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varda's picture
varda

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.  

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

 
      

Whole Rye

 

146

146

23%

 

Sifted Upinngil

171

 

171

26%

 

KA Bread Flour

329

 

329

51%

 

Water

352

119

471

73%

 

Salt

14

 

14

2.2%

 

Yeast

8

 

8

1.2%

 

Starter

265

    
   

1139

  
      

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 -  http://www.angelfire.com/journal/millbuilder/boulting.html   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

How to sift home milled wheat to get high extraction flour

November 1, 2012 - 9:42am -- varda

Hi,   I recently got a home mill and would like to learn how to make a high extraction flour.    I see references to a bwraith blog post on the subject but can't seem to find it.    Does anyone either know where it is or could give me tips on how to go about milling and sifting to get say an 85% extraction flour?    I am starting with hard red winter wheat.   Thanks!   -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

1600g

 

Total flour

969g

100%

Total water

630g

65%

Total salt

19g

2%

Prefermented flour

242g

25%

 

 

 

Starter build – 8 hrs 27°C

 

 

Rye starter @ 100% hydration

50g

20%

Sifted Wheat

242g

100%

Water

121g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough 25°C

 

 

Starter

363g

50%

 Sifted fresh milled Spelt

727g

100%

Water

510g

70%

Salt

19g

2%

 

Method

  1. Autolyse 45 mins
  2. Knead 5-10 mins
  3. Bulk ferment 1.5 hours with stretch and fold at 45 mins
  4. Preshape and bench rest for 15 mins
  5. Shape and proof for 45 mins
  6. Bake in steamed oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 30 mins at 200°C

I have come to the realisation that I don’t enjoy working with large proportions of spelt flour in dough.  The flavour of the bread was ok, but considering it contained 75% sifted spelt flour I found it rather bland, left me wanting more from it. As the temperatures continue to climb here (yesterday was a hot and humid 32°C) I am finding the spelt breads ferment way too fast for my liking even when using cooler water.

I think I will stick with wheat breads and smaller proportions of spelt (30% is a favourite of mine)

… also looks like a busy weekend of baking coming up … and with Christmas fast approaching it seems just about all of our upcoming weekends have social events hopefully requiring bread :)

Cheers, Phil

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

950g

 

Total flour

555g

100%

Total water

400g

72%

Total salt

11g

2%

Prefermented flour

100g

18%

 

 

 

Starter build – 10 hrs 23°C

 

 

Starter

20g

20%

Ryeflour (Kialla Milling)

100g

100%

Water

100g

100%

 

 

 

Final dough 25°C

 

 

Starter

200g

43%

Sifted fresh milled Wheat

227g

50%

 Sifted fresh milled Spelt

227g

50%

Water

300g

65%

Salt

11g

2%

Method

  1. Autolyse 20 mins
  2. Knead 5-10 mins
  3. Bulk ferment two hours with two stretch and folds at 30 mins apart in first hour
  4. Preshape and bench rest for 10 mins
  5. Shape and proof for one and a quarter hours
  6. Bake in preheated covered pot for 10 mins at 250°C then 10mins at 200°C. Remove bread from pot and bake a further 20 mins at 200°C

___

This bread will be taken to work for a lunch gathering so I have no crumb shot to show nor time for photos this morning or I will miss my bus :)

Cheers, Phil

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Saturdays are my day of play in the kitchen. I rise early in our quiet house to bake bread for the week. A boiled kettle, a cup of tea, then I start mixing and planning my day just as the sun pokes through the kitchen window. After mixing, we enjoy a lazy breakfast while I watch the dough and wait. By midday the baking is done, enticing me to cut a slice (or two) for lunch.

Last weeks Dark Rye disappointment also fuelled a rye test bake, but I will save that for another post in the next few days as I am waiting for the crumb to set.

With the rye bake keeping me busy both mentally and physically in the kitchen, I decided to be kind on myself and bake a simple adaptation of the country bread with two starters by using a proportion of wholemeal spelt in the final dough. I think I have found a winner both with flavour and texture.

Milling and Sifting

While last weeks light rye was certainly delicious and moist (with the soaked cracked rye) I found the sharp flavour of using only the rye starter too assertive. The overnight rise in the fridge compounded this further and the sourness became quite pronounced a few days after baking. Using a combination of the two starters and a room temperature proof seems to restore a balance that I felt was lacking in last weeks bread.

