The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hand Milled White Flour Baguette

proth5's picture

Hand Milled White Flour Baguette

 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!


mountaindog's picture

Hey, Pat, those are some amazing baguettes! Beautiful scoring and the crumb looks pretty open from what I can tell. The fact that you cannot stop eating them is a very good sign as to the flavor. What an effort for you to have milled enough white flour to make this recipe!

All you need to do now is plant some winter wheat in your garden so you can do a "baguette, from seed to feed" write-up next :-)

One thing about the aging: so about 2 weeks was sufficient in winter? Did you keep the flour in a relatively warm location? Reason I'm asking is I obtained a large 20kg bag of "green" organic white "winterblend" flour from Bread Alone bakery down the road, milled by Meunerie Milanise in Quebec on Feb. 16. I stored it in the bag in my attic, and used it last weekend, after 4 weeks aging, in a Hamelman miche recipe. It was a slight disaster, the dough was like soup, it never soaked up the water, so I had a large pancake miche, that also had a rather "off" flavor. I'm not sure whether I should blame it on green flour, or just inconsistent flour quality, as another poster here (Tete au Levain) suggested. I made the same miche recipe this weekend with King Arthur AP flour and it came out perfect.

In any event, it looks as though your flour was aged well, esp. as it absorbed the water well in your dough.

proth5's picture

Do not even joke about doing a "seed to feed" - I have a small sample of knitted linen that I grew from seed, processed, spun and knitted so that I would have proof that I knew how to grow my own clothes.  That way madness lies...

As for aging flour - it does take longer to properly age at lower temperatures.  It has been unseasonably warm here in the Mile High City and my flour has been kept in what is possibly the warmest spot in the house.

The other thing to consider is that you are oxidizing the flour.  I kept my flour in open containers to maximize its exposure to oxygen. Depending on the air tightness of the bag you may wish to find alternate storage that will allow more air to get at the flour - or even stir it a bit to allow air to get to all of it. You might also try to artificially age it by using a very small amount of ascorbic acid in your next batch.

This certainly has been an interesting experiment.  I wish that I didn't have to choose between baking with the flour or sending it off to the lab to get the rheology results, but as long as I am hand milling, I have to make that choice.  I am looking forward to baking my next batch of flour - which by look/feel cannot be distinguished from KA AP.


leucadian's picture

I guess you could get carried away with this. How are your smelting and casting skills?

The scoring is beautiful. Did you make your own lame?

Seriously, I enjoy reading your only slightly obsessive posts. Well done all around.


proth5's picture

Don't joke - I do save seeds for some things from year to year. 

I have worked in both the steel and aluminum industries and oh, don't get me started thinking about that...

I actually sprung the big three bucks to get a "real" baker's blade holder.  I don't know why I spent all those years with improvised tools when the real thing was so inexpensive.

Thanks for the kind words.


mountaindog's picture

Pat - Thanks for the tip on letting the flour breathe well, it was stored in it's paper sack, but that may have not allowed for enough air circulation, I'll try stirring it up and moving it into different containers. I'll try the absorbic acid too and see if that helps.

Not madness at all, I fully understand your inclination toward self-sufficiency and being able to make something from raw materials, I am that way myself in some areas, it provides a sense of security to know how things are really made and where they come from. I don't know how to process flax, but I did used to want to get some cute little Jacob sheep and learn to spin wool...never got the sheep, but my dogs shed enough hair twice a year that I could certainly spin some wool from that if the need arose :-)

proth5's picture

I've also spun my share of dog hair.  It's much harder to spin than wool as it is somewhat slippery (spinning flax is a whole different thing).  The real downside is that even after being thoroughly washed it still gets that "wet dog" smell in humid weather.

It's interesting that you would mention spinning just now becasue I was just cleaning out my basement and once again wandered upon a wheel that I no longer want and no longer use (I have a much better and more versatile one that I would never part with.)  If you really would be interested we could discuss how it might migrate.  It was good enough in its day and I know a wheel can be a daunting investment... 

mountaindog's picture

Ha - I'm not surprised you've spun dog hair in addition to your many talents! I've heard about the wet dog smell from some friends who spun their malamute's hair into wool when they lived in Alaska. Thanks for the info on the wheel - I just sent you a PM.

subfuscpersona's picture

of all your blog posts. Home milling experiments - gotta love the wisdom of the experts.

Have I thanked you recently?

> if NO - I'm remiss - THANK YOU!

> if YES - Well, you deserve another - THANK YOU!

Re your most recent baking, it appears that you may have produced a version of "grey flour", basically a white flour with a  high ash content but not a large amount of bran.

A discussion on TFL re grey flour can be found at grey four

I'm totally fascinated. Looking forward to further posts...




proth5's picture

For the link and the kind words.  Although I'm just making this up as I go along.

I really need to get about the business of getting the equipment to measure ash content - or at least grinding a sample large enough to send to the lab.  What I mill every week is an 80-85% extraction flour.  Oh bother! the more I think about it the more I just need to get the samples milled and tested.

The more I consider how my dough acted and felt during the process, the more I think that I must malt the next batch.  This white flour business is a bit more complex than "hippie whole wheat."

gosiam's picture

I am looking at them with admiration.  The scoring is amazing.  Can you explain the set up for steaming that you use.  The bloom is so beautiful.  I will say nothing about the flour... you are at such advanced level that it is best for me to just listen and try to learn.

Thank you.


proth5's picture

Thanks for the kind words.

Actually, some of thet grigne comes from underproofing - which is a lesson in balance - excess grigne, slightly tight crumb.

I have a Hearthkit insert in my gas oven and a heavy metal pan in the bottom.  After loading the bread, I pour a cup or so of water into the pan and spray water (using a small pressure sprayer - like the ones sold in garden supply stores) onto the surfaces of the Hearthkit.  I will add that I use a metal Haws watering can with the rose removed to pour the water in the pan.  The long spout on the watering can keeps me safe from the steam and allows me to deliver a very precise stream of water to the pan and away from my oven glass.  I obviously have a lot of gardening equipment that gets reused for bread baking.  I don't recommend this for everyone, but it is easy enough for me to manage...

Many people get excellent results by covering their bread with a pan during the first few minutes of baking.

As for the flour - I'm no expert - as I said, I'm making this up as I go along.

Hope this helps.