth5 points out, in a comment I've read but not yet replied to, that the sifting part can be done "high touch" with a very reasonable effort if one is willing to use a little bigger sieve for a higher extraction result. Also, it is very valid that lighter plastic or wooden sieves (as Liz uses, I believe) would result in quite a bit less effort when doing it by hand. Even with the metal sieve, for smaller amounts, I found it easier to do by hand than going to the trouble to load the sieve shaker.

I'm taking it out on a limb one step further with the Meadows Sifter, but the idea for me is that by making the process faster, though much less "high touch",  I may get beyond my own energy barriers to using it regularly for more customized flours. I believe that will be the case and will write more about it when I start using it.

I know I would use the proth5 method or Liz'a approach regularly after exploring all this. However, I'm interested in being able to blend different flours and grains, which is what pushed me one more step with the Meadows Sifter.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I'm impressed if you can get a result so close to Golden Buffalo. I seriously love that flour and would not want to do without it.

 

Your brain once again impresses me and depresses me at the same time. I wonder if I had one would I take it out and play with it! Geez, Louise, Bill! I do admire your passion and tenacity but I know even this, for you, is all child's play. Ho ho ho.

 

Love the info even though I was searching desperately for the button that would translate it into English for me. Something I do understand though is that your bread is beautiful and I love that crumb! Are you tired now? Hehe.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

ZB,

Thanks for all the nice compliments. I do love that GB flour too. I'm an admirer of Thom Leonard for the recipes, Golden Buffalo flour, and all the neat information he has provided on the internet about flours and milling.

The flour from this process, which probably can be simplified and sped up a lot, was very much like Golden Buffalo, at least I thought so. I was encouraged by this result, as the previous attempts were more like whole wheat flour - nice flours and nice breads results - but the objective of a lighter flour like the Golden Buffalo wasn't achieved.

I am a little tired now, but it's a natural break - starters in the refrig, lots of bread in the freezer - until the new sifter arrives.

Bill

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Bill,

Reading your post I realized I had the same look on my face and pain in my head as when the nuns wanted me to take Latin! Of course, I've always been sorry I didn't but I'm too old to try and follow your project. I do try though, I really do. And I see your great results so you go Bill.                                                     weavershouse

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Weavershouse,

Although I've taken an overkill approach, it seems very practical to do the type of sifting approach mentioned by Proth5 and Liz.

Thanks for taking a look, even if it's a bit over-the-top with the process flow diagrams and industrial equipment in the workshop.

Bill

fleur-de-liz's picture
fleur-de-liz

Bill:

Empirically, you seem to have achieved a Golden Buffalo type flour. The color and openess of the crumb are certainly there. I have been following your experiments and am fascinated by you what you are doing and achieving. It appears that your methods are getting the flour that you want. Do you think there are food labs that could test your flour? I did a quick google search and found one food lab that does flour analyses (http://www.intertek-cb.com/newsitetest/services/agri/flourbakingtests.shtml), although I couldn't find their location in the US. From the little that I know of this, it seems that a flour analysis tool would lead to some very expensive lab equipment.

I appreciate your keeping us involved in your process!

Liz

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Liz,

The color, speckles, dough handling, bread results, and home ash content tests, all were much like Golden Buffalo, which is a favorite flour and the standard I've been trying to emulate with my home milling and sifting attempts. I was very pleased with this latest result.

I agree it looks like flour analysis lab equipment may be very expensive, probably beyond where I'm willing to go with this project. I could use a faster test for ash content and would be very interested to know the protein content of the various flours sifted out in the process.

I'll take a look at your link. It's something to think about. It would be too slow for an effecient, fast fine tuning of my milling process, where repeated short turnaround is what would be helpful, but as a one-time or occasional check it could be extremely informative and useful to send samples of the various outputs from the process to a lab for testing.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

As an infinitely small part of this process, let me add my comments for more "high touch" home millers.

I have also gone to a mining equipment store to buy sieves, but plastic sieves with stainless steel screens.  These have made a big difference to me, with a much smaller total cost. (and lower weight...)

I am grinding smaller amounts of flour on a hand powered Diamant mill.  To sift, I simply place my seive over a large stainless steel bowl (from an inexpensive set of nesting bowls) and shake.  I can sift a pound in mere minutes through a #30  with very little effort.