I prepared the flour the night before. The wheat was milled and sifted. The caught material was remilled and sifted again before being used in the final flour with the caught bran set aside. The spelt was milled and then added to the final flour mix without sifting while the rye grains were milled coarsely and fed to a hungry rye starter for use in the morning. My usually wholewheat starter was fed sifted wholewheat and 30% wholemeal spelt before being mixed to a 50% hydration and placed in a cool spot overnight.

 

3 grain country bread with two starters

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total flour

1100g

100%

Total water

900g

82%

Total salt

25g

2.3%

Prefermented flour

167g

15%

Desired dough temperature 23°-24°C

 

 

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Rye starter @110% hydration

115g

12%

Sifted wholewheat starter @ 50% hydration

168g

18%

Sifted wholewheat flour

603g

65%

Wholemeal spelt flour

330g

35%

Water

784g

84%

Salt

25g

2.6%

Last fold, shape and proof

Method

  1. Autolyse flour and water for one hour.
  2. Incorporate starters by squeezing into dough with wet hands until smooth and feel no lumps then knead for 5 mins (I used a gentle slap and fold because of the amount of spelt). Rest dough for five mins. Incorporate salt and knead for a further five mins.
  3. Bulk ferment three hours with three stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 1.5hrs.
  4. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  5. Final proof was roughly two hours at room temperature (23°).
  6. Bake in preheated dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then a further 10 mins at 200°C. I then removed it from dutch oven and baked for a further 25 mins directly on stone for even browning.

 This is such pleasant dough to work with. Spelt and rye bran are flecked throughout. The kneading and folding gives strength so the shaped loaves hold themselves proudly before being placed in bannetons.

I had massive oven spring considering the amount of freshly milled wholemeal flours … the “Pip” was very pleased.

I played again with the scoring this week. My partner’s nickname is “Rat” so in her ratty honour I scored one of the loaves with a giant “R” … the “Rat” was very pleased.

The flavour for me is a balance between the tang in the rye and subtleness of a wheat starter. This not a boring bread, but it does not dominate the senses either.

… and after a busy day in the kitchen I prepared a simple lunch before we headed outside to continue the rest of our day in the spring sunshine.

Cheers, Phil (and the Rat)

 

 

 

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture

Sifting your troubles away?

January 9, 2010 - 8:03am -- Erzsebet Gilbert
Forums: 

So, in my past few weeks of baking, I've begun to sift my flour before adding it to the mix - I've only been making loaves I've made many times before, by the way.  I started doing it in an attempt to make my measurements more exact, but it seems that the crumb has improved since I've started to sift.  Am I only fooling myself here, or does sifting it really make a difference?  Just curious.... thanks!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Home Milled and Sifted Wheat Montana Sourdough

Home Milled and Sifted  Wheat Montana Sourdough

My adventures in home milling and sifting continue. Most recently, I did fairly extensive additional test milling and sifting of Wheat Montana Bronze Chief hard red spring berries. In the past, I regularly used flour from two main sources: Heartland Mill, and Wheat Montana. Heartland Mill is a good source of hard red and hard white winter wheat flour and berries. Wheat Montana is a good source of hard red and hard white spring wheat flour and berries. After sending test flours from the milling and sifting session with Wheat Montana Bronze chief hard red spring wheat berries, I wanted to follow that with a "production run" and some test baking. I've already posted a fairly unusual "Reconstituted Mash Bread" made from Wheat Montana hard white and red spring wheat berries. The following is a more ordinary sourdough made from high extraction flour from the same milling session.

A spreadsheet in xls and html format is posted with the recipe and the sourdough timing. Additional photos are posted.

The formula is again much the same as previous test bakes. It consists of a levain contributing 15% fermented flour to total recipe flour made with equal quantities of sifted rye, sifted spelt, and freshly milled and sifted  "cream flour" from my milling session, combined with an overnight soaker of the remaining dough ingredients, which is the remaining "cream flour", 2% salt, about 76.5% water, and 1% malt syrup. The estimated ash content of my "cream flour" is about 1.1%, so it is similar once again to previous high extraction flours that I model after Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo flour.

