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subfuscpersona's picture

Retsel Electric Grain Mill on Sale Now on eBay

June 25, 2009 - 7:25am -- subfuscpersona

Retsel Electric Grain Mill on Sale Now on eBay


CAVEAT: I don't know if it is permissible to link to an eBay auction on this forum. However, for those in the market for a high-end grain mill for home use, this may be of interest. I have no connection with the seller and no intention of buying this mill. (webmaster - please feel free to delete this post if you wish).

proth5's picture
proth5

 For the few of you following this adventure in milling, I thought I would post the baked results.  I used my standard baguette formula which is posted elsewhere on this site, but briefly is all levain, 65% hydration with 15% of the flour pre-fermented with an inoculation rate of 25%.  This is a formula that I have been baking every week for years with fairly consistent results.  My standard baguettes are pictured elsewhere in my blog.


 The flour used for this bake was the first batch, milled on 25 February and has been aging in an uncovered plastic container since then.  It was about 70% extraction and contained very fine flecks of bran.  Since I could not get a Falling Number measurement on this flour, I did not attempt to correct the Falling Number by malting the flour.  Details on the milling process are posted in earlier blog entries.


 My first observation is that the levain build was somewhat different than that made at the same time with commercial flour.  I would have to say that it was more fluid than the commercial flour, and matured with larger bubbles.


 Although I was attempting to go strictly "by the numbers," after the autolyse phase the dough was very stiff and I added additional water.  The dough developed "pretty much like" my normal dough after that, and bulk fermented "about like you'd expect."  The color of the dough was distinctly more grey than normal, probably reflecting a higher ash content in the flour (since it did contain some bran.)


 After dividing, I shaped the dough as normal.  It was at this phase that it felt "different."  I would describe it as being just slightly less elastic than my normal dough.


The final ferment had a duration of one hour - which is the standard length for this formula's final ferment.  I felt that the dough was somewhat under "proofed" but wanted to try to keep the process as close to "by the numbers" as possible, so I went ahead to scoring and baking.


 The crumb was a bit tight - probably reflecting my skimping on the final ferment or the lack of malt - but not horribly so.  The taste is quite nice.  I'm not good at the "notes of grass" sort of language, but it tasted "more" than my normal loaf.  A bit more there there, as it were.  Again, it may not show well in the pictures, but the crumb color was a bit deeper than my normal loaf.


 The results are pictured below.  Despite all the good advice on these pages - photography continues to elude me, but I gave it my best shot (as it were.)


Hand Milled Baguette Crust


Hand Milled Baguette Crumb


 


 


Would I hand mill this flour again?  I might. It does not have nearly the taste impact of fresh milling a whole wheat or a near whole wheat flour, but it is a nice flour with nice baking results.  Next time I might add just a pinchlette of diastatic malt.


I will say that I normally dust my peel lightly with flour and this particular flour - being a bit more "sandy" than commercial flour makes a great flour for dusting the peel.


I ate a half baguette as I typed this up.  I usually have pretty good self control around my normal baguettes.  I'm guessing this one WAS pretty darn tasty.


Hope this is of some interest to those of you contemplating advanced home milling.  I still have my second batch of "pure white" flour to bake - hopefully next week.


Happy Milling!

proth5's picture
proth5

 


"Do or do not...there is no try." Yoda


 


And so it is finally time to actually make a "white flour" milling run. This is a project that I have been mulling over for some time - and it is not a small one.


 


Here are some specifics as to my milling setup.  I use a Diamant mill with steel burrs.   The mill is hand cranked.  For sifting, I use plastic classifiers from Legend, Inc.  I have #12 (screen openings of .07"), #30(.02") and #50 (.01").  I also have a #100 (.006") but have not been using it.  I use a Delmhorst G7 grain moisture meter to measure grain moisture.


 


The objective for this first "white flour" run was simply to get a generic "all purpose" white flour.  I do not currently have the equipment to measure ash content, and the method described by bwraith in his blog requires a 12 hour waiting period.  I can see how this would be useful, but at this time the project seems monumental enough.