I temper my wheat simply by adding water of 1-2% by weight to a covered bucket of wheat berries.  I shake the thing when I first add the water and then let it sit on the kitchen counter.  The water gets absorbed.

I have also adopted the three pass method, which takes a little extra time, but somewhat less effort as the mill is easier to crank.

I "look" at my results and compare the color with a sample of the commercial flour that I would like to emulate.  I make a little poolish and "see" if my flour behaves the same as my commercial flour.  I bake bread with a known formula and "see" if I "like" the results.

My "home milled" efforts have greatly improved.

I deeply appreciate bwraith's analytics and attention to detail - not all of us have it within our reach.  But, there are ways to do this on a more limited scale and I do commend these to any home miller.  I also commend his methods - which are to experiment, observe, adjust, and experiment again.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

Thanks for sharing your pointers on doing this in a more practical way. I was concerned I might be discouraging home millers with my semi-industrial and technical approach. What you and Liz have both described are very practical ways to get a customized sifted flour without all the crazy stuff I've done so far.

I do hope that sharing the process, including milling process details, ash content, and equipment, even if few adopt any of it at home, may provide useful information. In addition, the pointers and suggestions from you, Liz, and Ben (probably leaving someone out, sorry) have been very helpful to me and others in return.

I did some hand sifting at the beginning, and it's easy to see in retrospect that the plastic sieves would be effective and much easier to use by hand due to the lighter weight.

Also, by using a #40 or #50, it should be possible to sift out a little bit more refined flour at a somewhat lower yield, if that is the objective, following your same techniques. I think Liz was using a #60, if I understood correctly. I would think that a three pass milling with my Retsel, refeeding all the "caught flour", combined with hand sifting using a #60 would result in a flour very similar to what I got with my process and would be practical by hand even in 2Kg amounts.

I also can verify that with my Retsel, it is almost necessary, and certainly far faster and easier, to feed the coarser product back through the mill. I tried to re-mill "flour" with the Retsel mill that came through a #60 sieve, and it went too slowly, heating up the mill at the same time. However, a granular product caught by something like #40 sieve or larger should re-mill much more quickly in the Retsel, especially if kept at a slightly coarser setting than I would use to do a one-pass fine milling to get a whole grain flour, as I've been doing to obtain small amounts of whole rye and whole spelt used in some of my recipes.

As I spend more time, it will probably be possible to train myself to identify and relate the color of the flour to the ash content and general quality of the flour. I did find the home ash content test, which is fairly practical and not too expensive to do at home, was very revealing where my eye or touching/squeezing the flour in my hand wasn't yet discerning much difference. Still, to a large extent most of what I decided to do in terms of re-milling coarseness and choosing sieve sizes was decided through simple observation and handling of the flour. My respect for millers of days gone by has increased by imagining trying to do this without some of the technological assistance available now.

Thanks again for commenting on how to get what should be similar results in a way that is accessible to most home millers/bakers.

By the way, have you tried aging your flour? I remember reading Liz had experimented with it, and I read the thread in the forums about aging that was very interesting.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Oh, the flour - not me...

Aging is a big deal discussion.  I have seen it proposed as a way of getting balance in the amylase activity. It certainly seems to be key for the quality of white flour - as is malting - so, two additional factors.

As a result of my schedule, my flour has been "aged" about 5 days in the refrigerator before I bake with it, but this is well below the amount of aging that has been advised for balancing the amylase activity. But is it really needed?  Unknown. (You see, this is where that Falling Number test would be so sweet...) 

But, after I return to milling/baking again, I intend to run aging experiments.  Or, read the results of yours and then try my own variant of those.  Can't hurt to get to get two sets of results, eh?

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Right, let's not age ourselves, if at all possible. Maybe malt is the key.

Do you have any insight into the right amount of malt for various grades of self-milled and sifted flour? I did add about 4 grams to about 1600g of total flour in the recipe for the bread shown above. I haven't done any systematic tests, but it seemed to me that in the first try at this, where I added about 8 grams of malt powder, that the crumb had a slight gumminess. I backed off on the amount in the last two tries. However, I don't really have much feel for how much to use for any given situation. I suspect that it doesn't make much difference with these higher ash flours, especially since I am soaking them as I would a whole grain flour for about 12 hours.