The bread had some large and small holes, as the dough at 76.5% hydration was a little softer than I expected. As before, it takes some experience to learn the amount of water that my home milled and sifted flours will absorb. I slightly overestimated the amount of water in this case and ended up with a bread more reflective of a fairly soft and wet dough. The crumb was light and flavorful, which was expected, since I've had excellent results from Wheat Montana Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief flours in the past.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Reconstituted Whole Grain Mash Bread

This is a recipe idea I've wanted to try since I started milling and sifting my own flour. My milling and sifting process results in a few grades of flour and bran, but in total they represent the entire contents of the whole grain. My idea was to process the different grades of flour in different ways, hopefully resulting in a better whole grain bread. In particular, I very much enjoyed the flavor and texture of the mash bread recipe from WGB by Peter Reinhart, which I blogged a while ago. This recipe is derived from the mash bread recipe and some other ideas in WGB, but it takes advantage of the fact that I have available various separate components of the whole grain flour. The resulting bread, made as described below, is very good, maybe my favorite whole grain bread so far.

I've posted a spreadsheet in xls and html format showing the recipe and sourdough timing. I'm not providing a whole recipe in the blog in this case. Since the ingredients will vary so much, and I used particular output from my milling and sifting process, it's more of an idea than a recipe. Anyone who tries it will have to carefully read WGB's mash bread recipe, look at my spreadsheet, and then make up a recipe to fit available ingredients and/or sifting equipment. I've also posted some additional photos.

To make this bread, I first simmered the bran and very dark coarse granular flour from my milling and sifting process for a few minutes. The idea is to soften the high fiber components of the whole grain flour. Then, when the simmer cooled to about 165F, I added "golden flour", which is higher ash content flour from the first and last siftings. I maintained the temperature at around 150-155 for a couple of hours to get a dark, sweet mash. The mash was refrigerated. Meanwhile, I fermented a levain of whole rye, whole spelt, and some of the whiter flour from my sifting process. In the morning I combined the mash, the levain, and all the remaining whiter flour from my sifting process along with some salt and malt syrup to make the final dough, which rose and was baked later in the day.

Admittedly, this is difficult to duplicate at home unless you have a couple of fine sieves and access to a coarse stoneground whole grain flour. However, a similar recipe should be possible by separating out the bran and larger particles with a fine sieve, simmering that, then adding some of the remaining flour to make the mash, then using all the remaining flour in the final dough.

Using store bought ingredients, another similar version could be to use store bought bran for simmering, a high extraction artisan flour (like Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo) for the mash, and white flour for the remainder. Yet another version might be to use store bought bran for the simmer, store bought wheat germ and white flour for the mash, and white flour for the remaining flour. Or, it would probably work to use store bought bran for the simmer, whole wheat flour for the mash, and white flour and store bought wheat germ for the remainder. All of the above are the same in spirit, which is to reconstitute the components of whole wheat flour in total, while simmering separately the coarser bran, mashing darker flour, and then adding lighter flour to the final dough.

Very roughly, the bran should constitute some 10-15% of the recipe, the dark flour added into the mash should be about 25% of the total flour, and the rest should be lighter flour. Wheat germ, if used, should total about 3% of the weight of flour. Evaporation and some mash left in the pan means you have to estimate the remaining water and flour in the mash, in order to then have the right amounts of flour and water in the remainder of the recipe. Another interesting flour to try in the mash, if you are going with a store bought duplication, is first clear flour. The character of the "darker" flour I added to my mash is somewhat like first clear flour.

Also, as in all the WGB recipes, you could easily make this a yeasted recipe by replacing my levain with a yeasted biga and adding some yogurt or other fermented milk product to bring up the levels of fermentation acids in the final dough.