 


The first step in the process is tempering.  I am hoping to produce enough flour to make a recipe of baguettes, so I started with 32 oz (Oh, me and my pound and ounces, but this is a low precision operation and they should be good enough) of hard white wheat berries.  To this I added 0.8 oz of water.  After 24 hours I took a moisture level measurement and found the grain to be at 12.7% moisture.  This is close enough to the desired 13% so the berries were left in the tightly sealed container for another 24 hours to continue the tempering process.


 


My target extraction level was 70%.  Some of the weight of the grain is lost in the process, so my goal was to obtain 20 oz of "white" flour.


 


My first pass through the mill was what I define as a "medium sized" cracked wheat.  This is a little finer than typical cracked wheat, but still more of a meal than a flour.  This pass was sifted through the #12 sieve which is part of my process to remove the bran and then through the #50 sieve (which is the sieve through which I normally sift my high extraction flour) to see how much "flour" resulted from the first pass.  On this first pass I obtained 1.5 oz of flour (from 32 oz of grain...)  Not much, just not much at all.


 


My second pass was a 'fine" cracked wheat.  This pass took all of the material that had not passed through the #12 sieve and milled it again.  Again I sifted it through both the #12 and the #50 sieve.  I obtained an additional 1.15 oz of white flour.


 


Since, frankly, I am just making this process up as I go along, I had to take a moment for quality thought.  I already have what I consider to be a successful process for obtaining my high extraction flour and my objective was to get as much bran out of the process before I started doing the finer passes.  So I switched to my "high extraction" process.  I did one more pass to "very fine" cracked wheat and sifted it through the #12 sieve.  This resulted in about 10 oz of "bran like" material left in the sieve.  This would be about a 70% extraction, however noticing that some "bran like" material had passed through the sieve and would be sifted out at finer siftings, this would not result in my target extraction rate.  So I put the material remaining in the sieve through the mill again at the same setting.  Sifting through the #12 sieve left 4.35 oz of material in the sieve.  This material was removed from the milling process.


 


I then sifted the remaining material through the #50 sieve to get 2.95 oz of flour.  Clearly I had to continue with finer grinding.


 


The next pass through the mill was at what I call "hippie whole wheat" coarseness.  This is starting to look like flour, but at a texture that bakes up into the doorstops we convinced ourselves were good bread a few decades ago.  This was sifted through the #30 and the #50 sieves.  From this pass I obtained an additional 2.95 oz of white flour.  There was more milling to do.  There was 5.25 oz of bran like material left in the #30 sieve.  This was removed from the milling process, making the total bran removed 9.6 oz - somewhat below my target, allowing for some more material to be removed in later siftings.


 


The next pass was to the fineness of coarse ground whole wheat.  Again it was sifted through the #30 and the #50 sieves.  I obtained an additional 4.6 oz of flour.


 


At this point I had obtained, in total, about half the amount of white flour that was my goal.  I needed to grind finer, but frankly at this point a small amount of bran was working its way through the mill and into my flour.  It was a very small amount, but it was there.  Oh well.


 


The next pass was essentially typical flour.  I grind finer, but this is very like commercial whole wheat.  This was sifted through the #50 sieve to obtain 4.05 oz of white flour.  The material remaining in the sieve was returned to the mill and put through at the same setting.  This was sifted through the #50 sieve to obtain an additional 3.95 oz of white flour.  All of the remaining material was returned to the mill.


 


At this point I put my mill on its finest setting.  Once again I sifted the output through the #50 sieve to get an additional amount of white flour of 2.5 oz.


 


That was it - I had my 20 oz of flour.  I returned what remained in the sifter to the mill and did an additional pass.  What went through the #50 sieve, however, was clearly loaded with bran and so was removed from the process.


 


All of this took about an hour.  Coming soon to an infomercial near you "Milling and Sifting Your Way to Fitness."


