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Can anyone appease my frustration with home milled all-purpose or bread flour?

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Deu1118's picture
Deu1118

Can anyone appease my frustration with home milled all-purpose or bread flour?

I have been searching high and low for information on home milling and mixing my own bread and all-purpose flour to no avail. I realize that there are all sorts of factors from environmental to the mechanics of milling in a particular machine. What I don't get is why anyone doesn't ever seem to answer the question of "how to do it" with a basic-get-started-in-the-right-direction recipe or instruction. It seems to me like it is some great secret right next to Area 51 or something. I don't mind messing with the flour or grind or any of that. But let's get real...no one can eat that much bread to discover how to do it in a short period of time. I don't want to spend the rest of my life guessing whether I am doing the right procedures or steps or not. I am hoping someone will have mercy on me and help me get moving in the right direction. I don't want them to do it all for me, just help me get moving. If I sound a bit frustrated, well...I am. Here is what I don't understand... When I use King Arthur all-purpose flour for example in my recipe, I get a poofy, soft, spongy tasty bread right.? What I know is King Arthur flour is like 12% protein. When I try to grind my own wheat to make flour, I mix soft white and hard white and sift out the bran to try to duplicate it and make my recipe I end up with a PUCK!!! It tastes great, but does not have the textual qualities. What am I doing wrong? Will a veteran please have mercy on me?

Blessings!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I imagine the topic is complex enough that it's not going to be completely answered here, so I did a basic search at Amazon and found the following


http://www.amazon.com/Flour-Power-Guide-Modern-Milling/dp/0970540116


You can look inside the book and see if it would be of any interest/benefit.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Not a "veteran", but I do know that KA AP is made from all hard winter wheat, and since that is your reference, that is at least one factor. Depending on the protein in your particular berries, that soft portion may be bringing your protein levels way down.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Has a very long section on milling wheat. It's a bit technical but probably what you're after. For one thing, you really need to use the hard, hardest winter wheat (or hard spring) wheat that you can find.


Also, fresh ground may need some diastatic malt added to it (not the whole wheat but the white) from what I gather in reading "Bread" so you might try that as well. When you buy white flour at the store this has already been done which allows them to ship it and avoid the "aging" process that it otherwise requires. Gets pretty technical regarding falling numbers and all of that, I'll let you read it in his words.


It's not just the protein that you are dealing with but the enzymes, thus try reading Hamelman's explanation for the full story.


The other option-try milling, sifting and storing the white flour for a few weeks to see if this helps. But, then you lose some of the nutrition you would otherwise gain from fresh milled flour. I'm also not sure that just sifting is exactly making "white" flour.


I prefer the hard red wheat. I seem to get a better rise on my whole wheat breads vs the white wheats. Not sure if it's higher in proteins or what. It seems like if I bake the same recipe using whole wheat white or regular whole wheat I will get a stronger dough and better rise from the regular whole wheat. This has held true with either King Arthur or the flour I've gotten from Flourgirl51.


Just planning on grinding my own flour starting today so can't help you that much on anything else, although I've been doing lots of reading.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

completely what you are going through. I was there a few years ago. I have the Flour Power book and you may get more out of it than I did but I'm sad to tell you that I ended up through trial and error coming up with my own mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour that got me where I wanted to go.


Check this thread out and see if this is maybe what you are looking for.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17703/what-are-principles-lightersofter-crumb

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

...is entirely different from commercial unbleached white flour such as King Arthur all -purpose flour. If I understand your frustration, you're trying to produce a home-milled flour that performs in a similar way in your bread baking as a flour (KA AP) that you're both familiar with and produces a bread that you like.


We could probably help you best if you posted the recipe and instructions for the bread that you like to bake with KA all-purpose. (Hopefully you measure by weight.) Also, tell us what grain mill you use.


I honestly think you're on the wrong path if you're trying to make home milled flour "behave" the same way as a commercial (unbleached) all-purpose or bread flour. I'm trying to encourage you, not discourage you. You can make good bread with home milled flour but it does require some rethinking of how you go about developing your dough.


Please post back.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Home milling is mostly either Burr milling, stone milling or micronizer(impact milling), which does not produce very fine flour consistancy without damaging starch. Milling in stages, with sifting out smaller particles will help keep flour cool, and prevent starch damage, but commercial mills have large cylindrical rollers which crack the wheat and mill it in stages to very fine consistency without ever heating up the flour.


