The Fresh Loaf

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Ok now I am hooked -the next step

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Aprea's picture
Aprea

Ok now I am hooked -the next step

Hi fellow foodies!


After being at this for the last 2 months I have finally found my passion.  My whole life has been focused on achieving a healthy balance - my first passion beyond family is good whole food that enhances our lives, rather than weighing us down - digestively and energetically.


My question for you is - how worth it would having a high quality mixer like a DLX be?  After studying this forum, along with as many books I can find - it seems that it may actually be worth it to grind my own flour.   The idea of mail ordering flour does not sit well with me - because by the time I get around to using all the whole wheat it will use a great deal of nutrition.  If I order the wheat berries in bulk - I could justify the cost because it is actually cheaper if I grind it myself, and healthier.


I also make fresh pasta, and homemade smoothies.  Is it hard to learn how to grind your own flour?  And is it possible to achieve the same kind of flour as french flour?  I definitely want to focus on whole grain, but we all enjoy a crusty french baguette fairly often.


We are not huge on deserts - but I do bake cookies, and never buy storebought.  I am cooking for 6 - 6 breadhounds.  We have been through25 pounds of flour in the last 2 weeks (of course some of that was gift giving of fresh bread) - 


Thank you for any thoughts - 


Anna


 

proth5's picture
proth5

Home milling can range anywhere from getting an impact mill and milling your own whole wheat flour to having a vast array of equipment such as moisture meters, mills and sifters.


An impact mill is probably the easiest, most affordable, and most popular.  As for mastering the rest -well, I'll let you know when I have (don't wait up nights...).


I've found home milling to be a satisfying sort of project and highly recommend it.  There are many books that can guide you through simple home milling - or you can just rely on the folks at TFL.


Trying to achieve a French type flour will be a stupendous undertaking for a home miller as this would be attempting to mill a white flour (minus bran and germ.)  It can be done, but with much effort.  You would need to go the whole nine yards - tempering, multi step milling, sifting and ash content testing (and possibly a few rounds of sending your flour to a lab for analysis).  Oh, and aging. A white flour will need to be aged for 3-4 weeks prior to use.  If you don't know about things like tempering and flour rheology, you will want to learn.  You might need access to some technical milling texts.  You will be working to about 70% extraction, so 30% of your milling effort will not result in flour.  It cannot be done with an impact mill and at your rate of use would require a motorised burr mill. I won't say it can't be done - because obviously it can - but you might want to concentrate your milling efforts on whole wheat or near whole wheat products to get a better return from your efforts.   Also, unless you get wheat berries flown in from France, the best you can do will be an approximation of French flour. 


I would advise you to consider your  goals and available time, energy and cash flow and start out with a setup that will give you some satisfaction, good food, and fun.  If you find you can't resist - you can always expand.


Hope this helps

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Wow - that sounds like too much for me to process at this point.  I guess that answers my question if I am trying to achieve French flours.  The next question is how cumbersome is it too grind your own wheat for whole wheat flours?  Many on these forums have said that the taste is much better than storebought flours.


 


 

proth5's picture
proth5

See the other answer to your question.


If you are after a simple whole wheat flour, it should be easy and rewarding to grind it using an impact mill, as so many do.  There is much more written about this for the home miller so there should be many good resources including these pages.


The taste of fresh ground flour is wonderful and you will not easily go back to commercial whole wheat after you try it.


I get all of my grain from Bob's Red Mill - and even with shipping costs I consider it to be well worth it.  However, I use nowhere near the amount of flour that you are using.


Grinding white flours is a challenge for the home miller and I didn't mean to discourage you.  I am actually working on getting together a milling schedule and some of the additional equipment (...need to pull together the equipment to measure ash content...) to mill white flour.  It can be done.  However, from the body of your post I guessed that you might find it more rewarding to stick with whole grains.


Happy Milling!

Aprea's picture
Aprea

The links were very interesting.  It led me to wonder whether I am trying to achieve good bread quality or high nutrition quality.  My ideal of course is delicious tasting bread which also meets high standards of nutrition.  


Presently I am working on a standard whole wheat loaf that will work for my family - as a regular lunchtime enjoyable bread.  Kind of like the delicious breads that are so popular at the breakfast cafes in Southern California.


I stopped buying supermarket bread and we have been going through lots of flour to feed my breadhounds.  I think in the long run, if I can achieve a good whole grain loaf, that we will save money buy milling at home.  Heavens knows during these economic times we all have to find ways to be more resourceful.