 


What were the results?  Unfortunately the combination of my snapshot camera and my photography skills result in unedifying pictures, so sorry, no pics.  I have 20oz of whitish flour.  It is clearly, but very lightly flecked with bran.  Compared side by side with King Arthur All Purpose flour, it is a bit more yellow in color and just a bit grittier, but not unpleasantly so.  The flour from the first couple of passes was distinctly greyer than the rest of the flour.  Here is our treasured "clear" flour perhaps, but at such a low volume that I don't think I could justify milling it.  I could put the results through the #100 sieve to attempt to get my "white" flour even whiter, but that would result in a much lower yield.  I may have to tolerate the flecks of bran.


 


Right now I have two paths I could take for the next batch: stay with this method and send the next lot off to the lab for some test results, or try another method.  The key, of course is to get the bran out before it gets ground too finely.  I am considering doing more passes at coarser settings, but the flour yield from those is just a bit discouraging.  I must remind myself that these burr mills are not roller mills and in general are not designed for milling white flours.  I can be terribly hard on myself.  Inspiration is welcome.


 


As for the baked results?  Now we wait.  Four weeks.  For while there is much ambiguity about aging whole wheat flours, there is none for white flours.  What I have is green flour and it needs to be aged prior to baking.  I'm not going to let my lack of patience mess with the results...


 


Happy Milling!

proth5's picture
proth5

The tests results are in! (It takes so little to make me happy.)

 

This particular batch of wheat was tempered for 48 hours with 20% of water added by weight of the grain.

 

It was then ground as follows

 

1 – Coarse pass sifted through #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

2 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

3 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve removed from process.  This was about 20% of total weight

4 – Medium fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

5 – Fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

6 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve retuned to mill

7 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

8 – Very fine pass – results combined with the rest of the flour

 

This is a lot of passes and a lot of sifting and it take me about an hour and a half to do this for 2 pounds of wheat berries with my hand turned, steel buhr Diamant mill (brief tea breaks included.)  However, the multiple passes are actually easier to do than fewer more aggressive passes and the sifting steps decrease the amount of material that needs to be ground in each pass.  The resulting flour is fine and silky and bakes up pretty much the same every week.  I am milling hard white winter wheat.

 

The flour was stored for about a week before taking the samples.

 

I had a very small number of tests run – I still need to produce some bread each week, – so I selected those which seemed to be under my control.  Falling number seems to simply be high in these types of flour, and although I am adjusting ash when I extract material from the process, I haven’t been focusing on ash content (but that would have been my next test if I had enough flour.)

 

So the results are:

 

Moisture                      10.4%

Farinograph (14% MB)

            Peak (min)  7.00

            Tolerance (min)  9.00

            Absorption  68.6%

            M.T.I (BU)  25

Starch damage %   6.23

 

The moisture is low despite my addition of water in the tempering process.  This tells me a couple of things.  One, the Mile High City is dry.  Two, I need to get going on getting that moisture meter.

 

But the other numbers are within what is considered to be required for good bread making flour.  The starch damage is actually on the low side – probably reflecting my “many small passes” approach – but still will within range.  M.T. I. is also on the low end of the range and is not really troubling given how gently I mix my bread.

 

The bread has been bearing this out, but it is good to have the numbers.

 

So even with my low tech setup where I hand grind, hand sift, guesstimate moisture content and adjust grind by look and feel – a reasonable quantity of good quality flour can be produced on a regular basis.  My hands on process not only takes the place of a trip to the gym, but gives me some quality time to think about the stupendous journey of the grain or wheat as it goes from field to table.

 

Now if I can just find a lab willing to give me an analysis of the critters in my levain…

 

Happy Milling!

proth5's picture
proth5

Nature seems to have granted me an abundance of patience and in the past few weeks I have been undertaking experiments that seem destined to use it.

 

I have been wondering why my levain – which given the way I feed it should be dead by now – lives, thrives, and raises bread every week.  I have also been wondering about the results of soaking my home milled overnight prior to a mix and bake.