Mind you, starch damage will produce a flour with too much carbohydrates turning into sugars, which also means premature dough breakdown, and ultimately a slack dough.


Furthermore, mills have their grains checked for any sprouting damage, and they temper their grains if hydration is not enough (to mellow the endosperm, and prevent heat generated from high friction during milling). King Arthur also use exclusively the best grains, and the freshest, and they age their flour for 12 hours at least before selling them, which enhances flour performance.


Your mixing, kneading, fermentation also must differ while using Freshly milled, as it absorbs more water.


Your methods of fermentation and shaping also add in.


Hope that helps


Khalid 

proth5's picture
proth5

my blogs on home milling on these pages (type proth5 into the search function and you'll eventually find my entries on milling).  Read aslo Bwraith's blogs (I miss my old milling buddy...)


Read also my entry on the Heartland Mill.


I've read the "Flour Power" book - it is mostly a justification for home milling whole wheat - it is not helpful in any regard for more advanced home milling.


I have home milled all white flour that performs pretty much like KA AP.  (I did have to malt it, though.)  I do write about this in my blogs.


I've sent my flour out for lab tests and I get a reasonable amount of starch damage (not too much, not too little) with my methods. 


I also get some resonable farinograph numbers.


Some day I'll mill up a batch for alveograph testing, but have not so far...


I use only hard wheat (either white or red) and I would advise that if you want to make your own "all purpose flour" to stick with all hard wheat.  I have recently been reminded that the protein number is not the be all and end all to judge flour's baking qualities.


I wanted to respond to you because there is a lot of material on this site.  However, I have just gotten off a some long flights and am pretty tired,  So after you have read the available material we can pick up on specifics either on this thread or by message.


But here's the bad news.  For the home miller it is kind of trial and error - there is literature for large stone mills and for roller mills, but no one has written much about advanced home milling.


We do need to know what kind of mill you have.


Happy Baking!


 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

 

This is a long post and your frustration is understandable.  So a few pointers that helped me along the way:

I've always ground my hard wheat (and whole rye) in the same impact Wondermill- going on 15 years and hundreds of loaves using both stone and bread pans. There is a lot of refinement that will come with experience, but you need good wheat and gluten development to end up with a good loaf- and ensuring you have enough moisture so you do not end up with a brick. 

My milling takes place the night before baking using a fine setting.  No straining or sifting. Generally I will make breads with 30% white bread flour, preferred by my children vs. 100% whole wheat.  The remaining 70% is generally 10% fresh ground rye and 60% my fresh ground whole wheat.  I always use high protein hard red organic wheat.  The wheat is likely your culprit as soft wheat (red or white) will not hold up.  And I would start with a 50/50 blend of white to wheat as a beginner and move towards better grain.  I usually add 5% oat bran or wheat bran by weight for the extra fiber (plus all from the grinding) – and with 30% white flour I get a light loaf.  So bran as a culprit and needing to sift out is overstated in my view.

I get great results with 100% whole wheat and same with 70/30 wheat to white given my children prefer the latter.  Great rises, nice spring and moist interiors.  So very likely your wheat and lack of protein and resulting gluten is the culprit.  Do you know the specs?

1)      Try different wheat - and grind as fine as you can or make two passes if you are not getting a very find grind.  My Wondermill does it easily in one pass as should other high impact mills.

2)      After grinding the night before, add all of the water in the recipe and enough flour to make a heavy sponge like oatmeal- this helps the gluten to form and removes phytic acid making the breads easier to digest.  Use a spatula or whisk to mix in- you will probably use 60% of your flour to get the oatmeal consistency, use the whole wheat flour not the white.

3)      Use a 100% rye or whole wheat starter, 200 grams or so in the sponge – will give you a superior result with better tasting and longer lasting freshness.  This is not necessary as a beginner, at some point you will want to move in this direction.  And still use yeast.  Sourdough/non-yeasted breads can come down the road after you have more experience working with the dough and getting the results you want.

4)      Use SAF yeast, by far the best as most traffic on this forum agrees.  One pound bags are sold at Whole Foods for $5.  Store unused in freezer

5)      Given your wheat is likely low in protein, add ½ tsp of gluten per loaf to help boost – too much will make the bread taste like cardboard – better to use the proper wheat to begin with.  Not needed nor desirable if you are using high protein wheat.

