The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

home milling

varda's picture

I have been doing multiple bakes with home-milled sifted flour and it's nothing if not a learning experience.    My initial attempt at tempering was a fiasco.   All I could think of when I heard the word tempering was that somehow the wheat berries must be heated to very high temperatures to strengthen them.   Only a few seconds of thought though, is all it takes to realize that that is ridiculous.   But I was still surprised to learn that tempering when it comes to wheat means letting it absorb enough water to achieve a small measure of malting, and reach a desirable level of moisture.   

Easier said than done.   I tried heating a sample of berries at low temperature for several hours to see what their moisture content was.   See the strategy described by Michael here.  Then I added the requisite amount of water to the berries I intended to bake with and stored in a closed container for 2 days while the berries absorbed the moisture, shaking the container whenever I passed by.    I knew that I needed to be careful not to use overly moist berries in my Komo mill.    Fortunately the owners manual gives a handy rule of thumb.   Smash a berry with a spoon on the counter.   If it cracks with a nice snap, it's dry enough.   If it just kind of smashes, it's too wet.   Unfortunately after it seemed that the berries were dry, they smashed.   I had to dry them out for a whole day to get them to crack again.    When they got back into a crackable state, they had lost all the water weight that I'd put into them.   Furthermore the bread I made with these tempered and redried berries was flavorless.   

So presumably my berries are moist enough as it is, and don't need water added.   This still leaves the question of whether I'll get good enough bran separation during milling without going through the tempering step.    But for now at least I've put tempering on hold.  

For my next few bakes, I tried a milling and sifting approach as follows.   Mill berries coarsely.   Sift.   (I used a roughly #24 strainer - that is 24 holes per inch.)   Remill what is caught by the sifter at medium coarse, and sift again.   Remill the leavings again at medium fine and sift again.   Remill the leavings again at fine and sift again.   Stop.   The flour and bran in the picture above resulted from this approach.   While the bread I baked with this approach was a lot tastier than the one with the mis-tempered flour, I still felt that a lot was left to be desired.   

Today, I went out and got more sifting ammunition.   A roughly #30 strainer, and a roughly #40 splatter screen.    I also changed my approach to milling and sifting.    In addition to remilling the leavings and resifting, I decided to progressively sift the flour.     So I milled the berries at medium, then sifted in the #24 strainer and set aside the leavings.    Then sifted the flour in the #30 strainer and set aside the leavings.   Then sifted the flour in the #40 strainer and mixed all the leavings from the three sifts together and remilled at medium.   Then went through the 3 siftings again of the remilled material and added to the flour.  

The flour I got from this process was lighter and silkier than the other approach.    The bad news is that I started with 350g of berries and got only 170g of flour, a less than 50% extraction rate.    That meant that to get a full bake, I had to add a lot of other flour, which I did.     So the flour from the Upinngil wheat berries ended up at a quarter of total flour.    To throw yet another wild card into the bake, I hadn't prepared starter in advance, but I had some leftover rye starter from a bake a few days ago in the refrigerator, and I decided to use as is.   However, not knowing how potent it was I threw in some instant yeast.   

Of course any bread I got out of this was just in the interests of science (aka hacking around with milling and sifting.)   And here is what I got.   Mild and pleasant, but just another step along the way toward something or other.  











Whole Rye






Sifted Upinngil






KA Bread Flour





























Grind 350g hard red wheat berries at medium


Sift in #24 sifter.   Sift resulting flour in #30 sifter.


Sift resulting flour in #40 sifter.


Regrind all the leavings at medium.


Redo the three part sift.   This left me with 170g silky


golden brown flour. 


Mix all ingredients in mixer.   When all ingredients incorporated mix at speed 2 for 20 minutes. 


BF 1.5 hours until dough is double.  


Cut and preshape.   Rest 15 minutes.


Shape into batards.  Proof 1 hour.   Coat with bran/semolina mix.