 

So for the past few weeks I have fed a separate levain at 1:5:5.  What I have noticed is that it seems to be “a little” more lively and certainly is not the soupy pool that my standard levain tends to be.  But otherwise, I can’t honestly say that anything else is different.  I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my feeding routine for my standard levain.  What I find is that (as with so many of us who do things by feel) I really do take a good look at it and make adjustments.  Looking a little listless?  I’ll take out more and feed it more.  “Spring” coming to the Rockies? (Those of you who live in the Rockies know why I put that in quotes.)  Feed it more often or put it in a cool place.  So maybe my routine was not quite so bad after all.

 

Anyway, the proof is in the baking.  Since this week I was soaking my home ground, I varied from my routine and made a stiff levain build with my new levain (60% hydration) and made my usual baguettes, plain whole wheat bread and pizza.  I stayed with my usual methods with the exception of soaking the whole wheat flour with added salt at room temperature overnight, and doing one less series of “strokes” on the whole wheat as I really felt it was coming together.

 

Pizza goes away too quickly for pictures.  But I do have shots of the others experiments (I’m no photographer – but I know y’all like pictures, so I try…) which I have posted here: 

 

http://s264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/?action=view&current=Soakedwholewheat.jpg

 

http://s264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/?action=view&current=WeeklyBaguette.jpg

 

I will not do a complete critique of the many, many flaws in the baguette - but I did have a small slashing problem with the whole wheat which contributed to it not fully expanding. 

 

Conclusions?  Well, my bread is nothing if not consistent.  This is pretty much what I bake every week.  So, practiced eye or precise feeding ratios – they seem to be the same for me.  Soaking overnight?  Not doing much yet in my hands, but I will probably keep doing it just to see if some small adjustments will make a difference.

 

Meanwhile my patience stands me in good stead as I wait for the lab results on my home ground (I promised that I’d do this someday and my word is my bond.  Sometimes it takes time to get results, but that’s how bonds are…)

 

Happy Baking!

proth5's picture
proth5

Oh, the flour that is...As promised, I have let my home milled high extraction flour age for the 2 months as recommended by a number of texts.Once again, I made this loaf "by the numbers" - dough temperature, strokes, folds, ferment times and temperatures, etc.This time, I did feel a need to adjust - the dough seemed to "come together" a bit faster than my earlier home milled trials - but I soldiered on with the test method.

Once baked, this was the result: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/HomeMilledAged2MonthsCrumb.jpg

It really did seem a bit more open in the crumb than earlier attempts which is consistent with the theories that aging is required for the best gluten development. Although the loaf was pretty tasty and showed no signs of the flour having become rancid with the long storage, it did lack that “fresh from the berry” taste of truly fresh milled flour.

So, what to do?  Two months of flour is quite an inventory for flour storage if you are baking on a regular basis.  Although the results of this loaf (in terms of lightness of crumb) were better – the freshly ground wasn’t bad.  So, as usual, it’s all a matter of personal preference.  But as earlier experiments seem to show – if you are going to age the flour, it should be quite a long aging – a few days or a couple weeks does not suffice.

Happy Baking!

proth5's picture
proth5

As promised I did a test loaf with my home milled high extraction flour.  I used .01% of diastatic malt by weight of the flour and baked using my standard "test loaf" formula.  Once again, I went by the numbers - strokes, folds, dough temperature, and fermentation times as for my other loaves.

The results of the .01% malt are posted here: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/Homemilledmalt1.jpg

For comparison a non-malted loaf is posted here: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/FreshGroundCrumb.jpg

My observation is that except for some minor variations in shaping and slashing, the loaves were pretty much the same.  If anything, I would say that the malted loaf rose a bit more and was a bit more lively during shaping, but that might be my imagination.  I didn't notice any significant gumminess in the crumb - again, I didn't notice much difference at all.  .01% is a very small amount of malt and perhaps I will run a second test with a higher percent in the future.

But for now, I just don't think I need to malt the home milled.  It may be that there is a balance within the parts of the grain that are used that tends to compensate for the relatively high Falling Number or just...well, I don't know anymore.  Any comments that can shed light on this would be much appreciated.

My next test bake will be home milled that has been aged for 2 months - which is the recommended aging for whole wheat type flours.  We'll see if my patience pays off.

Happy Baking!

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