6)      Target a 67% hydration ratio (the weight of the water as a percent of the total flour) for the final product; mine generally run 66-68% when using freshly ground flour given the extra fiber and ability to absorb more moisture. Do not be a slave to formulas – I have had to add a bit or water or flour in the middle of kneading depending on the time of year, type of flour.

7)      If you do not have a scale, you can find one for under $40 – likely the best investment you can make at this stage.

8)      The next morning incorporate all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, cover and let rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.  Then start to knead.  This is a simple way to ensure a good outcome.   Or follow the recipes in Dan Leader’s books, Hamelman, or the many posts on this forum

9)      Knead 2-3 minutes longer than you think.  This of course depends on the machine.  You will eventually want to study the fold techniques.  The point here is you will notice a discernable difference when the gluten is properly developed.  I use a mixer: the dough sticks to the sides and bottom in the beginning and towards the end it pulls cleanly away from the sides, but the bottom still sticks.  If not, your dough is too dry and a brick is guaranteed.

10)  450 degree oven, turn on 45 minutes prior.

11)  Use steam the first 10 minutes to facilitate oven spring.  ¼ cup water on the oven floor when you load, again after 5 min and a third time at 10 minutes.  I bake to a 201 degree internal temperature ensuring a moist interior.    Cheers and good luck!

Zenith's picture
Zenith

I too mill my own hard red winter wheat in a Wondermill and would like a reliable recipe for sandwich bread -- would you share your recipe for 70/30 (whole wheat to bread flour), the one that your children like?  I have spent three years experimenting with all kinds of recipes and techniques, with my poor family as test subjects, and I'm ready to just make consistent bread that my family will enjoy every week.

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Frankenstein loaves:



 

 

 

Whole Wheat bread (yields two loaves)

Ingredients:

650 grams

Whole wheat flour

100 grams

Rye flour

250 grams

White Bread flour

50 grams

100% hydration rye starter (25 gr rye, 25 gr bottled water)

40 grams

Honey

28 grams

Vegetable Oil or butter

18 grams

Sea salt (1.75% of flour weight)

10 grams

SAF instant yeast (1% of flour weight).

647 grams

Spring or filtered tap water

1,771 grams total

 

Directions:

1.      Refresh your mature starter at room temperature the day prior to baking.  Give a final feed at 5pm.  By 10pm it should peak.

2.      Grind flour when convenient the day prior.

3.      At 10:00 pm add starter, all of the water, the whole wheat and rye flours to the bowl of your mixer.  Use a spatula or wire wisk to mix thoroughly.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit overnight.

4.      Early next morning: add remaining ingredients.  Mix a few minutes until well incorporated.  Cover again with plastic wrap and let sit (autolyse) for 30 minutes.

5.      Knead for 10-12 minutes total on low speed.  Dough will initially be very sticky.  After 8 minutes the dough should stick to side but pull away, and stick to bottom and be somewhat tacky.  If needed this is the time to adjust your water or flour depending on whether the dough appears too wet or dry.  Continue to knead another 3-4 minutes until gluten is developed.   Mixing times depend on the flour, the mixer, the weather, etc but you will notice a change in how the dough balls up at the point of gluten development- knead another minute or two after this point.

6.      Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap.  After 30 minutes gently stretch dough slightly from each side towards center like an envelope gently stretching the dough from the sided to center.  Flip over, cover again with plastic wrap, let rise another 20 minutes until not quite double in size.

7.      Turn oven on to 400 degrees.  Grease two loaf pans.  At the conclusion of the first rise gently cut into two pieces, gently round each ball of dough.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Form gently into tight loaves, place in bread pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until not quite double, about 40-45 minutes.

8.      Slash loaves with a serrated knife ¼ inch deep on the diagonal 5 times - rather than one long center cut.  This ensures a better final shape.   Place loaves in the hot oven on middle rack, quickly throw ¼ cup of water on oven floor after loading loaves.  Be quick to minimize heat loss and do not hit the light!  After 5 minutes open door and throw another ¼ cup of water on oven floor.  At 10 minutes throw another ¼ cup on the floor, shut door and then lower oven to 375 degrees.  Bake another 40 minutes until 201 degree internal temperature.  I use a $16 probe thermometer inserted into the center of one loaf after 40 minutes bake time.  Bread is formed and simply a matter of internal temp.