Slash and bake at 450 F with steam for 20 minutes, without for 25 minutes


Addendum:   Andy's recent post about bolted wheat flour from an operating watermill, led me straight to google to look up bolting.   Well bolting is sifting, but it has an interesting history as I found in this article -   There is a lot of interesting stuff in this article but one of the things that struck me is that much of sifting has been done with cloth rather than a wire mesh.    Which leads me to wonder if that would be a good strategy for the home miller.   Would a nylon or silk stocking work?    Has anyone tried it?   

varda's picture

I'm back with new tools.    Ever since Andy (ananda) started posting about baking with local wheat, I've had it in the back of my mind.    However, local in my case means New England, which isn't exactly known as the American bread basket.    In fact I more or less assumed that Massachusetts wheat was an oxymoron.    I did however, keep my eyes open, and found several farms in the area that grew wheat.    The closest however, were not that close, and I had no mill, and, and, and...  But time goes on and new opportunities arise.    With my birthday coming up, my DH asked me what I wanted and I said a mixer.   I picked out a fancy one and was ready to pull the trigger, when I realized that I simply didn't need such high capacity, and would do quite well with a much more modestly priced model.   That meant that I had "saved" a lot of money, so my husband decided to throw in a mill.    With a new mill coming, I needed wheat.   In fact I needed Massachusetts grown wheat.  

I called a friend and convinced her that she absolutely needed to drive west with me to see the leaves (and incidentally buy wheat.)   She agreed that was absolutely necessary, so the other day we went west.    That is 3/4 of the way across Massachusetts to the little town of Gill, where lies a farm called Upinngil, which sells its own wheat.    I tried calling beforehand to see what they had available, but no dice - they didn't answer.    When we got there, true they had 50 lb sacks of wheat in their store, but they were soft red winter wheat, and hard white winter wheat, neither of  which were what I had in mind.   One of the nice women there said that I should come back in two weeks.    That was hardly possible, as my first trip out there had already strained the limits of practicality.   Fortunately at that moment in walked Mr. Hatch, the farmer.    Told of my plight, he said, no problem.   I have some hard red winter wheat out at the cleaner (not the cleaners).   I'll just drive over to the field and pick some up for you.   Phew!   So with a 50 pound sack of wheat in my trunk, mission accomplished.   And yes, the leaves were lovely as well.

Yesterday the mill and the mixer (Bosch compact) arrived and needed to be put to use.   So I got my starter going, and today started milling and baking.   Not knowing my mill very well yet, I milled pretty coarse, and wanting to get to know the wheat, I decided to make all the flour in the final dough my fresh ground whole wheat.      This meant over 75% coarsely ground whole wheat, which is not something that I'm all that familiar baking with, as I usually keep whole grains to 30% or below.   

I have just cut and tasted, and who knew that Massachusetts wheat would be so good.   Mr. Hatch said that he had been growing it as feed for 20 years, but only in the last 10 has he started selling it to bakers who are interested in local foods.    He also told me that a CSA near me makes regular trips out to his farm for milk, cheese, etc.   So it may be that in the future, I won't have to make the trek if I can meet up with them.  

In any case, I think my whole wheat baking needs work, and I am excited to learn more.

The third new tool I used for this bake was a single edge razor for scoring, taking a tip from breadsong.   I love the control it gives.  

Of course that's not quite as exciting as the KoMo Fidibus 21  shown here resting after it's first milling.


Here's to local farms:

and local wheat:

I used my WFO today probably for the last time of the season.    Now I need to wrap it up tight so it can get through Sandy unharmed.

And finally, I'll close with the a bit of Autumn splendor:  first Tartarian Asters (over 7 feet tall)

and mums which can't really compete with the leaves this time of year:

Update:  Just changed the title of this post from ...freshly ground... to ...freshly milled...   It ain't coffee after all.

Shyamala's picture

At what temperature does flour go rancid when milling?

March 21, 2012 - 11:13am -- Shyamala

Hello.  I recently just purchased the Vita-Mix dry container for milling grain.  I freeze the grain so the temperature doesn't get too high, but even so to get a fine/finer grind I have to mill for about 1 min 20 sec.  The flour seems quite warm.  I have taken the temperature of the flour immediately after grinding, but I have been unable to find at which temperature the enzymes break down.  Does anyone have any information on this? 

loydb's picture

Just to prove that I still do actually bake -- here's a sourdough-only version of PR's whole wheat sandwich bread from WGB. Instead of using yeast, I let the sourdough take over. The initial fermentation was 4.5 hours, the final banneton proofing was 3 hours.