 


Thank you for your comments and thoughts...  I love this place!

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you for the clarification regarding milling white flours.  I am actually still very interested in achieving the same thing.  Please keep us posted on your discoveries.  To have the ability to achieve white flours with varying levels of ash would be a home bakers dream.


 


Good luck!  I am going to keep working on my recipes, and save for a mill/mixer like DLX.  Or a different kind of mill according to suggestions such as yours.

proth5's picture
proth5

My goal from the very start of my milling days was to learn to mill any type of flour that I wanted - including white flour.  I am admittedly a maniac and I would never be happy with anything less.


However, with that goal in mind I have had to immerse myself in a lot of study and expensive equipment.  My challenge is to learn the trade well enough without going all out and buying things like eccentric sifters as bwraith has done.  (For now, for now...) I recently purchased a Delmhorst G7 moisture meter.  This is a significant investment just to be able to measure and adjust my grain moisture.  I can see the change in my milling, though, and I consider it well worth it, because my goal is "any type of flour."  It would be a crazy purchase for someone whose goal it is to "feed my family delicious, whole grain products."


My mill is a steel burr, hand cranked mill (which can be motorized.)  (It is a Diamant, and you may have heard that I love it.  I do.  I love my mill.  However, if you take a look at the current price of the thing in the Lehman's catalog, you may wish to  consider other mills) My milling process actually does yield white flour (I mix the finely ground bran back in to get the high extraction flour) but with hand cranking it takes some effort to get enough white flour to actually bake (and then, you still have to age the stuff...) so my limiting factors are time and physical energy.


Milling as I do is excellent exercize and I am gaining the physical strength to do larger milling runs.  My personal schedule has also changed a bit, so I am thinking this is a good time to push the "white flour project."


I did not realize that the DLX is also a mill.  I did a quick check on the Pleasant Hill Grain website and didn't see a reference to milling with it.  I fell in love with the Diamant at first sight (not quite, but almost) so I didn't do much research into other types of mills.  I have heard that Pleasant Hill Grain is a good source of information and that they good folks to work with.


Hope this is helpful.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

The DLX has an attachment that you can purchase for around $150 - although I have not read too much from people around this site that use this device.  


 


Just out of curiosity, do what method of gluten development to you use?  I personally prefer a combo of french folds - breaks, rests and folds.  When I don't have time I throw it in the regrig for overnite retard - then use a few french folds, proof and bake.  The reason why I ask, is that I actually enjoy this method.  It works for me - I have several recipes going at various stages - it is kind of like raising kids!  


 


If I chose to skip the DLX and invest in a hand crank mill - it may be a fun alternative to something electric - I can see running the mill outside on the back pato on a beautiful morning.  I am not into things that have to be plugged in - which is why I never had a bread machine.

janij's picture
janij

I have a Nutrimill and a Country Living mill.  There is nothing long with the Nutrimill but it is LOUD!!!!!!  I am actually thinking of selling it becasue it is so loud and it is a pain to clean.  Well  not a pain but the cleaning takes a lot of time.  I love the Country Living Mill.  I have the cheater bar and can crank 1 lb of flour in about 10 min.  And it is not really all that hard.  If you decide to get a hand crank, look into the Country Living Mill.  They are expensive- about $500 or so.  But I think it was worth it.  Now I just have to find a place to sell the Nutrimill.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you for the advice - It sounds like what I want after reading about it.  What are your favorite types of recipes that you grind your flour for?

janij's picture
janij

I have a favorite "white" bread recipe that I add it to and make our daily bread. 


For 4 loaves  You can cut this in 1/2 for 2.  But I make 4, cool, slice and freeze.


5 1/3 c water


1/2 c sugar I use brown sugar


1/2-1 c dry milk


1/2 c fat I use olive oil


5 t salt


2 T yeast


16 c flour ( I use at least 2 c oatmeal and 2 c fresh ground flour hard white or red wheat)


This is you standard straight dough.  Mix, knead.  Let rise 1-2 hrs.  I do 2 and fold the dough once at the half mark.  Pan and rise about 1-1 1/2 hrs.  Bake at 375 for about 40 min.


I also like Hamelman's Mulitgrainand 40% Caraway Rye.  These are the standard loaves in our house.  I would just start with a recipe that works well for you and then start adding in a portion of fresh ground flour and see how it goes.  I normally mix the hard red and white 50/50.  I am kind of new to milling as wel, but it is not that hard.  You may have to add more water, but just check once the dough come together and  go from there. 