9.      Remove from oven.  Remove loaves from pans, place on wire rack to cool.

10.  Optional: hold a cold stick of butter with a napkin and put the end on the bread covering the tops of the loaves with melted butter to keep a softer crust.

11.  Optional: After two hours or so when loaves are faintly warm place in plastic bags.  The tiny bit of residual heat will cause bag to lightly mist inside which will ensure a soft crust that is more child friendly.  Caution: doing this too soon will result in way too much moisture so make sure loaves are just about fully cooled.

12.  Optional: slice, and freeze unused loaf.  Loaves will stay fresh 4 days without spoilage before you need to put unused portion in the refrigerator.

Notes:

1.      These are extensive directions targeting a beginner baker.  Don’t be a slave to formulas. While very easy, this is effectively a 56% pre-ferment ratio, much higher than you see in many of the books.  But it works and reduces steps so do not fuss over this.  You will evolve from here once the basics are covered.

2.      I recently purchased high protein organic red wheat and organic rye from Organic Wheat Products (Rhonda).  I have no affiliation with them, but their high protein wheat and their organic rye was the best I ever used in 20 years of baking.  And the price delivered was cheaper thanks to a recent policy from our US postal service that use flat rate per box shipping.   Her website is : http://www.organicwheatproducts.com/?page_id=70

3.      Find the SAF yeast (Whole Foods sells as do others) rather than substitute- there is none better.  It makes a difference as the many posts to this site attest.

4.      The flavor and keeping quality is superior when using a mature starter.  However, if you omit this step, you still will have a good product- increase the flour and water by 25 grams each if you omit.  Use rye or whole wheat for your starter rather than white flour – more complex and better fermentation. 

5.      I use an impact mill which gives a very fine flour output, the finer the better. 

6.      Many recipes preheat oven to 450, then reduce to 400 or 430 after 10 minutes (with steam) with a 40 minute total bake time.  That works great for hearth loaves where a crispy crust is desired.  This loaf is child friendly so I use 400 degrees to start, reducing to 350 for a total bake time of 55 minutes or so depending on your oven and loaf pans.  Ensure that you oven dial is accurate prior to any baking; some can be off by 25-50 degrees.

7.      Use a scale, much easier to scale up or down and they do not cost too much.  If you are off by a few grams when you measure, the sun will still rise in the morning so do not over fuss: accuracy is important, but your sanity will suffer if you become obsessive.  Experience over time will put this clearly into perspective.

8.      Books by Hamelman and other go into extensive discourses on the need to age flour for weeks on and a lot of technical reasons, bran cutting gluten etc.  While they may be technically correct, I would rather have a fresh product with all of the germ and natural oils present and what turns out to be one heck of a loaf.

9.      The flour will start to deteriorate after a day so grind what you need.  Use it and store any extra (for feeding your starter) in the freezer. 

10.  Likewise, do not be a slave to exact ratios- you will need to develop a feel for the dough and in short order will come to know when it is properly developed.  Many beginners simply under knead.  And use too little water resulting in dry dough and a flat brick doorstop.

11.  So try it and you hopefully will be happy with the results without getting too crazy on a lot of technical details that can confuse a beginning baker.  Over time you will modify the recipe to your liking.

 

Cheers,

Nickisafoodie

 

 

 

nhtom's picture
nhtom

I use home-milled flour all the time.


I grind it, add some yeast and water, stir 100 times and let sit (with lid) in a warm oven for an hour before adding white flour and other ingredients.


It's neither "poofy" nor exceptionally heavy.

Deu1118's picture
Deu1118

INSANELY AMAZING!!!


 


Wow, the information that you all have graciously given me has inspired me to press on.  I am determined to create stellar flour and I will be sure to post my recipe mixtures.  For me it is all about the quality of the texture of the bread.  The taste seems to be the easiest part to manipulate, but the texture, that is the holy grail in my perspective.  We just had company for a week so I haven't even begun to experiment or read all of the suggested information yet.  I will soon.  It always seems to take a few days to recover after company leaves.  Anyway, I wanted to thank all of you for your help and support and I will keep you in the loop regarding the performance of my experiments. 


 


Thanks again!