I don't know if I'll get a chance to do much aging testing, either, in the next few weeks. I'll be curious to hear whatever you may discover if you start doing some tests yourself. I'm taking a little break until the new sifter arrives, at least. For one thing, I have lots of bread in the freezer from these last few tries.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Ok, results of my research (I don't know this stuff off the top of my head.)

Malt is used to correct for alpha-amylase action in flour.  Without sufficient alpha-amylase fermentation is sluggish.  Too much, however, and you get the observed gummy crumb.

The alpha-amylase activity depends on the conditions under which the wheat has been grown and harvested, so this seems to be intrinsic to the grain that is being milled.

Amylase activity is measured by Falling number (oh my).  A high Falling number means low amylase activity, a low Falling number, high activity.  Malt is added to white commercial flours to correct the Falling number to an acceptable range as most wheat delivered to commercial mills will have insufficient alpha-amylase activity.

Whole wheat flours tend to have high Falling numbers.  Do they need malt?  Perhaps - but it should be noted that the high ash content also provides nutrients for the growing yeast, so it must come in to balance.

Quantities of .1-.2% of flour weight are advised if malt is used at all. Your bread is looking pretty good, so maybe "do what you been doing?"

Aging. As I hear it, aging helps the disufide bonds to to completely form, which aids in the formation of gluten strands.  So malt and aging do two different things (from what I hear).  Your bread seems to have some pretty nice gluten strands going for it, so I'm not sure you need to change - however - aging is really oxidation.  Oxidation can also take place in the mixing process.  To an extent this is good, but at some point it reduces the flavor of the bread.  So, where is the balance between aging and mixing?

Of course, the nutrition will suffer somewhat if you age whole wheat flour and if your aim is maximum nutrition - you would always use the flour fresh.  Again, where is the balance?

I favor old malt in liquid form - but that is a whole other type of product, which I may need after considering all of the countless variables that go into this milling and baking process.

Not sure this helps...

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

Thanks, the malt and aging discussion above is a nice summary of both. I guess 4g would be at or just over .2%, outside of your range. So, it makes sense my results were gummy at 8g in 2Kg and more reasonable at 4g. It sounds like I could just do without. Similarly, I already seem to have good gluten development, at least with the higher ash content "Golden Buffalo-like flour", so there is little incentive to do aging. The freshness and nutrition benefits seem to weigh in the balance, since the dough seems to rise well, as far as I can tell so far.

As I mentioned to Liz, maybe these considerations are more important if I were trying to make some whiter breads with the lower ash content subset of flour I was able to produce. However, I don't expect to get to that soon, as it just isn't that often I want to make white breads. Also, as far as making white breads, the storage, spoilage, and freshness issues are less important for purchased white flour. I was planning to keep a certain amount of something like Heartland AP, KA organic AP, and/or Wheat Montana AP, and maybe some high gluten white flour anyway, just for those occasions where a good white bread flour is needed, like some of my favorite focaccia recipes. The real objective of the home milling and sifting exercise was to have a way to produce a variety of fresh-on-demand higher extraction or whole grain flours without the hassle of finding and maintaining a diverse selection of purchased high extraction and whole grain flours in the freezer.

Bill

goetter's picture
goetter

I thought you /were/ the eccentric sifter.... 

Wow.  You and proth5 are really taking this places.  Tempering in particular is completely new to me.  I'd be a little shy about adding any water to grain that's going to touch my millstones, but I see y'all are on top of that.

Your tempering contraption is truly Goldberg-esque.  I love the vises used as counterweights.

The proof, as always, is in those lovely loaves you've photographed.

Thanks for sharing the fun.  I've been away from my mill too long this month; "you're like Jerry Lewis-- you give me hope to carry on" (Penny Priddy).

Ben

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Ben,

Right, it looks like the Meadows Sifter will be the third eccentric sifter in the house, not the second. The video of the rotisserie tempering was too funny and had to be put in a video.

I don't think the tempering makes much difference unless you intend to sift out some of the bran, as I have in this odd quest for "artisan-milled high extraction flour". Proth5 mentioned the term artisan milling, which I would like to adopt for this somewhat beyond conventional home milling process.

The loaves did turn out well. The baking quality, resulting texture, and flavor were more than I had hoped for, given my first two tries were hard to distinguish from whole wheat breads, although they rose a little more, maybe.