Like the others her I don't mind doing the hand crank.  It is not that hard.  And the Nutrimill isn't bad if you lock it in the garage and move far away!!!

proth5's picture
proth5

With the exception of bagels, where I do use my older Kitchen Aid, I use the "fold in the bowl" technique on the elusive page 249 of "Bread, etc"  and has been reproduced on these pages.


When working with larger amounts of dough, I have hand cranked dough buckets (they are no longer made, unfortunately), but apply the same general technique.


If you like hand cranked devices, and don't have a fear of spending money, let me refer you to the Lehman's catalog (or website) where you can purchase what is essentially a hand cranked Bosch mixer.


Frankly, I wouldn't buy a mixer if all I made was bread and cookies.  The gadgeteer in me would like a high end, top of the line mixer (really what I want is a spiral mixer, but I must wait, I must wait...) but I can't justify it as long as my current mixer is working.  I do other types of baking and confectionary work that require a mixer, so that's why I have the Kitchen Aid. 


A quality hand cranked mill is a once in a lifetime purchase, but with the amount of flour that you use, that's a lot of cranking.  With my method of milling, it takes me about an hour to mill 2 pounds of wheat.  Much of that time is sifting and evaluating, but it's a lot of work. I am not of a romantic bent about my tasks, I can gaze out on my koi while I mill, but it is still hard work.  Do not kid yourself. You need to commit to the process or you will have purchased a dust catcher.  Of course, if you have many bread hounds you can guide them to putting their hands to the grinding.


Hope this helps.


 


 

Aprea's picture
Aprea

That really is a lot of time!  I would have figured that it takes less time - I am going to keep track how much flour we actually consume in one week - and then figure out how much time it would take to crank that amount.  It seems like the electric mills do not give you as much flexibility or control of the size or type of flour you are milling - I would probably let that turn into a dust catcher.


 


The idea of hand cranking is still appealing - but it may not be that realistic if I need to be cranking for more than an hour several times a week.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I have a small hand crank mill that I use for supplementary work.  If I need just a little bit more bread flour, or even a couple cups soft wheat for pancakes, it works well.  But I've tried milling a couple cups hard wheat, and it's no fun.


But maybe something with a large wheel will work better than that.  Mine is very small.  But I've heard - maybe read somewhere on this forum - that people find it tiresome anyway and eventually switch to something electric.


I recommend the NutriMill.  I haven't heard any quieter options other than hand-crank, which has it limitations.


Rosalie

proth5's picture
proth5

Remember, I am making 5 or so passes through the mill so that I can separate out the bran/germ.  The time to put 2 pounds of wheat through the mill once is about 10 minutes. Now.  After I've been milling for awhile.  In the beginning it was longer since I simply had to rest every now and again (I am not young, but I'm pretty strong)  If you want to do any kind of "white flour" milling you will need to do the multiple passes.  For what I call "hippie whole wheat" - one or two passes will do. If you decide to hand mill and you are not as fit as you should be (and I am not)(I am also "not young") you need to commit to the effort that it will take to get yourself in "milling shape."


My mill will be motorised "someday" when I want to do a greater volume.  This was a consideration when I bought my mill.


Both the Diamant and the Country Living use flywheels to make the grinding go more easily.  The "power bar" on the Country Living makes turning the mill easier, but not faster.  The cast iron flywheel on the Diamant allows for easier/faster grinding as you can get some good momentum built up.  I believe that there is a real advantage to the cast iron flywheel - but again, you have to consider the fabulous price of the Diamant in the equation.


Also, with the Diamant for certain and perhaps with other hand cranked mills, you will need to find a surface where you can bolt down the mill.  In particular with the Diamant, once bolted down, that's where the mill will live - it is too heavy to move around.  One of the reasons that I am so happy with my Diamant is that it is so beautiful.  And it had better be because it's in plain view in my kitchen all the time.


Mike Avery is of the opinion that people won't stick with hand crank milling.  Mike and I disagree, sometimes.  I think if you commit to it and enjoy the physicality of using muscle power to produce food, you can stick with it.  But a mill is a big purchase and you should be realistic about what you will do and how much time you have to devote to milling. 


I couldn't use an impact mill.  The quiet ones are said to sound as loud as a vacuum cleaner - I couldn't take that kind of noise, either.


Hope this helps.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

That all makes sense -  too bad I can't rent one for a while to see how it works out before making a commitment.  I think I am going to sit on this for a while.


