The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


pbrox's picture

Heading to Central Milling in Petaluma, Ca. Anyone want to split some flour?

October 22, 2009 - 1:28pm -- pbrox


I got so excited by Allisons blog, that I'm going to head out to the mill and pick up some stuff.  Anyone need anything?  I'll be getting some whole wheat for sure but am open to spliting things.  Let me know if your interested.

Perry Brown

ApplePie's picture

I'm a compulsive baker.  When I'm in a grocery store, sometimes I walk down the baking ingredients aisle, even if I don't need anything, just to look.  Pulling a freshly baked apple pie or loaf of bread from the oven, with its aroma wafting through the house with the promise of deliciousness to come, is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life, in my opinion.

I'm also an engineer who needs to understand how things work.  Baking fascinates me.  The transformation of simple ingredients - flour, water, yeast and salt - into a living piece of dough, and then nourishing loaf of bread that feeds the soul as well as the body is the fascinating intersection of science, the senses, and the spiritual.

Lest anyone think I'm an expert baker, let me assure you I've had plenty of duds:  gloppy underdone pies, bricks for bread, sourdough cinnamon rolls that were so sour they made my mouth pucker - and not in a good way.

So I'm here, and you're probably reading this, because I want to understand and apply the secrets of good baking, one of which is quality ingredients.  Now you can make a decent loaf a bread from store bought flour; I've used King Arthur and Gold Medal Better for Bread in the past.  But in an effort to bake healthier breads, I wanted to find a full-flavored whole wheat flour that wasn't bitter.  That's challenging since whole wheat flour is more perishable due to the oil in the germ.  References from the Fresh Loaf and from Artisan I and Artisan II classes at SFBI point to Central Milling, who produces Whole Foods' 365 Organic Unbleached All Purpose flour.  They also sell unbleached white flour at Costco, under the Central Milling label.

I contacted Nicky Giusto at Central Milling to ask about ordering whole wheat flour directly from the Utah mill.  To my surprise, he said I could swing by Petaluma (in the SF bay area) and buy directly from their warehouse!  I met Nicky yesterday just after he returned from delivering some flour to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa.

Nicky Giusto

Nicky, 4th generation in the flour/baking business, set up and is running this west coast warehouse, which has been in existence for less than a year.  Nicky was very helpful, freely sharing information about the different flours and which ones to use for what you want to bake.  We talked about the business, the wheat market, and the quality of their flour, starting from the seeds they supply to the farmers.

Although the Petaluma warehouse doesn't stock every type of Central Milling flour, they still have quite a selection. This picture shows a depleted supply, deliveries having been made throughout the week.

Central Milling Petaluma warehouse


It was good to hear how Central Milling keeps a close connection to the farmers who grow the grain.  In fact, the photo in the Central Milling logo is of Farmer Brown, the great great grandfather of the Washington farmer who now grows grain for their Organic Whole Wheat Acme Hi-Pro Fine flour.

Central Milling logo

And they do sell a lot of flour to Acme:

Flour for Acme

I ended up w/ 2 50lb bags of flour plus a little extra:

  • 50 lbs Organic Whole Wheat Acme Hi-Pro Fine: High protein, especially good for pan breads. Although you can make a 100% whole wheat loaf with it, Nicky suggested mixing it with some white flour, I think for some softness.

  • 50 lbs Artisan Bakers Craft white flour w/ malted barley flour. This bag he threw in for free, since the bag had gotten a tear (which they taped up) and so couldn't be sold commercially.

  • 2 bags of pancake mix, regular buttermilk and whole wheat buttermilk, just to try.  You may notice that the pictures used on these packages of pancake mix are the same pictures to be found on Whole Foods 365 brand of pancake mix.

Central Milling pancake mix

In the future, I'll probably be coordinating with others to split 50 lb bags of flour.

If you are interested in buying flour from the Petaluma warehouse, contact Nicky via phone - his number is shown at the top of the Central Milling products webpage - to arrange your visit.  Although they aren't set up to sell to a high volume of people, Nicky is quite happy to sell to enthusiasts on an occasional basis.  Just be prepared to take your flour in 50 lb increments.  If there's a bag already opened, he is willing to sell a smaller quantity.  Working on the website is on Nicky's To Do list.

I have no affiliation with Central Milling - just an enthusiast looking for quality flour.



Elagins's picture -- Open for Business!!!

September 3, 2009 - 3:30pm -- Elagins

As you know, I've been thinking about starting up an e-biz directed at amateur bread bakers and have raised the issue here a few times.

At last, I'm very pleased to announce (with Floyd's consent) the opening of my new company, THE NEW YORK BAKERS, and our website,

The goal of THE NEW YORK BAKERS is to offer home bread bakers a source for all of the the ingredients, supplies and equipment that we typically can't find at retail, in sensible quantities and at reasonable prices.

Chef Bart's picture
Chef Bart

Hi everyone,


I just wanted to take a minute and introduce myself. This is my first foray into the world of online baking communities…


I completed pastry school and earned my Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris many years ago.  In addition, I hold multiple professional certificates in bread baking and venoisserie.  In other words, I’m a pastry chef.  


Like a lot of you, for years I have tried to make high quality venoisserie, brioche, croissants and baguettes using domestic flour, but I couldn’t seem to make it work with the flour we have available to us here in the States.  After all that time and money spent learning how to make them, needless to say, it left me more than a bit frustrated.  I searched and searched the internet and found many people trying “add a little of this or a little of that or try this or that”.  None of it worked to my satisfaction.  Actually, no one posted that they had great success either. 