The resulting bread has a soft, dense crumb, which is normal for mash bread. However, the unique flavor from the mash and the soft, spongey texture more than make up for the somewhat more dense crumb. The lighter color results from the fact I milled and sifted a 50/50 combination of Wheat Montana Prairie Gold and Wheat Montana Bronze Chief. The Prairie Gold berries are hard white spring wheat berries, which have a much lighter color of bran, resulting in a lighter color. I also prefer a mixture of white and red wheats, which results in a milder but not bland flavor that I prefer to either 100% red wheat or 100% white wheat. The more dense and soft crumb makes it an excellent bread for sandwiches or to use with tahini, peanut butter, honey, and so on. I had some this morning for breakfast, and it is one of my favorite whole grain breads, if not the all time favorite.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

In order to fine tune my milling and sifting process, I ran a series of tests at different mill coarseness settings to see which setting might result in the best separation of bran from endosperm. I then ran a successive reduction multi-pass milling and sifting process at what appeared to be the best first pass settings and sent samples of all these tests to CII Labs to see what some of the ash content, protein content, and dough rheology might be. I also sent in some samples of Heartland Mill flours to use as a reference, since these are the types of flour I would like to emulate with my home milling process. In fact, I use Heartland Mill Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries in all these milling tests.

The equipment and general process has been described in previous blog entries on home milling and sifting.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5518/home-milled-and-sifted-sourdough

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5436/home-milling-and-sifting-two-more-tries

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5357/home-milled-high-extraction-sourdough-miche

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5427/home-ash-content-measurement

The processing is accomplished using a Meadows 8 Inch Stone Mill and a Meadows Eccentric Sifter, as well as a sieve shaker that can stack several 12 inch diameter stainless steel or brass sieves of US standard sizes.

The CII Lab results for the initial test of varying coarseness settings of the mill have sample descriptions such as "P1 open 1/3 turn 35-50". The P1 is just a label for the setting of the mill, which is listed next. At 1/3 turn, the mill stones are separated by about 1/2 a grain width. Similarly 1/6 turn would be about 1/4 of a grain width, and so on. The numbers at the end refer to the size of the sieves used. So, a sample labeled 35-50 went through a US standard number 35 sieve and was caught in the US standard number 50 sieve.

The CII Lab results for the second test start with a first pass with a 1/6 turn opening, which seemed to be a good setting to get good initial separation of bran from endosperm in the initial tests to determine the best first pass mill coarseness setting. The sample descriptions have labels like "P2a <70" or "P1 40-80m". The P2a is the label of the pass in the process described in the process flow chart for this milling session. The "<70" refers to product that went through the US standard number 70 sieve in the stack of sieve shakers used for all but the first pass.

On the first pass, "P1", the Meadows Eccentric Sifter was used. It has sifter sections specified by the mesh size of the screens in the three sections of the sifter. So, the "40-80m" refers to flour that went through the 40 mesh section and was caught in the 80 mesh section.It so happens that due to the wire diameters of the material used in the screens, the 26m section has about the same opening size as a US standard number 20 sieve, the 40m section has about the same opening size as a US standard number 35 sieve, the 60 mesh (not used in this session) is about the same opening size as a US standard number 50 sieve, and finally the 80 mesh screen has the same opening size as a US standard number 70 sieve. So, in order to simulate the use of the Meadows sifter in subsequent passes with my smaller sieve shaker that is just more practical for these smaller amounts, I used US standard numbers 20,35,50, and 70 sieves in the stack.

I also include a spreadsheet (xls, html formats) that summarizes the results of the milling session. On the "model" sheet, there is an attempt to model what would happen at other mill settings than the one I used, based on data from the initial runs at various coarseness settings and my guesses about how the subsequent millings would go. All of that may not be very useful, except to me. However, the "model" sheet also shows a summary of the basic ash content output of each stream from the process I ran.

The flour streams with ash content around 1% had very reasonable rheological properties, which makes sense, since I was able to make some very nice breads very similar to what would have been possible with Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo flour. The stream of lower ash content flour seemed to have low mixing tolerance, so I must have inadvertently separated out some important components of proteins needed to form good quality gluten. This tells me I can create a flour with an ash content of somewhere around .85% by mixing some of the other higher protein streams with the very low ash stream to get an off-white flour that is whiter than Golden Buffalo, yet still will create a strong enough dough. I suspect that using the lowest ash stream by itself might result in a dough that doesn't have the best baking properties, since the farinograph showed weak mixing tolerance relative to the other Heartland Mill products or my own higher ash content flours more similar to Golden Buffalo.

Additional Results From Wheat Montana Berries Milling Session (added 2/26/08)

I conducted a similar series of milling tests with Wheat Montana Bronze Chief berries, which are hard red spring wheat berries. I wanted to see if the process would go differently with the harder berries and if this would suggest changes to the process of the mill settings and sifting approach.

A flow chart of this milling session, very similar to the last, other than the addition of a fourth pass, has been posted. The preliminary report from CII Lab (now updated to final as of 3/6/08) is also posted. The nomenclature for the various passes is similar to above. However, the various tests of the "first pass" are labeled with letters. For example, a label of "PA 35-50 1/12 Turn" refers to a first pass test using a mill setting of 1/12 turn (1/3 turn is about 1/2 berry width in the separation of the stones, so 1/12 Turn would be a stone separation of about 1/8 of a berry width), and the 35-50 refers to product that fell through the #35 sieve and was caught in the #50 sieve.

The numbered passes refer to the multipass milling process in the flow chart above, which was used to create various grades of flour, bran, and red granular product.

I also include an updated version of the spreadsheet (xls, html formats) mentioned above that summarizes the results of the Wheat Montana milling session in two addition sheets ("WMactual" and "WMmodel"). On the "WMmodel" sheet, there is an attempt to model what would happen at other mill settings than the one I used, based on data from the initial runs at various coarseness settings and my guesses about how the subsequent millings would go. All of that may not be very useful, except to me. However, the "WMmodel" sheet also shows a summary of the basic ash content output of each stream from the process I ran. The "WMactual" sheet summarizes the actual results for the settings used, but it adjusts for the fact I removed some of the intermediate products to send in as samples for testing at the lab. The model is not exactly what I did, but it is a better description of what would happen if the intermediate samples had not been removed as I conducted the milling session.

Overall, what I discovered is that a finer setting on the mill seemed neccessary to get about the same breakout between "bran", "coarse red granules", "coarse white granules", and "cream flour", which is a rough way of describing 4 products that seem to be produced when I mill berries using a fairly coarse setting for the mill (1/6 turn of the screw from when the stones just touch, corresponding to about 1/4 of a grain width).

Also, I am becoming aware of the fact that there is a threshold effect in the mill setting that has a big impact on the separation of the bran and the yield of white granules that seem to then yield flour with the lowest ash content when remilled and sifted. Only the slightest change in the coarseness setting around the 1/6 turn setting for HRW or at about the 1/8 turn setting for HRS berries seems to make an enormous difference in the relative yield of "white granules" in the first pass of the mill. If the initial pass is too coarse, then result is much more bran attached to large granules, and if the setting is too fine, then the result is too much high ash content flour in the first pass, and less yield of white granules, consequently reducing any chance to extract lower ash content flour in the second milling steps.

I was also struck by the variation in protein and ash content of the berries sent in for testing. I'm wondering if there is a more accurate test or larger sample size needed for the grain in order to get more consistent results. The ash content and protein levels for the berries weren't as expected. For example, the HRS berries (Bronze Chief) from Wheat Montana should have had a higher protein content than the results on the tests show. Also, the HWS berries (Prairie Gold) had an inordinately low ash and protein content than what is normally said to prevail with this type of wheat berry. So, either the tests aren't revealing the true levels for some reason, or the wheat berries vary much more than I thought. Unfortunately, this will require convincing someone at the lab or another expert in this somewhat esoteric area to take a charitable interest in educating me.

Tempering may need to be adjusted for these berries, and I may have learned something new about the tempering time. First of all, it seemed to me that the berries milled as if they needed a little more moisture content. The amount of ash is larger overall. My sense was that the berries and the flour seemed dry. Although I added enough moisture to reach a moisture content over 14%, the moisture content tested at only 13.3%, which may have resulted from letting the berries sit for a little over 48 hours. The tempering period may have been long enough to allow some moisture to escape. Possibly these harder berries have trouble absorbing the moisture, which makes it more available to evaporate from the surface over a period of time. The lids on my tempering containers are probably not perfectly air tight, so moisture may escape very slowly over a period of time. Next time, the tempering for Wheat MT HRS and HWS berries will be conducted in two steps. First, enough moisture will be added to bring the berries to 14% moisture content. Then, in a subsequent step about 24 hours later, the berries will be tested and enough moisture will be added to bring the berries to around 14.5% moisture content followed by an additional 24 hours before milling the berries.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough Crumb