And let me just say I really, really, like the Brod & Taylor proofer. 


m1333's picture

Why is the grain temperature important?

May 31, 2011 - 8:01pm -- m1333

I see a lot of discussion about how high temperatures various mills produce, as if it is of vital importance.  I understand higher temps my destroy enzymes and such, but is is very important since you are going to bake the bread anyway?   (This has probably been answered before but I had no luck in finding it).  Thanks,

thegreatnicski's picture

No Throw Starter Question and Others!

March 30, 2011 - 12:57am -- thegreatnicski

I have a little experience making sourdough, and thought I'd branch into using home milled flour. I usually make the starters at 100% (ish) measuring the flour so I know the running weight of the starter but just adding water till it looks right - a thick gloopy paste. I have some questions - it seems the more I learn, the less I know!

dmsnyder's picture


A couple weeks ago, I posted my bake of the Whole Wheat Bread from Reinhart's BBA, made with fresh-milled flour. A reply by Karin (hanseata) prompted me to bake the “100% Whole Wheat Bread” from Reinhart's newer Whole Grain Baking book. I had made this bread once before leavened with sourdough starter and didn't particularly care for the combination of sourdough tang and whole wheat flavor, but I thought I really should make it again using instant yeast and with fresh-milled whole wheat.

The differences between the formulas for whole wheat bread in BBA and WGB are clearly evolutionary and illustrate where Reinhart has gone with his thinking about drawing the best possible flavor and performance from whole grain flours. In the WGB version, essentially all the flour is either in a biga or a soaker, with an optional additional small amount used to adjustment dough consistency, if needed.

I followed the recipe in WGB closely, with these choices where there were options: For the liquid in the soaker, I used about 2/3 Greek-style yoghurt and 1/3 2% milk. For the fat, I used canola oil. I added less than an ounce of additional WW flour during kneading.

After bulk fermentation, I shaped a single bâtard which was proofed on a linen couch then baked in a Le Creuset oval roaster (in which it barely fit).

I baked at 425ºF (convection bake) with the cover on the roaster. After 10 minutes, I reduced the temperature to 350ºF, and, after 10 minutes more, I removed the cover. I baked another 20 minutes with the roaster uncovered. At that point, I felt the crust should be darker and firmer, although the internal temperature of the loaf was 185ºF. I removed the loaf from the roaster, placed it on a sheet pan and baked for another 10 minutes. I left the loaf in the turned off oven with the door ajar for another 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack.

The crust is thin, slightly crunchy and chewy. The texture of the crumb is moist and chewy – hard to describe but very pleasing. The chewiness is from the larger particles of grain, rather than from the gluten in the crumb. The crumb is otherwise quite soft – almost cake-like. I milled the wheat to the second finest setting. Next time, I plan to mill it at the finest setting, at least for the biga. The flavor is very similar to that of the BBA whole wheat bread but even better. There is no grassiness or bitterness from the bran, just a little sweetness from the honey and the wheat itself and good wheaty flavors. I much prefer this yeasted version to the sourdough one. 

This bread does not need any spreads or other enhancements. It is very satisfying plain. But I'm anticipating it will be equally delicious with almond butter or with eggs.

I also baked a couple boules of sourdough bread today. I used one of the formulas from the SFBI Artisan II Workshop, which calls for a liquid levain fed twice a day. These were baked in Lodge Combo Cookers.


Submitted to YeastSpotting


DownStateBaker's picture

Anyone have a home stone mill?

January 11, 2010 - 8:25am -- DownStateBaker

Just thinking of treating myself to something nice, so I decided on a mill for my home. Whole flours are definetly the best as fresh as possible and I do a bit of home brewing where I would also like to use fresh milled grains. I would really like a stone mill and I see there are some available online. I would probably get a manual one as the machine ones are a bit out of my price range. So any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Tom Georgalas


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