Thanks for sharing your advice on the Retsel, which I use regularly for grinding very fine flour when I want whole grain rye or wheat. It kicked off all this activity, which has been a lot of fun, if not completely practical in every respect, at least not yet. I still hope to settle into a good practical routine that allows customized flours of various grades to be produced from a collection of a few buckets of different wheat, rye, and spelt berries. That may be facilitated by the Meadows "eccentric sifter". If not, it has been an amazingly educational experience, if nothing else.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Be careful with this.  My first attempt resulted in a very long cleanup process for my grinding plates. My mill claims to be able to handle oily and damp materials.  I found out - no.

Unscientifically, the grain should be "dry to the touch."

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat, 

That's a very important point.

The Meadows Mill representative was very concerned when I mentioned going up as high as 14% moisture content, which I did by adding about 3.5% water by weight to the grain that tested at 10.6% moisture content before tempering. He definitely felt 14% was too high, although I was able to put it through the mill at a coarse setting without any ill effects.

It felt ever so slightly damp to the touch, almost undetectable, but maybe I should have let it temper for longer. I did the addition of water in two batches, first 2%, then another 1.5% after that. I may not have waited long enough after the addition of the second 1.5%. Fortunately it all worked out, but I will probably temper to something like 13% moisture content the next time.

Bill

fleur-de-liz's picture
fleur-de-liz

Bill:

Have been avidly following these discussions and have a few questions/observations. Is tempering done when the grain is first processed after harvesting or when it is prepared for milling? For some reason, and I can't substantiate this, I thought that tempering was part of the initial processing of the grain. If so, then perhaps the grain that we get is already tempered?

Also, and, again, my knowledge of this is extremely limited, I thought tempering of the grain was needed for roller milling, but not for stone milling. When I have seen the term "tempering" used, I thought it referred to lowering the moisture content of the grain through some aging of the grain, not adding moisture to it.

I don't think for your flours that have some germ and bran still in that you have to worry about adding malt. I think that is a problem only with white flours. But, if you feel you need to add malt, I know I've read somewhere about how much to add in and would be glad to try to find the reference.

Regarding aging, I aged some freshly milled red winter wheat for about two weeks at room temperature in a brown paper bag because the wheat originally tasted and smelled very grassy to me. The two week aging period definitely improved the taste of the flour. To compare, I later purchased smaller quantities of red spring wheat that tasted fine immediately after milling. I am concerned about having to age freshly milled flour as it seems to negate the health benefits of milling. I did hear from a representative at Heartland that last year's wheat crop was poor because the growing conditions were too good. Apparently, wheat thrives under poor growing conditions. Perhaps the organic winter wheat that I have just isn't very good quality. The rye that I have been milling, however, has been superb.

My very primitive sifting process is with a 24 mm stainless steel sieve. It is very lightweight as it is in a plastic sleeve. I purchased it from J.B. Prince. I think we figured out that the gauge of the mesh is somewhat akin to your #60 sieve. It definitely removes all the very hard and coarse particles, probably the bran..

The one thing that I have noticed is that whole wheat milled on my Nutrimill has kind of a sandy texture even on the finest setting. The texture is somewhat improved with sifting, but not completely. It never has that soft, fluffy texture of commercially milled flour. How is the texture of your flour using the Retsel and the Meadows Mill?

Just some ramblings from a novice....

Liz

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Liz,

I had the same thought that tempering was already done at the mill before the berries were delivered to me. However, even if that were true, Pat rightly points out that you can't really be sure what the wheat berry moisture content would be, depending on shipment methods and storage methods both before and after delivery. Also, in the reading I did in Wheat Flour Milling by Posner and Hibbs, it was clear that tempering is normally done just before milling to adjust the moisture content to optimal conditions for milling. Apparently there is an ideal moisture content that will strengthen the bran and soften the endosperm such that they separate well during the milling process. It is clear from my discussions with the representative at Meadows Mills that the correct moisture content ought to be lower for a stone mill than was implied in the reading I did that was probably focused on roller milling. Nonetheless, it seems to me the reasoning would apply to either method, even if the ideal moisture content would differ from one milling method to another.

In practice, tempering made a definite difference to the quality of the bran I was able to separate. With tempering, I definitely had a softer, purer bran that was sifted out with a coarse sieve (#25 and #40 depending on which pass) without anywhere near as much white, hard material attached to it. Also, I was able to separate lower ash content flour at higher yields than without tempering. Granted this was only one test, but the results were very much in line with the explanations in the reading I did.