I went to the top of the mountain, Grands Moulins de Paris (GMP), in a little town north of Paris by the name of Gennevilliers.  They are the largest mill company in Europe and arguably the best food and grain laboratory in the world.


My good friends and chefs in Paris tried to help me figure it out. The people at GMP tell me the flour that we have now developed is superior to type 45 and 55 French flour in every aspect.  


Knowing that there was no real solution for bakers in the States, I decided to turn my passion into my life’s work to provide this flour.  After all, we deserve high quality breads as much as Europeans.

The flour is not bleached.  The protein content is 11.5%.  There is ascorbic acid added as a preservative.  The deactivated enzymes, lipids and proteins, etc., added make the difference.  I believe one of the major benefits is derived from the enzymes that allow the starch to be broken down to complex sugars and the complex sugars to be broken down to simple sugars in the second proof.  Kind of complicated but really simple. The enzymes let the yeast live and the starches work as nature intended. Other than the vitamin C, everything added appears naturally in wheat.  Domestic mill companies buy the wheat and mill it so it has maximum shelf life.  We add the good stuff back. Just take a look at the breads on our website  The beautiful color on the exterior of the breads come from the caramelization of the sugars, and of course, a good egg wash.


So, for the pastry students returning to the States, the product offers the opportunity to actually recreate what they learned to make abroad.


For the professional baker, the product will help you save money while creating a superior product possessing unmatched taste, texture, smell, appearance, and quality. Here’s a good example of how it saves you money: typically, American croissants weigh approximately 100 grams. B & D Croissant Flour creates a stronger dough, allowing for the same size croissant to weigh around 60 grams. This means that you not only use half the flour per croissant, but you use half of all other ingredients as well.


And for the at home bakers, well, the product allows you to make the best croissants, brioche and breads that you’ve ever tasted.


I’m excited to join the community of online bakers, and I welcome your questions and comments.  I encourage you to check out the website at, and, of course, hope some of you will venture to try the product.





serifm's picture

Question about types of flour

August 12, 2009 - 11:05am -- serifm

I have three types of flour in my kitchen: all purpose, bread flour, and [recently] high gluten. I've not used the high gluten before, but at a price of five dollars for 50 pounds I couldn't resist! I am curious to know if anyone has baked the same bread recipe using the three different types of flour and, if so, how did the breads differ? I think all three recipes would have to be baked at the same time for an accurate comparison.


Elagins's picture

Anyone Need Specialty Flours?

August 7, 2009 - 10:13am -- Elagins

I have a bunch of extra white rye, All Trumps (14.7% gluten), dark rye (pumpernickel), Cameo unbleached pastry flour, organic WW, white WW, durum (semolina) flour and Types 55 and 00 equivalents at prices far below what King Arthur charges. I also have fresh compressed yeast in 1# blocks for much less than you'll pay for those packages of dry yeast in the supermarket. If you've never used fresh compressed, you're really in for a treat!

dmsnyder's picture

A couple days ago, I baked some baguettes with a new (to me) flour – Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour. The dough was much more elastic than I expected, and the baguettes had a thicker, crunchier crust and chewier crumb than expected from a flour that is supposedly 11.7% protein, the same as KAF AP flour. (The Nutritional Information on the BRM bag specifies 4 gms of protein in each 34 gm serving.)

The BRM flour acted more like a higher gluten flour than it's protein content would suggest. Now, the packaging does say it's made from hard red spring wheat. As Dan has been telling us, that's what bakers look for when they want the strongest flour. We've also heard that “protein content” is not the same as “gluten content,” and also there are differences in the “quality” of gluten in different wheats. Is that what I encountered?

I decided my next step had to be to make another bread with this flour, to be sure my baguette experience wasn't the result of something other than the flour. I wanted a recipe that I had made before and knew how the dough should be, and I wanted one that was meant to be chewy, unlike baguettes.

Today, I baked a couple loaves of Susan from San Diego's “Ultimate Sourdough.” Susan likes chewy bread, and her recipe calls for “High Gluten” flour. I used the BRM Organic Unbleached Flour, rather than the KAF Bread Flour or Sir Lancelot I had used for this bread before.

Again, the flour acted like a high-gluten flour. It absorbed more water than KAF Bread Flour. It made a very elastic dough that was dryer than usual – just barely tacky. I fermented the dough until doubled (7 hours) and formed two boules which were cold retarded overnight after proofing 45 minutes at room temperature.

This morning, I allowed the boules to warm up and proof for 3.5 hours to about 1.5X their original size before baking. I baked them on a pre-heated stone with steaming by pouring boiling water over lava rocks in a cast iron skillet. (Forgive me, Susan! No magic bowl.)


The result was indistinguishable in chewiness and flavor from the other loaves I've baked with this recipe. (And that is very good!) The crumb was okay but noticeably less open than usual.

My conclusion is that this flour, which has a protein content of 11.7% (by my calculation), acts like other flours I've used with 14+% protein. 

If anyone else has more information about this flour or personal experience using it, I'd love to hear about it.

I also wonder if anyone knows if "hard red spring wheat" usually has higher protein content than winter wheat, or is it's gluten content a greater percentage of the total protein, or is it of higher quality.


guyshahar's picture

Can I use flour milled from seeds in a coffee grinder?

July 27, 2009 - 2:10am -- guyshahar


I am new to home baking and trying to bake gluten free (not yet made a great loaf, but still trying).

I have a simple coffee grinder with a rotating blade at home, but it grinds grains very finely.  I have whole Sorghum, Quinoa, Hemp and Flax seeds that I would like to use as flours in my bread.  I have heard that this is a very good way of ensuring that the flour is fresh and of a good quality and nutricious.  

I have a couple of questions about this:


Subscribe to RSS - flour