The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Finely ground whole wheat

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Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

Finely ground whole wheat

I recently bought a package of organic whole wheat flour from my local health food store.  I was expecting it to look like whole wheat flours I've seen in the past - similar to white flour but with pieces of bran that are much bigger than the flour particles.  However, it doesn't - it's either very finely ground or it's sifted or something.  There are no large bran pieces, only the tiniest specks.  The only reason I can tell it's different from my AP flour is the colour - it's a bit darker, which makes me think it was very finely ground so that the bran is in with the rest of the flour.


I've used it several times for muffins and it results in a very tasty whole wheat muffin.  I've used it for bread and haven't turned out anything great yet (but that could just be because I'm a newbie at this, and still trying to figure things out anyway).


I have a few questions about the finely ground or sifted flour...


Is it as healthy as the whole wheat flour with bran pieces in it?  How does its effectiveness compare for baking breads and such?  I've already noticed it absorbs more liquid than its white counterpart.


It seems really nice, so what are the disadvantages of this type of flour compared to the coarser grain?


I've tried searching the internet for some answers, but unfortunately it seems that not many people are talking about finely ground whole wheat (go figure).

BettyR's picture
BettyR

but it would be my guess that it would be easier to make bread with a finely ground whole wheat than a courser grind. I think the courser grinds interfere more with gluten development. The tough bran flakes will cut the gluten strands.


 


Maybe someone who knows more will answer soon.

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Commercial mills go through several milling stages, the first being one that seperates the bran (14%) and germ (2%) from the flour.  At this stage the bran is flaked and large as is the germ.  The remaining kernel (84%) and germ is then ground thru several stages, each progressively finer.  And most or all of the bran may be added back and in some brands the germ may be removed given it will go rancid quickly.


When I grind at home using a high speed impact mill (one pass) , the result is a very fine flour as the entire kernel including bran and germ is fully ground into a fine powder.  I prefer this in that the final product is more homogenous in terms of look.  I have also additionallyu added up to 6% of flour weight in the form of oat or wheat bran flakes to give the bread even more fiber!  And given the supplemented bran is purchased from a store, it is the larger flakes.


In my experience, no real difference.  And you have already noted that these flours will absorb more water.  And using a 30 minute autolyze greatly benefits the final outcome.  Hope this helps...

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

Thank you... do you think they did it the same as you with a high speed impact mill, or would they more likely have just sifted out the bran that was separated?  Considering it's called "whole wheat" it makes me hope the bran and/or germ are still in there somewhere...


If it helps, it's just the brand from my local health food market... the food market is called "Community Naturals" and the flour has the store branding on it.  So it could be possible that they just do it the same as you?  They aren't a chain or anything - they are only at a few locations in Calgary, they are locally run.

odinraider's picture
odinraider

I would love to get my hands on a bag or three of that stuff. The experiments I could conduct...


 


(Yes, I am currently steepling my fingers and laughing in a rolling, maniacal "mwuhahahaha!)


-Matt

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Hard wheat or soft?


The hard varieties are much better for yeast leavened breads. Does the packaging give any indications of the type and/or best usages?

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

It is organic hard red spring wheat, which I've heard is the nicest for bread because it has a lot of protein that can create gluten, right?


 


It's funny, I didn't know this when I bought it - I found out later by looking at the back and googling "hard red spring wheat" and found it seems to be a fave for bread.


 


By the way I'm not using yeast, I'm using sourdough (I know sourdough has yeast in it but I took it to mean that by "yeast" you meant commercial yeast?)

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Given all above, I would guess it likely is your sourdough culture.  Try the same recipe using yeast (SAF preferred). If you get good results your starter may need work.


My starter culture is rye and peaks in just a few hours.  When I make sourdough I find the rising times are not that much longer than using the same recipe if using yeast only- an hour rise with yeast is only 90 minutes using only my rye starter (vs several hours) with only sourdough.  Why?


1) A very healthy starter can be managed by using 100% rye given it ferments better than WW or white.  Certainly the others will work too if all else is correct.   I grind the flour so 100% of the nutrients are present in the starter.  I have heard of others on this site needing 5 or more hours before their starter peaks!  So feed it, leave it on the counter, and mark your vessel so you can see how long it takes to peak.  use 1 par flour anf one part water, both by weight.


2) I build my culture starting with 50 grams, building to 200 gr, then 5 hours later add about 20% of the flour in the recipe, letting that ferment a few hours of overnight depending on the level of sour flavor desired.  AT this point the totoal pre-ferment is fully loaded with beneficial buddies that will kick butt: Then incorporate rest of ingredients, knead/fold etc.


Your earlier question re the mill at your local store: given bran particles are very fine they probably use an impact mill, same as you can use at home.  If not an impact mill, then it would be a stone mill.  Both give great results.  They likely would use one or the other.  Give a call and ask.  Ideally you could buy just after they groind what you need so you know all is as fresh as can be, store in freezer.

