The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grain milling

proth5's picture

For the few and the brave...

 The time has arrived to bake the second batch of hand milled white flour.  This flour was the "pure white" flour that was milled on 27 Feb.  This has been aging in an uncovered container since then.

 Once again, I used my standard baguette recipe.  However after using the last of my last batch of white flour to make a pizza on Friday, I had some thoughts.  The last batch of flour performed very poorly for pizza.  Not that the crust wasn't crispy and tasty (because it was) but the rise had no oomph.  I considered that white flour is usually malted and that this lackadaisical rise bore all of the signs of a lack of alpha amylase action.

 So this batch of flour was malted.  I used a scant 1/8 teaspoon of diastatic malt to 15 oz of flour and blended it thoroughly.  I then proceeded to do my levain build for my baguettes.

 This time the levain was very comparable to that prepared with commercial flour.  If I was forced to find a difference, it would be that it was ever so slightly darker in color.

 The mixing of the dough went as I would have experienced with commercial flour.

 The bulk fermentation was also very much like what I have experienced with commercial flour, and, truth be told, it was a bit more lively than my last week's batch.

 During shaping, I felt no real difference this time; it felt like what I bake every week.

 After an hour for the final ferment, the loaves felt properly "proofed" which is what I would expect from commercial flour.  They were loaded, the oven steamed "as usual" and baked.

 The final result is pictured below.  Alas, the passing week has not improved my photography skills.

Hand Milled Crust

Hand Milled Crumb


Compared to last week's loaves these are much better balanced.  The sacrifice in grigne comes from a more thorough final ferment.  The more thorough fermentation process has produced that good old open crumb that I have come to expect from commercial flour.  It had the proper translucent quality and was not a bit gummy (as it would be if I over malted.)

 The taste?  Like I baked with commercial flour.  I like it, but it really isn't much different than what I bake every week.

 Would I mill this flour again?  Perhaps.  With a yield of 15 oz of flour from 2 pounds of wheat berries, one must regard this as a luxury flour.  The increment in taste - except for that sweet, sweet taste that comes from knowing that I can hand mill a flour that is every bit as good as a high quality commercial flour - is not really worth the effort.  The dramatic change in fermentation behavior must be attributed to the malting of the flour.  Remember it is less than .05 oz per 15 oz of flour - as we see; a little goes a long way.  What I may work at is developing a semi-white flour and make sure that I malt it properly.

 When I pick up a sack of all purpose flour, I handle it gently.  I have a deep appreciation for what this really means.

 Happy Milling!

proth5's picture

For the few and the brave following this march to insanity, I did a second milling of white flour today.

This time, I followed the same process as in the first milling run, but after removing about 20% of the bran weight, cranked the mill down to its finest setting and milled what remained.

I then sifted through my #100 sieve (0.06" openings) and got a tiny bit of pure white flour.  I returned what remained in the sieve to the mill and remilled it (at the same setting).  After six passes this way, small flecks of bran began to sift through and I stopped the process.

What did I get for this? Pure white flour.  Looking at it and feeling it, I am unable to tell it from my King Arthur All Purpose - which may be good, or not.

For this I paid a price.  I was only able to get 15 oz of flour from 2 pounds of wheat berries.  What was left behind was not all bran, but it was milled to a silky texture.  I believe the French term for this is remoullage.  And that's certainly what I did - I remilled it.

Again, we wait.  Despite folklore on "within 72 hours or then it must be aged" the explanation that I accept about flour aging seems not to support this practice.  If we are trying to get oxygen to bond with certain molecules in the flour, I don't know why they would get an exemption from this for 72 hours.  Be back in 4 weeks...

Anyone with suggestions on how I might change my process to get a higher yield is most welcome to comment.  After all - I'm just making this up as I go along.

Now I really must get to milling the high extraction flour for my bake this week.

Happy Milling!

proth5's picture

I am creating a new blog entry to discuss bwraith’s flour test results just to move it up as his original entry was getting old.  I admit we’re going overboard on this, but I find it all very interesting (no pictures- just discussion of flour test results) – so be warned!

Letters in my responses correspond to letters on bwraith’s test results.

I don’t know how to do that “quote thing” so I’ll just put bwraith’s original words in quotes when I want to respond to something directly.

Also, these are just my humble speculations.  If anyone has a more complete knowledge, I would be most grateful to hear their interpretation of the results that were so graciously provided.


As you said…”One main thing that was unexpected for me, was that the lowest ash white flour coming out of the second pass had high protein and wet gluten content, yet it did not have great mixing qualities in the farinograph (low mixing tolerance). My theory is that the first grinding pass may result in some very high protein dust particles being released through the 80 mesh sieve. Maybe that extra protein in the flour out of the first pass is needed for good gluten formation and is proportionately too low in the flour from the second pass. I've been reading that some of the different types of protein vary in size and whether they adhere to the starch granules or not. I guess there are milling operations that use air separation to separate the different sized protein particles and then blends them in various flours to create desired protein specifications.”