I'm sure the term tempering can be applied to increasing or decreasing the moisture content at various stages in the cleaning and conditioning process. However, the tempering Pat and I are referring to in previous posts is the tempering done to increase the moisture content to strengthen the bran and soften the innards of the berry, done typically 8-24 hours before milling.

I suspect you're right that no malting is needed unless the much lower ash content flours extracted in passes 3 and 4 of the milling process is used to make bread. One of these times, I'll have to see what a "white bread" would be like made from those bins of flour, but I used all of the flours blended together this time.

I haven't noticed any problems with the flavor of wheat flour milled and used immediately so far. I've only used what I think is some HRW wheat from Wheat Montana (not their Bronze Chief or Prairie Gold - the other product) and the Heartland Mill "Milling Wheat" product, which I think is also HRW, so my experience is very limited, obviously.

So far, like you, I'm not seeing an obvious benefit to aging with the few things I've tried in the early going. Maybe I would see more benefit, once again, if I tried this on white flour output from the process. However, since I prefer breads made with higher extraction flour, I may not get around to trying it for a long time.

When you say a 24mm stainless sieve, what is the 24mm number? I'm still curious to try to make sure we're talking about the same thing. The #60 I've been using is quoted to have 250 micron (.25 millimeter) openings. The output seems to be a fine flour with only minor amounts of dark material in it. I've discovered from the ash test, though, that the variation is very large in how much of the darker material is in the #60 siftings from the various passes all the way from something like .7% to 1.5% ash content. I was surprised to see that the ash content could be so high for a flour that had a golden color only a little different in appearance and texture from the cream color of flours with ash content around 1% or the off-white flours with ash content around .7%. However, I'm sure that golden flour would behave much more like a whole wheat flour than a white flour, based on some of my earlier tries.

I don't have experience with the Nutrimill or other hammer style mills. Of my two stone mills, the Retsel is capable of a very fine flour on the first pass. I would say it's close to the degree of fineness I'd see in a commercially stone milled whole wheat flour, like Heartland Mill Whole Wheat. The Meadows Mill, after 3-4 passes creates flour that is similarly fairly fine, but the first pass flour, even at the finest setting, is also more "sandy". However, the output of the #60 sieve is again fairly fine, even for flour extracted from a sandy, coarse first pass out of the Meadows Mill.

I'm surprised at what you say about the Nutrimill because I had envisioned the flour from a Nutrimill would be very fine on the first pass. I don't know if tempering would hurt or help with that style of mill. Maybe someone will comment on the ideal moisture content for that style of mill, if someone knows. I think the extremely fine Wheat Montana whole wheat flours, like Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief Whole Wheat Flours are hammer milled, and I had imagined the Nutrimill would create similar flour at its finest setting.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and ideas. It helps to compare notes. Too bad we can't put them side-by-side and compare.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Held back my humble opinion as the questions were directed to Bill, not me. But...

Tempering is the process by which the moisture content in wheat is adjusted to the correct % for milling.  Typically moisture must be added, but in rare cases it might be subtracted. It has often been claimed that a large difference between European flours and US flours is that European millers temper their wheat longer than US millers - so that's what started me down this road. 

I looked up some information on the Nutrimill and I would be very cautious about adding moisture to wheat prior to milling.  My first attempt made a very bad mess of my mill - only because it is completely non-electric and I can fully disassemble it could I recover.

The Bread Beckers has a forum on Nutrimill and they seem to have access to folks who know what is going on - if you want to inquire there.  My guess is that they will express astonishment that a home miller wants to temper wheat...

If I send the results of my finest grind through the Diamant twice, I do get fluffy flour like commercial mills (and, this is after tempering...).  Because I am currently hand cranking the mill, I do not have trouble with overheating and if it did heat up, I could just crank more slowly.

Hope this helps.

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

Please feel free to post a response whether I've gotten in my 2 cents or not. I appreciate the concern, but your information has been highly relevant to this thread and very useful to me, and I'm sure to others.

I was unaware of the general difference in tempering techniques in Europe vs. the US. I suppose that's one of the reasons Heartland Mill has emphasized longer tempering times they now use, mentioned in a discussion on their web site.