Home Milled and Sifted Sourdough Loaf

The home milling and sifting adventure continues. My most recent effort felt like a big step forward in several ways. Tempering, based on some suggestions by proth5 in response to a previous blog entry, was explored. Multiple successively finer passes of the mill were used this time, including re-milling of the sifted results from various steps in the process. Home ash content tests were performed, to understand better the distribution of bran and outer seed coat particles across the various outputs of my milling process. The outputs were then blended to a desired ash content and a sourdough loaf was baked. Photos of the process are posted, as well as a video of the tempering system I rigged up at the last minute (this is more for entertainment, but it may have helped). A process flow chart is posted showing the steps followed to mill and sift this flour, as well as a spreadsheet showing the ash content analysis for the various outputs of the milling process.

Notes on the Bread

The recipe for the sourdough loaf is similar to that for previous blog entries except no whole wheat was used in the levain and the rye was lightly sifted through a #25 sieve to remove the larger bran particles. A levain was prepared with 15% fermented flour as a percentage of total flour in the dough. The rye flour was 5% of the total flour, and the remainder of the flour was the home milled and sifted blend from this adventure. The rye flour went into the levain. The hydration was 79%, which proved to be too high. I realize the water absorption is in between whole wheat and white flour, so I probably would have been happier with a hydration around 74%. The resulting dough was closer to a ciabatta dough than I was intending, but the bread that resulted was wonderful. I was using my brick oven for some braising earlier in the day, which forced me to refire the oven in an attempt to bring up the temperature. I mismanaged the heat a little, which caused the somewhat scorched bottoms of the loaves you see in the photos. The resulting bread had a much lighter crumb than previous attempts, showing that I was much more effective at separating out the dark from light components of the berry.

Tempering

Based on a great suggestion from proth5, I explored tempering the wheat berries before starting to mill. Proth5 added 2% water to the berries. Some discussion in "Wheat Flour Milling" by Posner and Hibbs suggested 14%-17% moisture content. A Delmhorst G7 Grain Moisture Meter was used on Heartland Mill "Milling Wheat (M2 product)" and found to have a 10.6% moisture content. I decided to split the recommendations of proth5 and the suggestions in "Wheat Flour Milling" and added enough water to the grain to bring the moisture content to 14%. In a later discussion with a representative of Meadows Mills (my mill is a Meadows 8 inch stone mill), 14% was considered a touch too high, and 13% was suggested as a reasonable moisture content for my mill. So, Proth5 suggestions were very good, but by then I had already added the water to the berries.

Concern for very even moisture distribution motivated a couple of strategies for tempering the wheat. First, an atomizer was used to spray the water a few grams at a time onto berries, stirring in between sprayings to initially do a good job spreading the water evenly throughout the grain. I then borrowed the rotisserie from my outdoor grill, and rigged it in my workshop to be able to mount a plastic container of grain on it. In order to rotate the grain for a few hours without putting undue strain on the rotisserie, it was counterbalanced by attaching some small, heavy vices on the counterweight, which was too small on its own. A video of the contraption is available, as it is hard to describe accurately, but easy to understand once you see the video. The rotisserie was used for a few hours until the wheat seemed fairly dry to the touch. It was then allowed to sit for about 30 hours before milling.

Multiple Pass Milling and Sifting

After reading some of the chapter on milling in "Wheat Flour Milling" and browsing through various diagrams of milling processes, I took a wild shot at doing what I could as a complete novice to approximate the processes in a general way with my Meadows 8 Inch Stone Mill, and a series of sieves stacked in a Sieve Shaker. The equipment is described in an earlier blog entry.

The basic idea was to first mill very coarsely to separate the bran gently from the rest of the berry, followed by sifting out the flour from the darker material, followed by re-milling and re-sifting the darker material to obtain more flour. True to the discussions in "Wheat Flour Milling", the whiter flour was extracted from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th passes, not from the first pass. I was surprised to discover this, but the ash content results showed much lower ash content for passes 2-5, particularly for the flour extracted from 3rd and 4th passes.

Passes 1-4 were successive, meaning that the "coarse red material" sifted from the #40 or #60 sieve was re-milled and resifted in series. In pass 5 the coarser results of passes 2 and 4 were mixed, re-milled, and re-sifted. In pass 6 the very coarse, mostly bran output caught in a #40 sieve was re-milled and re-sifted.

