Home-MIlled Flour vs. Store-Bought Flour Rye Bread
My Nutrimill arrived this week as did my organic white wheat and rye grains. In addition our son decided to pay us an extended visit. The timing is perfect. I have an unbiased taste taster on site. I'll try to get some photos posted over the next several days to show just what my process looks like and the results.
I had a loaf of rye bread made with Hodgson Mill all natural rye flour and Harvest King Gold Medal Unbleached White Flour on hand to serve as a baseline for comparisons. Yesterday we milled our flour from organic hard wheat and rye grains. I used my new Nutrimill and milled the flour very fine. I milled enough flour to start making a loaf the same day and another loaf 24 hours later to see if a short aging period would make any difference. There was an immediate difference noted between the Hodgson Mill rye flour and the Nutrimill rye flour. The flour milled with the Nutrimill was noticeably finer and lighter in color. As the wheat flours were completely different (organic whole wheat flour vs. unbleached white flour) any comparison would be meaningless. Perhaps I should give my recipe here just so that we all know what I'm working with:
No-Knead Rye Bread
5 c. white flour
3 c. rye flour
1-1/3 c. rye flakes (toast @350°F. for 10-12 min.)
3 Tbs. caraway seeds
3 Tbs. gluten
1 Tbs. salt
1-1/2 tsp. dry yeast
4 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 Tbs. honey
4-1/4 c. spring water
1 Tbs. butter
Corn meal, as needed
Mix the dry ingredients first in a 12" bowl. Add the liquid ingredients in the order listed and mix them thoroughly with a large spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic and set it aside in a warm area for 12-18 hours (preferably 18 hours, but in a pinch a few hours less will work - you'll be able to tell by the appearance of lots of small gas bubbles on the surface of the dough when it is ready). With a large spatula mix in additional wheat flour until the batter releases from the spatula fairly easy (I use a silicone spatula gathering it from the bottom, perimeter of the bowl and pulling it up and over into the center). This should take less than 5 minutes at the very most. Transfer the dough into a 10" bowl, cover and set aside for a 15 minute rest (during which time you can wash and dry the 12" bowl and apply a thin coat of butter to it). Coat the inside of the 12" bowl with corn meal. At the end of the 15 minute rest mix the dough again with the spatula adding a small amount of wheat flour as needed. The dough is then transferred to the 12" bowl, corn meal sprinkled on top, covered and set aside for 2 hours during which time you can coat lightly the inside of the Dutch oven with vegetable oil. At approximately one hour and 35 minutes of the last rising session start to preheat the oven to 450°F. with the Dutch oven inside. When the oven and dough are ready remove the Dutch oven from the oven, take off the lid and carefully transfer the dough from the 12" bowl into the Dutch oven. Use a wide plastic egg flipper to help break the fall of the dough into the Dutch oven so that it just does a slow roll into it. Put the cover on and place the Dutch oven in the oven for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes remove the Dutch oven lid, close the oven door and give it another 35 minutes or so of baking time. Then test the internal temperature with your thermometer. Depending upon the gods and how they feel that particular day I find that it takes 35-40 minutes of uncovered baking time for the internal temperature to reach 200°F..
The baking vessel is a 7 qt., Lodge, cast iron, Dutch oven. I should mention at this point that the use of the cast iron Dutch oven produces a thick, even crust on the bread top, sides and bottom. Fortunately we happen to enjoy a good, thick crust on bread which is why I use this vessel.
This afternoon we baked our first loaf of rye bread with our home-milled organic flour. There was a noticeable difference in the color of the dough. It was not as dark a shade of gray. Quite frankly it just looked better - a more appetizing color. When the loaf was baked the crust was more of a golden brown color vs. plain dark brown - considerably more pleasing to the eye. The height and the porosity of the loaves appears to be about equal. Then came the taste and chew tests. The baseline bread is very chewy and has a stonger robust flavor. The home-milled flour bread chews easier, but still has a nice chew to it. It has a tendency to fall apart in the mouth, something that I don't care for. It does have a more delicate flavor. When toasted the baseline bread takes twice as long to brown as does the home-milled flour bread when our toaster is set on the highest setting. Store bought bread takes even less time to toast. The home-milled flour bread toast has a crispier crust and "cleaner" chew to it. The flavors are much the same as described previously for the plain breads. My taste tester pronounced enthusiastically upon his first bite of the bread that the home-milled-flour bread was better than the baseline bread made with "factory" flours. Again, I hasten to add that it's a matter of personal taste too. I should add that a new bottle of caraway seeds was used for the home-milled flour bread. This may account for the not-as-strong flavor of this loaf. It still has plenty of flavor, but the caraway flavor is milder.
I noticed that the dough made with the store-bought flour rose faster, but on that day the room temperature was a couple of degress warmer than today. I gave both batches the same amount of rising times. The dough made with the store-bought flour deflated more upon transfer into the Dutch oven. The resulting loaves of bread were within an eighth of an inch or so of each other in height with the store-bought flour loaf being perhaps the higher of the two - it's a very close call.
Now comes the question about comparing the home-milled flour to the store-bought flour when making the dough. I need to redesign the above recipe so that weights are used rather than volumes for the flours. The reason for this need became very obvious when I was mixing the home-milled flour dough using volume measurements. It was finer and made for a wetter dough initially. With the store-bought flour I needed to add only about 1/4 cup or less of flour for the rest and second rise mixings. With the home-milled flour I needed to add 3/4 cup plus, a significant difference. The finer flour takes up more volume as is evidenced by the initial wetness of the dough. Using weight measurements should help equalize everything.
That's about it for today. More to come, later... Comments? Always welcomed...