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

My sourdough culture seems good.  I used dark rye flour to start it, and for awhile I kept feeding it with dark rye, as I liked the idea of having a bit of rye in my breads.  However, I noticed that even the small amount seems to have a big impact, so, I recently switched my starter from rye to all-purpose flour.


 


With rye, it doubles (well actually increases by about 1.5 times volume) in anywhere from 2-4 hours, but with white it seems to be doing even better.


 


So I think my sourdough culture is fine! :)  I will probably buy some instant yeast someday but not yet.  And it will probably be Fleichmann's yeast since that's what the stores here carry I believe.  (I'm from Ontario, and all they carried was Fleichmann's, but perhaps the natural food market here may have better selection - I'll check someday.)


 


Part of the reason for me to be making my own bread is because I'm on a tight budget, currently jobless, so buying yeast is just an added expense.

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

What is the brand name of the WW flour?  I prefer a finer ground WW flour.  I'm using GM WW flour currently because it seems finer ground to me.


 


Mark


 


 

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

As I mentioned earlier up in the comments, it i sn't really a brand per se.... it's from the Calgary store Community Natural Foods and the branding on the flour is the same.  So I'm not sure you can get it anywhere but Calgary - I think it's just this store.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

The flour itself seems well suited for making bread.


What recipe and mixing/kneading methods are being used? Experience level of the bread maker?


What are you comparing to? Have you made yeast breads with other flours that you were satisfied with?

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

I never said I wasn't satisfied with this flour! I quite like it so far.  I was just curious what people knew about this, so I could know what to expect and whether it might explain any shortfalls I might have (is it the flour, or is it me?.... when I know more about the flour, I can answer that question better.)


 


I am pretty new at this - I've made yeasted breads before, but always enriched with eggs, milk, butter.  With my sourdough I've been attempting to make lean breads - nothing but flour, water, salt, and starter.  I'm really just working on improving my techniques, learning more about different types of flours, and getting an edible loaf on the table every day.  My first sourdough SUCKED - we couldn't finish eating it, it was kind of bad.  But since then I've been improving and it's always been quite edible since then!



Last night I made what looked to be quite a nice loaf!!.... unfortunately I shattered a glass bowl and glass got into it, so we couldn't eat it. I could smell it and see it though.


I've been using recipes off of TFL and since I got my new book, the BBA, I've been using that.  I've tried the polaine-style miche and the standard sourdough.  Not sure about polaine-style miche... standard sourdough is the one I made last night that got glass in it.


It's been about two or three weeks since I started my sourdough starter.  It seems to be a generally happy pet :) After a week it has been living in the refrigerator.  It's always smelled somewhat yeasty and fruity.

Whole Grain Mama's picture
Whole Grain Mama

As to the healthiness of the flour, from what you've said of the label, I'm guessing that it's freshly ground by the health food store. With a good mill you can get a nice fine flour even though it is whole grain! I have a Nutrimill and can get my hard red wheat ground as fine as powdered sugar (if I was going for that) and all the bran and germ are still there.


The key to the healthiness aspect of whole grain flours is that you keep it refrigerated! The reason for this is that wheat berries contain one of the richest sources of vitamin E! When wheat is milled that vitamin E is now exposed to oxygen where it will become oxidized (as well as the other nutrients contained in the wheat berry). Oxidation causes free-radicals which in large amounts cause cancer. When you refrigerate the flour it slows down the process of oxidation. Freshly ground wheat should be used as quickly as possible because within 72 hours over 90% of 30 different nutrients are gone.


For more indepth info in wheat and it's properties, check out this page: http://info.breadbeckers.com/articles/


I hope this helps! :)

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

The last two packages of King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat flour I have purchased have had that appearance.  No visible bran flecks, and a uniform light brown color.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

The flour was probably ground on a very fine setting and may have been particularly dry when ground. The resulting flour is more powdery or closer in texture to a white AP flour. It may tend to make a slightly denser bread.


Here are some tips for working with whole wheat to make a moist loaf that is not too dense and won't crumble when cut or handled.


The reason most WW loaves end up crumbly is that the bran that is ground with the kernel takes a lot longer to absorb moisture than the starchy part of the grain. So the dough is mixed, usually with less moisture than it needs, and baked. As it sits, the bran proceeds to absorb the moisture from the starchy part of the crumb. This dries out the crumb and when you go to slice it and it falls apart. There is an easy way to prevent this scenario using a simple technique.


1.Use a little more liquid than usual and your final dough should be tackier than you think is should be.


2.Let it rest for 30 min-12 hours. This allows the bran to absorb the extra moisture. When you work with it, you will notice it is a lot less tacky.I mix mine up in the evening and throw it in an oiled plastic container and put it in the refrigerator. In the morning, it will have risen considerabley-sometimes doubling.Form into loaves, proof and bake.


3. OR-Stretch and fold technique really works well with WW.It allows rest time for water absorption and folding for gluten development.I use this if I am baking bread the same day.


4. Using milk and oil will soften a loaf texture, of course, but simple hydration of the dough is really what you want to do-either through an autolyse,sponge,biga or simple bench rest. Many ways to accomplish it.