The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Johnbbq's picture

Wheat Montana four is superior to just Organic Flour

Some serious mis-information has been posted about the products of Wheat Montana and their products.


To have a "Certified Organic" label a product must meet certain minimum standards.   The producers must be inspected and use only natural fertilizers and no chemicals to have this label.  Period!  

The law does not recognize those producers that go beyond that standard, that produce superior products.  This is why What Montana does not advertise that they are certified organic.   Their flour is certified to be chemical free of well over a 100 known chemicals after it is milled in the latest high tech flour mill.  They do not use chemical fertilizers.  In addition they use NO animal manure.  They will not risk the spread of any bacteria into their products at all.   (Remember some of the recent problems with organic products that had salmonella from manure?)   The grain produced by Wheat Montana goes directly to their own flour mill and directly to the consumer.   Few other flour producers can deliver any product this pure!!!

In addition Wheat Montana uses no Genetically Modified grain whatsoever.   Most flour millers try to achieve this but they have no way of really knowing the origin of their grain to grow the wheat.

This information is posted on their web site and on their menus and in their stores.   I quess if you cannot read and walk up and ask if they are organic, you will get a quick answer that they are not.   They are so much more than the minimum standards--Wheat Montana, in my opinion, if the Gold Standard of pure food.

I am a retired guy who loves to cook.  I do not work for What Montana.   I have been in a few hundred food production plants in my life.  The Organic label is a good guide for those that want food that is chemical free.   It is only a minimum guide and there are many marginal products on the shelves today that  survive only for their organic label, not for the quality of the product they sell.  

The food buyer should always be aware of the whole picture.   Many people pay extra for poor quality food that gets turned out under the shield of being organic.   Nothing in the Organic law says anything about the food quality or taste.   Always use common sense.

America is the land of plenty when it comes to food choices.   And there will always be leaders in food production and their will always be some that cut corners.   Witness the recent mess in peanut butter.

Wheat Montana grows, mills, bakes, sells their own product.  It is a marvelously successful family operation.   They only sell a few products.  The Prairie Gold whole wheat (whole grain) flour is a marvelous high protein, high fiber flour.   In a modern hammer mill, the flour is ground differently than most conventional mills.  Most people rave over the taste of this bread and are shocked to learn that it is whole grain.  I use it exclusively in all breads from Banana bread to Rye (I do add some rye flour) bread.   I challenge anyone to show me a better tasting product or healthy product.


Pster's picture

Can someone explain what a "soaker" is?

I've read about people using "soakers" - what exactly is that?

How do I incorporate that into making the bread?  When do I add it?


and also....

*why* would I use a "soaker" or that method?


If you could tell me all about it - I'd appreciate it! 


xaipete's picture

Why should a levain be used at the peak of ripeness?

There has been some discussion lately about how to tell when a levain is ripe, but why is it important that a levain be used when it if ripe? Why not use it when it is half-way ripe or 3/4rds ripe?


MommaT's picture

loving Hamelman's pain au levain with whole wheat!


Having been on the great quest for that perfect daily bread for my family, I think I'm getting closer.

I've been baking Hamelman's Pain au Levain now and again with mixed reviews from the family.  I recently tried the pain au levain with whole wheat and it has been a massive hit!  The flours here are split between 75% bread flour, 20% whole wheat flour and 5% medium rye.     My starter seems to really love the warmer weather of spring and this dough bursts to life.  I wish I had photos to show you!

One day, due to a cat who needed to be rushed to the vet, the dough sat in the fridge over night and was super!  It seems to be a very forgiving recipe.

I would encourage you to try it if you haven't already!



PS:  Hope to send pics next time!

SallyBR's picture

Walnut Levain Bread

Last weekend's bread was my first attempt at a recipe called "Pearl's Walnut Levain", from Artisan Bread Baking, Glezer's book


I highly recommend this recipe - I was a bit weary of the walnut halves, they seemed huge and difficult to knead in, I was afraid it would break the gluten strands and turn the bread into lead. Not at all. The crumb is a bit tighter than the sourdoughs I've been making, but still feels pretty light, especially considering the amount of nuts inside.


the bread still tasted quite fresh and moist after 3 days, which is an added bonus. It was spectacular with some Stilton cheese in it.  But we even enjoyed it to go along with some pasta with chicken parmiggiana, which seemed a bit of a strange combo  :-)