What intrigues me is that I am told that the outside of the endosperm is whiter (lower in ash) than the inside of the endosperm and although the protein/gluten is higher it is of lesser quality.  If P2a was producing flour from the outside of the endosperm, this would be consistent with your result of lower tolerance.  What you are getting as flour on P1 would be acting as a balance against the P2a result when blended for baking.I don’t think your process is reducing protein quality – I think that your process may be delivering different parts of the endosperm at different points in the process.Also, if you look at the Seguchi paper that I cite in my other blog post, it may be that the flour was aged insufficiently to see the full potential of its protein.  He is looking at aging periods in excess of 100 days to achieve full potential.

What also intrigues me is that the results for P1 tracked so closely to whole wheat flour.  I frankly would have expected those results to be more like the Golden Buffalo.Nice to know that the multi-pass milling created flour with lower starch damage than commercial flour.  I have seen some discussion that some home milled flours seem to be “thirsty.”  This would be indicative of a kind of starch damage that you did not experience.

Finally – when all is said and done, the values for both of the flours are within those considered acceptable for commercial baking – not necessarily ideal values, but well within tolerances.  This is borne out by the bread that you produce. So, no need to age to maximum potential to get good bread.I know, I need to get enough flour milled to get some tests on my stuff.  I’ll do it – I really will.  I have some other things to attend to in the short term, but I know I’ll do it.  In the meantime –

Happy Milling!


proth5's picture

Since the discussion continues on aging flour, this week I had the opportunity to mill and bake all in one day and I thought I would document the results.

I used the milling routine from my former post, but added two “medium coarse” passes prior to removing the bran. Immediately after milling I made the dough using the same method as my prior loaf. I really attempted to go “by the numbers” – number of strokes, dough temperature, fermentation time and temperature, and proofing time and temperature so the only difference would be between aging and not aging the flour.

What I observed was that I really didn’t feel the need for any adjustments. At no point was I thinking “Wow, this is different!” All seemed to move along as it had with the aged flour.

The final loaf (although somewhat more “boldly baked” shall we say) bore this out. Given small variations of shaping and slashing, it was nearly the twin of my other loaf.

The crumb – likewise.

The taste was a bit fresher, a little more lively – in short better to my taste.

My results seem to be consistent with Mr. Reinhart’s advice to bake quickly or wait two weeks. What I really can’t reconcile is the science – that says that oxidation is required to bring the flour to full gluten development potential. I will need to read and research more on this.

Unfortunately, my personal schedule will prevent me from running an experiment on aging day by day for some time – and that would be interesting. But for now, if my schedule permits – fresh flour it is.

Happy Milling!

proth5's picture

For those of you who have followed bwraith’s adventures in artisan milling – and I commend them to all – let me say that I am nowhere near his level of attention to detail and analytics. I just thought I might post as I’ve taken an approach that is more accessible to the average home miller.


I am milling on a Diamant 525 which is hand powered and uses metal grinding plates. I hand sift using plastic sieves. Here is a picture:

My last milling effort was as follows:

  1. Temper 16 oz of Hard White Winter wheat with .5 oz of water for 36 hours – wheat is dry to the touch at milling time
  2. Coarse grind – sift through #30 sieve - return what remained in sifter to grinder
  3. 2nd coarse grind – sift through #30 sieve – reserve what remained in sieve which appeared to be fluffy bran (2.5 oz). Use what passed through sieve for next grind
  4. Medium grind – sift through #30 sieve – return what remained in sieve to grinder
  5. 2nd Medium grind – combine all of the material to the grinder
  6. Fine grind – sift through #50 sieve – return material in sieve to grinder
  7. 2nd fine grind – sift through #50 sieve – return material in sieve to grinder
  8. 3rd fine grind – combine all material.
  9. Age flour for 16 days (for no particular reason other than I was away and couldn’t bake)


This seems like a lot of passes, but they go pretty fast and aren’t as strenuous as doing a single fine pass from berry to flour. The flour was fine, silky, and creamy in color.

I am not a whole wheat purist and I have reserved the bran for other uses. The remaining flour (about 85% extraction) was used in a 100% home milled flour levain. I used the technique described in the book “Bread – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” in the formula for “Un-kneaded, Six-Fold French Bread” – I however, shaped a single batard.


Again, I am not a whole grain purist and I usually mix white flour with my home milled. Not this time – 100% home milled. This was the first time I considered my results acceptable and I am posting pictures of the finished loaf and the crumb. Despite its many, many flaws, the bread is good and well, a first attempt is a first attempt.

To my bread baking teacher – whose raised voice I can hear telling me that I always focus on what is wrong – I apologize for my negativity. But you gave me this assignment and if you are on this forum and happen to see this post – I am handing in my homework. Yes, tempering makes a big difference for the home miller…


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