I'd be interested to hear what the right moisture content should be for a Nutrimill, if that is discovered by someone following this discussion. I can imagine the answer might be very different for an impact mill.

The Retsel Mil-Rite turns quite slowly and is capable of being hand-cranked, although I haven't tried it. However, at the very finest setting it develops some heat between the stones, and the electric motor gets quite warm as well. However, at that finest setting, only one pass is sufficient to get a fine flour. Goetter has much more experience with it, so maybe he has some further insight.

The Meadows Mill turns at a much higher rate, but the output of the mill seems to stay cooler than the Retsel, surprisingly, probably because of the short time required to mill 2Kg of grain or flour, as I was doing. The only warmth I noticed was with the 14% moisture content with whole grain on my initial pass through the mill. I doubt that will happen the next time, if I use a moiture content of 13% or below. Although the milling goes very quickly and coolly with the Meadows, the first output even at the finest setting doesn't seem like fine flour. It takes another pass or two - more like three total passes seemed right to me - to get it to a fine whole grain flour comparable to what you might purchase. Although it would take three passes, my guess is it would take significantly less total time for the three passes than the Retsel's one pass would take.

Bill

 

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Thanks.  I respect that most of you-all have been posting for some time and I'm a newbee, sometimes I get so interested that I can't help myself.

I suppose that somewhere along the line I should have mentioned that the Diamant uses steel burrs, not stone.  This is somewhat unusual and most people's eyes sort of glaze over when I tell them I have a fairly high speed hand turned mill that uses steel burrs.  I thought a lot about this before buying the mill, but was won over by the claims that it could handle oily ingredients.

I do like the mill - it grinds very fast (I can crack a pound of wheat in 5 mins and could fine grind in 5 mins if I were fit enough not to have to rest), very quietly and is, frankly, a very beautiful and beautifully made piece of low tech equipment.  However, if I knew it was going to go this far (I thought that I just wanted some kind of generic "fresh ground wheat flour" - ha!) I would have gone for a motorized stone burr mill.

Which brings up the discussion of steel vs stone grinding.  The primary advantage of stone grinding is that it keeps the wheat at a lower temperature.  But, (and yes, now I will need to measure this...) I don't see that my flour is getting warm at all, so I'm not sure there should be any issue. 

I should also mention that my "finest" setting is not the finest for the mill.  I can set the mill finer and it will grind, but I cannot really turn it, if you know what I mean.  Remilling the results of sifting one grind at the "finest" setting gives me a silky flour - no gritty feeling at all.  I am not sure if with a Nutrimill this would be possible.

I look forward to reading about the adventures with the new sifter.  I continue to cudgel my brains to figure out how to get some of the other flour analysis tests done on the "home milled."  Yes, your baking results show that all is going well, but it would be a kick to see how these various flours stand up to the numbers that commercial bakers demand.

goetter's picture
goetter

Well, I still lust in my heart after the Diamant, so I guess we're even.  (Didn't have a place to mount it.)

I don't think any human-muscle-powered mill is capable of heating flour to any appreciable extent.  You just can't emit enough wattage.  The primary advantage of stone (as opposed to low-speed steel burr) grinding is a finer grind theoretically possible.  Both of our mills are cool-running.

The flour pssing through my Retsel does gets warm when milled fine, but not to a dangerous extent.  As a test, I milled 300g of rye berries into fine flour.  The temperature of the berries was 61F entering the mill (I keep them too close to a window. Outdoor temp right now: -6F, brrr), and the temperature of the flour falling out of the mill was 81F.

proth5's picture
proth5

I ruthlessly drilled through a maple table top (ok - granted - one purchased long ago at a home improvement store and bolted to an old treadle sewing machine base, but still...) to mount the Diamant and have no regrets.  Just to make the Diamant envy worse - I was about to pay full retail for the thing, when I thought "Look on e-bay."  A new, still in packing grease Diamant was up for auction - which doesn't happen every day.  So I even got it at a bargain price.

I don't know about the fine grinding.  I don't even have the fine grind plates in the thing and I'm getting some pretty fine flour.  Next chance I get to mill I'm going to do some finer sifting to see what really comes out of the process.

Agree in principle on the heating, but can't resist checking anyway. 

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Nice video. Tempering, schmempering - you had to get that thing going.