 


Thank you all for your input.  


 


 

proth5's picture
proth5

Seriously, if you are ever passing through the Denver, CO area I would be happy to try and arrange for you to spend some time milling a couple pounds of flour on my mill. Then you will know what you are upagainst.


I didn't mean to be off-putting, but it is a big investment.  I thought about it for a year before taking the plunge. It's been a fun ride for me, but I'm glad I put in the thought.


Pat

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you very much!  I can tell we are a lot alike.  This is something I seriously want to consider - if I am going to put time and treasure into something - it has to be good and it has to be worthwhile.  Life is too precious.  Good bread for good life!


 


Take care and keep us posted on your discoveries...

shakleford's picture
shakleford

I noticed your mention that electric mills do not offer much flexibility, and I wanted to offer a little more explanation.  The more common type of electric mill is the impact or micronizing mill - the Nutrimill that's been mentioned several times in this thread is probably the most common example.  However, there are also electric mills that use the old-fashioned stone-grinding method.  As a well-satisfied user of one of these (the KoMo Fidibus 21), I can say that these will definitely produce anything from cracked grain to fine-milled flour.


I have no experiencing with impact mills or with hand-crank mills, so I won't try to offer a comparison there; I just wanted to point out that you can have both electric power and grinding flexibility.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you for your reply - I never heard of this line - looked into it and it looks like a very appealing mill.  Is it possible to pass through flour more than once - or is possible to create "first clear" type flour using something like this?  Or is this actually what would originally be called first clear?  


 


My understanding is that you would run it through on a course level, and then use a specified mesh for sifting to achieve "first clear".  Is that right?

proth5's picture
proth5

I'm glad motorised burr mills got put back into the equation.  They got lost in this long and wandering thread.


I've been thinking a lot about how I would mill first clear flour.  On a very elementary level, you could crack the grain and then put the results through a fine seive to get the very small amount of flour that results (I've tried this and it is a very small amount.) First clear is only a fraction of the endosperm - the part closest to the pericarp - and so has a higher ash content than the rest of the available flour.


I would need to do ash testing to see where in the milling process I stop getting clear flour and I'm just about ready to do this.  bwraith has worked out a method that requires easily obtained equipment and I'm adding that to my "need to purchase" list.  (OK, mill, seives, grain moisture meter, total dissolved solids meter.  I think this is it.  The rest of the equipment like a farinograph or a Falling Number tester is just too pricey for the home miller...)


The problem that I am finding is that what we are doing with our burr mills is trying to simulate the process used by commercial roller mills.  Commercial milling uses a series of specially designed rolls - with smaller spaces between the rolls as the process moves on - and gets a number of streams out of the milling process.  These are then blended (or not) to get various types of flour. (So if you are buying standard commercial whole wheat flour, it is flour that has been milled through the commercial process and then reassembled to make it look like whole wheat.  When you get stone ground flour, it is really the whole grain ground up.) Our little process of milling and sifting simulates this, but not as efficiently or effectively.  Getting and keeping the bran (and germ) out of the process is a challenge.  We do not want finely ground bran to make it through our seives into our "clear" flour.


This is where a process called tempering comes into play.  This process adds moisture to the wheat berries and allows them to rest to adjust moisture content and toughen the bran.  Commercially this is often done using a method called steam tempering which is more complex technologically, but is faster.  At home, I simply add water (not too much...) to the wheat I am going to mill and agitate the container.  I take moisture level readings and adjust it so that the moisture content is close to, but not above 13%.  This "cold" process takes from 36 to 48 hours. A similar process is used by some specialty mills and many European mills.  This is a differentiating factor in the quality of the flour.


The first few mill passes then do a pretty good job of getting the bran out.  What I need to balance is also maximizing the yield on the white flour.  Yes, I can take two pounds of wheat berries, crack them and sift to get a couple ounces of white flour, but that's not enough of a yield.


So that's where I stand on the "white flour" project.  Tonight I am milling to get a generic white flour (since I don't yet have the equipment to measure ash content.)  I'd like to see how I can get the yield to about 70% and see if I have an issue with bran.  I'm still mulling over exactly how I will run tonight's trial.


The mill doesn't make the miller.  The advantage of electric powered burr mills is that they will grind more grain with less physical effort, but they are no more automatic than a hand turned mill.


I've gone on and on again, but there is a lot to learn about this milling stuff.  I was in my local mega-mart the other day and heard a woman griping about paying a couple bucks for 5 pounds of white flour.  I had to restrain myself from using my out loud voice to tell her that a couple bucks is a mighty small price for the miracle of white flour.


Enough... 


 

shakleford's picture
shakleford

I completely defer to proth on the matter of first clear flour (and on pretty much all milling topics, for that matter).  I'm quite happy using 100% hippie whole grain flour in most of my baking, and on the few items I make where that's not what I want, I (shamefully) use store-bought flour.


What I can mention is that I've make cracked wheat/rye, cornmeal, coarse flour, etc. with my mill.  All of these are easy, and just require one pass, plus a bit of sifting to remove the "crumbs."  The KoMo is adjustable from no grinding space (where the stones won't even turn) to more than large enough to pass entire grains through, and I believe that this is true of most burr mills.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

proth5, along with bwraith and mike avery, are experts in the home milling department. I've learned so much from all of them. But if you want to know...

Quote:
how cumbersome is it to grind your own wheat for whole wheat flours?
... my answer would be not at all. If you're using an electric mill marketed for home use, you put the grain in the hopper, turn it on, and flour emerges in the grain receptacle. The mills are quick, don't make a mess and are easy to clean.

Many TFL members who home mill use the Nutrimill electric grain mill. The next most popular grain mill is the Wondermill / Whisper Mill. These types of electric mills are known as micronizer mills. An excellent review of micronizer mills by member Mike Avery is micronizer mills and other mills for the home baker. My comments on the Nutrimill are here Nutrimill grain mill - a home baker's perspective


Almost all home millers on TFL report that the taste of home milled wheat (or rye or spelt or...) flour used within 24 hours of milling is superior to commerically milled whole grain flour. However, even if you're an experienced bread baker, working with home milled flour will probably require some practice and adjustments to your standard recipes. There are excellent recipes for whole grain breads baked in pans OR on a baking stone on this site. Some use 100% whole grain while others include some commercial white bread flour. Some are sourdough while others use commerical dry yeast. Whatever your preference, TFL is the best forum I know of for information on whole grain baking.


SOME COMMENTS ON SUPPLIES
Do you have a reliable and reasonably priced local source for whole wheat and other grains? Since you live in FL, if you're buying wheat grown regionally, you're likely to end up with hard red winter wheat. Some bakers, however, prefer hard red (or white) spring wheat. If you want spring wheat you might have to mail order and this can increase the overall price. This link major wheat growing regions in the US - reference maps will show you how far wheat has to travel to get to you.

If you purchase wheat in bulk (25 to 50 pounds of grain at a time), what about storage? Since you live in FL, is your home subject to prolonged periods of high humidity and heat? If yes, you might wish to store your bulk grain in special gamma seal storage buckets.

beeman1's picture
beeman1

For those of us in Fl. that need wheat berry's. Wheat Montana is getting ready to do there bulk order. If you go to the dealer locater in the wheat montana site you can find it. I use www.haleysilo.com  she is in Pinellas park. For hillsborough go to www.mannamakers.com   I pack wheat in 5 and 6 gallon plastic buckets with dry ice and O2. absorbers.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I have a NutriMill.  It may be loud, but it's not as bad as the VitaMixer.  That I sold.  My solution to the loudness problem is to wear ear protectors.  The cats take care of themselves, and there's no one else to worry about.  I just think that smashing wheat grains is a noisy process.


I use only fresh-ground whole grains these days.  I order online, and have set up a storage unit that I call my granary in the downstairs hall.  The NutriMill has its own spot in the pantry.  It is lightweight and thus not difficult to take out.  I make sure I grind plenty of flour for each recipe, and I store the excess in the freezer.


My biggest problem is recipes that use only cup measurements with no weights.  If the recipe calls for 600 grams flour, I can weigh out 600 grams berries (or a bit more).


The only recipe adjustment needed is for hydration.  I even substitute whole wheat when the recipe calls for all refined.  No shame.


Rosalie

xaipete's picture
xaipete

At the book signing yesterday at Omnivore books, someone asked Peter Reinhart a question about grinding their own whole wheat flour and whether it need to be used immediately or aged. Peter said that it ought to be used within the first 24, perhaps up to 36, hours. If not, then it should be aged for a couple of weeks. He cited an experience he had had when at Juniper's Brothers bakery. Apparently the miller he normally got his flour from had sent him out some week-old flour and his breads were coming out with holes in odd places (I can't remember if the holes were in the middle or the top of the loaves). Anyway, he traced it back to the flour which had been sent to him too early.


--Pamela