A process flow chart is posted that shows the details of the milling and sifting procedure followed.

Ash Content and Blending

Six flours, two coarse red "products", and 1 "bran" were the final results of all the milling and sifting above. Home ash content tests were performed on all of those products, as well as on sample saved from some of the intermediate steps. A spreadsheet is posted showing the results of the ash content measurements.

The results show that the flour through a #60 sieve that looks very much like Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo has a very high ash content. It was the flour from passes 2,3,4, and 5 that went through a #60 sieve that ended up having lower ash content. The flour from pass 1 had an ash content of 1.4%, not that far from whole wheat. In earlier one or two pass attempts, the ash content was probably closer to 1.4%, which explains the almost whole wheat quality of the breads from my first two tries. The ash content of passes 2 and 5 was around 1%, a little lower than Golden Buffalo flour from Heartland Mill. The flour from passes 3 and 4 was lowest, around .7% and much closer to a white flour, which might be something like .55%.

In the spreadsheet I created blends of the various outputs, so that I could get the ash content desired. As it turns out, by combining all the "flours" and leaving out all the coarse red and bran products, an ash content around 1.1%, maybe a little lower but very comparable to Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo would be obtained. So, all the flours were blended to obtain the flour used in the bread pictured above. This bread was clearly lighter than previous attempts. The dough handled much more like white flour, created a satin smooth surface texture, and seemed strong and extensible. The yield was much higher than in previous attempts, 85% of the final products and 81.5% of the weight of the berries before tempering, yet the ash content was lower than flour obtained in previous attempts that only yielded around 65% of the initial weight of the berries.

Nutritional Editorial Comment

Sifting, as done here, does remove some of the bran, outer layers, and germ from the flour. However, since the ash content is around 1.1% and whole wheat is around 1.7%, it can be argued that around 2/3 of the outer layers is making it into this flour. So, although it is not a pure whole grain flour, it still has much of the material from the outer layers. By dusting the loaf with the bran, further fiber is added. As a results, this bread should contain a significant proportion of the nutritional benefits of freshly milled whole grain flour. For me, it's worth doing this to be able to enjoy breads with lighter flavors and textures closer to white flours, without much loss of the nutritional values and freshness of milled-on-demand flour.

A More Practical Approach (Maybe)

Many of you may immediately view this little adventure as very impractical - with good justification, too. However, it at least is an example of creating flour of various grades at home, a drastically scaled down version of what happens in a real mill, doable at home, even if a little too large for the majority of home bakers.

I believe a simple version of this could use one #60 sieve and one #40 sieve and a Retsel Stone Mill or other similar mill that provides good control of the coarseness of the flour output. If set to much coarser settings, multiple passes could be performed on the coarse results caught in the #40 and #60 sieves. The sifting could be done by hand, even in quantities up to around 2Kg, although it is a little tedious and laborious. Maybe only 3-4 passes would be done, to minimize the labor, but the results of running tempered berries through at a coarser setting, and then re-milling more finely the coarse results caught in the sieve and re-sifting should allow the extraction of a reasonable flour similar to Golden Buffalo, just as shown above.

Where From Here

Even with a sieve shaker, the sifting is the most tedious and time consuming part of this process. The milling for all the steps combined for about 2Kg of berries was probably only about 10-15 minutes. The milling goes very quickly. However, the sifting drags on for 20 minutes at a time at first. Later steps are quite fast, and the last couple of passes can be done more quickly by hand, given the reduced amount of product.

I've ordered a Meadows Mill Eccentric Sifter (Goetter, hehe?) to add to the burgeoning list of equipment in the workshop. My hope is that this will make the sifting take only minutes at a time, more comparable and well matched to the milling speeds. Of course, this is all massive overkill for home baking. Yes, massive, massive overkill, no question. However, it is a hobby pursued with passion that may not always make sense in practical terms. It is the beauty of the home engineering, the resourcefulness required, and the delicious freshness of the bread that all contribute to the enjoyment.

Another remaining nagging missing piece of the puzzle is a flour analysis tool that would allow more thorough understanding of all the outputs, such as protein content, moisture content, water absorption, and ash content. Maybe I've figured out the ash content using the conductivity method described previously, but it seems to take a good 12-24 hours to get useful results from it. I'd like to be able to get quick turn-around for these measurements, in order to optimize the milling and sifting strategies.