Let's talk some milling variables now.  Tempering toughens the bran so that you can get a cleaner separation from the endosperm.  Since tempering at higher temperatures takes less time, it is resonable to speculate that at a constant temperature, time would be the factor that determines how cleanly the bran separates. Do you agree? Your results seem to bear this out, but I could be all wet. (Or at least a 14% moisture content...) 

I hope to be able to do a long temper (3 days)on my next batch and I'll let you know if in my little hand operation I sense a difference 

Yet another variable is protein quality - which is higher the at the center of the wheat berry - so, given the very same grain, a process that gets flour from the heart of the wheat will result in better gluten development in the bread than the one that gets flour from the full berry.  I believe that you might be able to measure this with a Pekar test - which is really just mounding flour on a piece of plate glass and carefully wetting it down.  The Pekar test tests the "whiteness" of the flour.  I'm being a bit lazy not to look this up right now, but is the whiter flour the lower quality of protein or the other way around?  Something to research.  It sounds like a simple test, but flours that "look" the same dry are dramatically different at the end of a Pekar test.  Given the simplicity of the test equipment, it is something you might want to try - or I might want to try once I'm milling again.

But, the bread is beautiful.  I am increasingly inspired to continue my hand milling efforts by your results.

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Well, maybe that video is more entertaining than useful. It gives a sense of the scale, though. The stuff is not as big as it seems when you first look at the photos and think through the weight and how in the world to get the thing from the truck to the workshop. It certainly doesn't feel daunting to do the next session, now that I've got the thing more or less wired. I figured out where the "missing product" went, too.

I don't know if it's a design flaw or a missing piece of wood, but the bottom sieve had a slit in a spot that allowed a lot of the flour that should have gone to the 26 mesh exit to instead drop into the wood box at the very bottom. So, I discovered about 450g of "cream of wheat" granules hiding out in the cavity underneath everything. I constructed a small piece of wood to match up with the slit, and now you get a lot more #26 product coming through like it's supposed to.

I also discovered the top sieve may have some trouble emptying out the stuff that goes through the 60 mesh sieve. It may just be that I didn't let it operate quite long enough. I also suspect it may be a matter of spending some time making sure the sifter is level, or even ever so slightly tilted to favor the #60 exit. That's for next time.

I need to re-read the chapters on milling, sifting, and testing in that text book I got. I'm not sure where the best protein comes from. That's why I wanted to test a few different batches from my sifting process. I know some of the batches have proportionally more ash than others, but it would be good to know the other important qualities, too.

With some good testing and a little more fine tuning, it feels like this could become a fairly simple and fast routine. Then only part that isn't is the tempering. I have to add it to the process timing and get used to the idea that this must be done a good 24 hours before milling time. It isn't that big a deal, since I would probably also ideally want to refresh my culture around then. I just need to get used to the timing.

Bill

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

I ended up sending a bunch of samples to CII Lab. I posted some of the results in a new blog entry. You might be interested in taking a look. I'm not sure I explained it clearly enough, so let me know if you need further details or clarification.

The essence of it is that at 1/6 turn to around 1/8 turn, which is when the mill stones are separated by about 1/4 to 1/6 of the thickness of a wheat berry, it seems to create a good separation between three basic products, some bran, a large quantity of fairly low ash (.8%) white granules, and a medium quantity of medium to high ash (1.25%) flour. At 1/12 of a turn or more, which is fairly fine for the first pass, you get far less bran, far less white granules, and a larger quantity of medium ash (about .9%) flour somewhat like Golden Buffalo on the first pass.

I extracted fairly low ash white flour from the low ash granules in the 1/6 turn first pass. The resulting flour was tested and found to be somewhat low in tolerance to mixing, suggesting there is something missing in the gluten when sifted out that way. However, I think a very good flour in the range of about .85% ash content would result from mixing that flour with some of the much higher protein flour in the first pass or later passes.

So, I haven't found a way to make a whiter flour with ash content closer to .5%, like roller milled white bread flour. However, I wasn't really expecting to, nor is it an important objective. What is exciting is that I can create a range from probably around .8% on up to 1.6% of freshly milled artisan flours with varying degrees of color from off-white to whole grain and with very reasonable overall yields.

At some point I'm going to try to do a similar set of test milling and lab tests with Wheat Montana Bronze Chief and Prairie Gold berries to see how it goes with higher protein harder berries.

Bill