The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

home-milled flour performing badly

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roberta's picture
roberta

home-milled flour performing badly

I recently fulfilled a desire of many years to own a grain mill and my bread has never looked worse! The loaves are squat, dense and difficult to slice. The dough feels heavy and unresponsive when I knead, even after 20 minutes. It rises rapidly for a short time, then stops--after 30-45 minutes for the first rise, and 20 max for the second and third rises. It doesn't double in volume. There is no oven-spring.

 I'm milling hard red wheat (that's all I know about it, not where it came from or whether it's Winter or Spring wheat, etc). The yeast bubbles energetically when proofed. I've tried both sponge and straight dough methods with the same disappointing results. I  love the flavor of the freshly-milled flour but I so want a lighter, better looking loaf. Can anybody help?

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Are you using all fresh milled flour? If so, try 50% white bread flour, 50% fresh milled. If that works, try 60% fresh milled, then 70% - I find that 100% doesn't work as well, but I can go to about 75% and I'll settle for a compromise like that to get a well risen, open crumb loaf with the amazing flavour that fresh milled flour brings.
Andrew

roberta's picture
roberta

Thank you  for your comment. Yes, I've been using 100% home-milled flour. I guess I may have to lower my standards a bit and include some unbleached flour. It will still be better than anything I  could buy. I'll try it this weekend.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Hmmmm. I can think of two potential causes:

  1. Not enough water: Home milled flour can be much more absorbant than store-bought flour. You might want to try using more water.
  2. Poor quality wheat berries: You may have gotten wheat berries that are low in gluten. You might try ordering a small amount of hard spring wheat from somewhere like King Arthur Flour and see how that works for you.

 

cuorechen's picture
cuorechen

life is as firm and chewy as a good bread crumb
Hello!
As far as I know, flour has to be rested for at least a few weeks after freshly milled, in a mixing bowl with a lid. In addition, after the rest period, you may need to sift your home milled flour a little bit so as to remove a certain amount of the ash content.
By doing so, you may have your ideal flour for making a wholemeal bread.
Good luck to your experiment!

qahtan's picture
qahtan

 

 This apply's to  white flour.

Whole wheat is best to use as soon it is milled. Do not keep it a few weeks.

I try to mill about the amount I want for a recipe, any overs I keep in the fridge, but not for very long...... qahtan 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I agree with qahtan - fresh milled flour is best used as soon as you can. The flavour is amazing - and begins to fade quite quickly. I mill every week and the first loaf is the best!
Andrew
Also, I don't sieve the flour. Use it all.

cuorechen's picture
cuorechen

life is as firm and chewy as a good bread crumb
Thank you, gahtan and andrew. So, is it better just mixing home milled flour with some unbleached white if I want a lighter texture?
Flour is really a problem for a serious baker in my country-Taiwan. The weather here is not suitable for growing wheat. Too wet and too hot!  The millers are also terrible. The only quality flour I can count on is the organic one. 
However, imported organic flour is quite expensive. I always daydream to have my own windmill first before I could even have a small bakery.
Cory

roberta's picture
roberta

Thank you everybody. I agree that I want to use the flour soon after milling. My flour is falling from between the stones of my Retsel as I mix the dough--to be added a cup at a time. The flavor is amazing.

I've taken both of the suggestions--I added a little unbleached flour to my latest loaf--it would only take about 3 tablespoons as this was a last minute decision--but even that little made a difference. That loaf was a little lighter with no noticable loss of flavor. Next time I'll add more. I've also ordered some grain from eastern Washington (I live in Seattle) that's guaranteed to have 13% protein. If it performs better I'll order more and mix it with the local stuff. I didn't find whole grains in the KAF catalogue. Did I miss them?

npsmama's picture
npsmama

I aim to use 100% home milled flour too.

 

So far I have had good results with recipes from Laurel's kitchen Bread Book and Marilyn's Famous Wholwheat bread http://articles.urbanhomemaker.com/index.php?page=index_v2&id=83&c=6

 

Happy milling! 

Loafer's picture
Loafer

First, that rise is too fast, you could be "crashing" the dough.  Cut back on the yeast.  Quick rises yield poor flavor anyways, and I assume you are using the home-milled flour for both health and flavor reasons.  So take it slow!

Second,  there is no discussion above about your mill.  It is possible that your mill is not grinding fine enough, or is overheating the flour.  Both of which can contribute to the symptoms you describe.  What mill are you using?  If you are just getting used to it, maybe you aren't getting it adjusted to its finest setting?  I have a Corona mill, which is cheap, and is totally useless for actual flour.  It is great for making additives to a partially store-bought flour loaf, but useless to make flour fine enough for a whole meal bread.

 -Toby K.

roberta's picture
roberta

Thanks Toby, but I don't think I have a problem with too much yeast--I've never used more than 1 tablespoon for 2 loaves; with the sponge method I use only 1 teaspoon for the same recipe. My mill is a Retsel (mentioned in my last post). It does not overheat the flour; it's a slow-grinding mill. The flour is powder fine on the tightest setting, though it has flecks of bran in it.

mbrown's picture
mbrown

For great information, please see www.breadbeckers.com.  The freshly milled flour is not the problem.  I use that for everything from loaves of bread to biscuits.  Alterations have to be made, sometimes, but not by adding plain flour.  The benefits of the freshly milled flour will be lost. 

When making loaves of bread, I use a mixture of hard red, hard white, oat groats and add ground flax seeds (don't grind flax seed in your grain mill).