Update (1/28/07)

Loaves Made With Flour From Meadows Sifter

Loaves Made With Flour From Meadows Sifter - Crust

I received the Meadows Eccentric Sifter (see video) and conducted a milling, sifting, and baking session (see photos), as well as some home ash content tests to check out the results with the new sifter. The Meadows sifter is far faster than my original approach with a sieve shaker and produces 4 separations simultaneously with great ease.

The sieve shaker had some advantages, in retrospect. You could inspect the results easily and fine-tune the sifting strategy very easily and quickly. Also, very little product is lost using the mining sieves, which is valuable for the smaller amounts I tend to do each time. The Meadows Sifter kept a couple of pounds in it, probably in the nooks and crannies of the wooden sieves and some built up on the fabric sleeves used to transport the flour. The Meadows Sifter made it more difficult to inspect or change the sifting process, as the sieves are tightly bolted down with wing nuts on long threaded rods. You can open it up, but it's much more time consuming than it is to detach and separate the mining sieves.

In this milling session, I tempered the wheat to a 13% moisture content. The tempering process was shortened to only 12 hours as a result of impatience to test out the sifter. The first pass through the Meadows 8 Inch Mill was troublesome. The breaker tripped even though I had the mill set to a fairly wide opening of about 1/8 turn on the adjustment screw. After several tries, I was able to complete the first pass with the screw open between 1/4 and 1/8 turn. A while later, I tried running untempered wheat at 10.6% moisture content through the mill, and it also had a tendency to jam the mill. Since I really don't have the slightest idea what the right opening is for the first pass through the mill, I'm not sure what to conclude. On the one hand, the milling went very smoothly with wheat tempered to 14% moisture content for more than 24 hours. On the other hand, the Meadows representative seemed very clear that 13% moisture content or less was preferred for the Meadows Mill. However, when I used less moisture and less tempering, the milling seemed more difficult on the first pass. All subsequent passes were uneventful, even on the finest settings.

After completing the milling session, I ran some home ash content tests. Clearly the yield of lower ash content white flours was much lower. I believe this again had to do with using lower moisture content wheat tempered for a shorter time. The flours seemed more like my earlier attempts with the Retsel mill, where one or two passes with untempered wheat berries resulted in a flour much closer to a whole wheat flour.

The sense that the flours were darker was corroborated by the home ash content tests, which showed the flour coming the the #60 sieve had an ash content almost as high as Heartland Mills WW flour (I'm making my flour with Heartland Mills "Milling Wheat (M2)". Output from subsequent passes had an ash content close to 1%, whereas in my earlier attempt with 14% moisture content 24 hour tempered berries, the flour from passes 3-4 that was the whitest had an ash content of about .75%. I think this explains why my earlier one or two pass attempts made loaves that seemed so much more like whole wheat loaves than my more recent multi-pass attempts with well tempered 14% moisture content wheat.

In order to get a flour something like Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo, I had to accept a lower yield this time. The home ash content tests take at least 24 hours of soaking, so I used color and inspection of the flour, plus the knowledge that the middle passes would be lower in ash content to blend the outputs to get a flour of the same approximate "color" as the Golden Buffalo. My "high touch" method came out to have an ash content almost equal to that of Golden Buffalo, but my yield was only about 65% this time, whereas I had a lower ash content with close to 80% yield in my earlier attempt with berries at 14% moisture content and tempered for more than 24 hours.

The loaves were made without any diastatic barley powder this time, and the crumb had no hint of gumminess. The color of the crust stayed slightly lighter than before. The gluten seemed a little better this time, which makes me wonder if the protein content or quality from this session was slightly better. It's hard to say, because I reduced the hydration based on the previous results, and this dough may have behaved well just because of more optimal hydration. However, maybe the gluten quality is somehow improved due to the different ash content, tempering method, and sifting method.

The loaves that resulted were very good. As noted above, the crumb was a touch darker than the last one, which correlates with the higher ash content measurement. However, the crumb was still much closer to a white bread, similar to the last one, as opposed to earlier attempts that were clearly closer to a whole wheat bread.

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