I show  four pictures, dough ready to get the walnuts mixed in, final rise before going in the clay pot, and two of the ready "boule"


driechel's picture

My new spiral mixer

Hello everyone,

yesterday my new spiral mixer arrived. I ordered it in Italy and me living in the Netherlands had to wait for over week for it to arrive. (DHL didn't understand my adress notation!) Anyway my patiences paid of. I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am with this mixer. After years of trying different mixer (all planetary) I hoped that I finally found the right mixer for me. And I can tell you I am pretty sure this is the one!
It is a spiral mixer with moving bowl and central shaft. It can mix from 500 grams up to 3000 grams of flour (so 5 kg of dough depending on amount of water). The engine is only 370 watt but the deep low sound it makes is uncomparable with my old kenwood chef of 800 watt (ok I have to admit that this mixer only has one gear and the kenwood has many more).
It took me 3 years to find out that a spiral mixer with a household size existed, so that is why I like to share it with you all. Maybe I can inspire some others.

For those interested here is a link to a movie I made of the mixer at work:


It comes from this store:
Click on kneading machines. It is the IMC5E model. (the smallest)

sharonk's picture

Gluten Free Brown Rice Starter Success




Why Boosted Brown Rice Starter?


When I first had to give up gluten I had successfully been making seven-day sourdough rye bread (unfortunately full of gluten) using 100% dark rye flour. This goopy no-knead bread had an easy starter routine: once a day for seven days. The starter bubbled quickly and was quite beautiful to watch grow. I thought I could transfer my rye bread sourdough baking knowledge to gluten free baking but after many failures (that ended up in the compost pile) I realized I had to experiment. A plain brown rice flour and water starter took almost 6 days to start showing signs of activity and often by that time it was molding. The heaviness of the rice flour causes the starter solids to sink leaving the liquid on top. It seems hard for the bacteria to make their way through the heavy solids. I consulted with a knowledgeable gluten free sourdough baker who suggested I feed the starter every 8 hours and use a fermented drink called "Water Kefir" right in the starter on the first day.  Water Kefir is a culture that is used to make a dairy free drink much like lemon soda. I purchased my grains and made the water kefir using water, sugar, raisins and lemon. It fermented in less than 48 hours and I put a few tablespoons of it into brown rice flour and water. I built the starter gradually feeding it every 8 hours until I had the amount I needed. I was happy to see activity beginning shortly after 48 hours. Each subsequent feeding created increasing activity with large and small bubbles and hissing sounds when I stirred it down. This very live starter easily leavened the bread recipe without the use of eggs, commercial yeast, baking soda, or baking powder which was of prime importance to me being allergic to eggs and sensitive to the other ingredients.


 I call this starter "Boosted Brown Rice Starter" because I have boosted its activity with Water Kefir.  I find I can get a dependable starter every time when I use water kefir as a booster.


Here are very succinct directions for making Water Kefir:

Nearly fill a wide mouth quart jar with water.

Add 2 tablespoons sugar, stirring to dissolve, 20 raisins and a slice of lemon or lime.

Add the contents of your bottle of water kefir grains into the quart jar.

Cover with a paper towel or cloth and secure with a rubber band. 

When raisins float to the top, scoop them and the lemon slice out and discard.

Ferment the water kefir for 6 more hours on the counter with the paper towel.

Then store in fridge and use as needed.

When you have used the liquid down to about an inch in the jar start a new batch in a new jar and pour the water kefir grains plus the liquid their in right into the new jar, cover and ferment.


Water Kefir is a good tonic that strengthens the digestive system. Drink in small amounts before meals.

2 tablespoons is enough for bread starter. Water kefir gets fizzy with time and reminds me of super healthy 7-Up! It's a good tonic being full of probiotics and enzymes.


Water Kefir grains are available at Cultures for Health.


Good Luck,




LindyD's picture

To toast or not to toast? That is the question.

I plan to start Hamelman’s five grain sourdough rye tonight, now that my KAF order arrived and I have high gluten flour.

While the recipe doesn’t call for it, have any of you who have  baked this bread toasted the sunflower seeds before making the soaker?  

Any reason not to?

jemar's picture

An Apology

I posted a message in the wrong place yesterday because I wasn't familiar with the way things work here! In the past I have only left comments on other users text and this was the first time I had started a thresd of my own. Also, I am not that 'au fait' with this technology being what we call in the UK a Silver Surfer!! I hope I am doing it right this time. What I wanted to do was post some pictures of rolls I made yesterday but I'm not sure I've got my head round that procedure yet, I've looked at FAQ but it says to look for the little tree, there's no tree that I can see. I'll persevere, I'll get there sometime!

RFMonaco's picture

Whole grain breads

Some really great looking and tempting bread shown here: