The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Home-MIlled Flour vs. Store-Bought Flour Rye Bread

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

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...

Cliff.

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Let's see if I can post some photos...

Here is a cross-section of the loaf.  Notice that the edges of the loaf have been removed.  I can't say that it was to make a better photo because it wasn't.  My son just couldn't resist...lol...

This is obviously the crust of the bread.  For rye bread I rather liked the golden brown color.  It tastes even better. 

These photos are from the first loaf of bread that I made using the home-milled flour fresh from the mill.  It was not aged.  I have another loaf rising as I write this.  It is made with dough that was aged 24 hours.  Already I've noticed a slightly faster rise with it.

Now to see if I got this right, and the photos come up...

Cliff.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Christina's picture
Christina

Your bread looks amazing.  My trend in breads lean toward those made with different grains opposed to reg flour, since I enjoy the texture. 

I concur with you on the cast iron Dutch oven -- it makes my loafs come out better than regular pans. 

Oh, and I know this is completely unrelated to your post, but your bread knife in the last picture is awesome! 

-Christina 

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Christina,

Nice to meet someone else who uses a Dutch oven.  Thanks for the compliment too!  It may be "old technology", but I have yet to find anything that equals it yet alone beats it.

Glad you like my bread knife too.  I bit the bullet when I spent the money on the Cordon Bleu line by Wusthof, but it has been worth every cent, in my opinion.  I can't believe how many years I "suffered" using the other knives that I had.  The Cordon Bleu knives are a real experience for the better.  When our son arrived the other night he let out a whistle of amazement when he used the bread knife.  He hadn't seen the brand name.  When he saw Cordon Bleu he said "Great!" and went on to tell me about some professional chefs whom he knows, and that line is their personal favorite. 

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Christina's picture
Christina

That happens to be quite relevant:  After trying to cut a loaf from my Dutch oven, my (extremely dull) bread knife almost pinched the loaf shut!  I tried two different knifes, but those weren't any better. 

I have heard of those knifes, too, as being very reliable (although I know of two people who are convinced that the "Miracle Blades" are the best ever!  I don't concur, because, if that were true, wouldn't more chefs be using them...).

-Christina 

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

When you see so many pros using one knife it speaks volumes for it.  I had read about other knives, and I looked at them.  They were for the most part much less expensive, but then I bit the bullet  I am very pleased with the Wusthof Cordon Bleu line. 

One other comment that I read quite often was that only an electric knife could cut through a loaf of warm bread satisfactorily.  I almost bought one, but then I thought, "Do I need another cord getting in the way?"  No!  I bought the Wusthof knives and their bread knife does the job nicely.  I'm very glad that I passed on the electric knife.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

...there was a noticeable difference, right from the start. The aged flour absorbed more of the water and required at least 1/4 cup less flour during the mix between risings. The dough itself rose slightly faster. The finished loaf was a good 1/4+" higher too. As for the critical factor, taste, it is definately superior - more substantial, more wholesome. The bread has a better chew to it, and it holds together in the mouth better. Eating it is much more satisfying than eating the control loaf made from store-bought flour.  It is much better that the loaf made with the fresh-milled flour too.  My conclusion:  Mill your own flour and let it age for 24 hours before using it for superb results.  You can taste the difference!

 

Here's a pic of the loaf cooling.  More to follow...

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Thanks Cliff for doing all the testing for us. I always used the flour immediately afer grinding it in my Nutrimill. I'm going to let it rest and ripen next time. The bread is wonderful and I look forward to more pictures. I'm going to try this, maybe tomorrow I'll grind the grains. Did you grind them on the finest setting? What are the rye flakes you listed in the recipe? And do you think the gluten is necessary? I don't have any. So many questions, thanks in advance.                                                                         weavershouse

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Yes, I milled the grain on the finest setting that I could get.  My pet peeve with the Nutrimill is that they didn't put a scale on it from 1-10.  It took quite awhile.  I don't think that a wee bit faster would hurt anything.

The rye flakes are rye grains that have been steamed and crushed in a roller mill.  I got mine from Barry Farm:  www.barryfarm.com    It is in Wapakoneta, OH.  I buy the 5# bag.

I add the gluten only because everything that I've read about rye flour and rye bread indicates that it's a good idea as rye flour has no gluten.  I made one loaf without it.  It was definately not as high.  I don't know if it adds anything to the flavor.  The birdies got the low loaf without the gluten.  I didn't have caraway seeds in it either.  I didn't care for it at all without the caraway seeds and I've not made another without the seeds and with the gluten to make a comparison.  The other thing is that I use a bit more rye flour than most recipes call for.  I even make this loaf with 50% rye flour.  My wife likes it with less though.  I don't care one way or the other as both are excellent to me.  Besides, the gluten is inexpensive.  Wal-Mart has the best pricing.  The rye flakes though add significantly to the cost, but they also add significantly to the texture and flavor, both for the better.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Sylviambt's picture
Sylviambt

I've been toying with the idea of purchasing a Nutrimill and wonder about how long to age flour after its milled. Hamelman and Glezer suggest letting the flour rest at least 10-14 days before using to allow for optimal oxidation. If I remember, they contend that using "green" flour will negatively affect both gluten development and taste. What's been your experience?

Sylvia

In search of the perfect crust and crumb

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Sylvia,

I just baked this afternoon a loaf of rye bread using flour that had been aged for 7 days.  There was a noticeable difference.  By the way, it didn't go rancid as some guru had written in one article that I read a few weeks ago.  So far I've baked 3 loaves using freshly milled flour (started within an hour of milling), 24-hour aged flour and 7-day aged flour (today).

The rye bread made with the freshly milled flour fell apart in my mouth when I chewed it.  It felt almost "chalky" or powdery - not that bad really, but it didn't hold together well.  The dough did not develop that much elasticity.

The rye bread made with the 24-hour aged flour had a better "chew" to it.  It held together in the mouth while feeling very "light".  The dough developed some elasticity.  With this loaf I had to extend the final proofing by about 10 minutes and the dough was close to the stove.  It rose somewhat more than my previous loaves.  Upon transferring it to the Dutch oven it collapsed significantly.  It regained much of its loss in height, but not all of it.

The rye bread made with the 7-day aged flour has the best "chew" of all 3 loaves tested to-date.  The dough developed significantly more elasticity.  The flavor is superb - although all had good taste.  There is one complication in this comparison though as the first and second loaves were made using volume measurements while the last was made using a weight conversion.  This made a difference in the amount of flour used in the first 18-hour proof (recall that I use the no-knead method of making bread:  an 18-hour proof, a 15-minute rest, and a 2 hour proof with flour being added at the end of the 18-hour proof and the 15-minute rest).  With the weight recipe I used more flour initially and added much less later.  I also noticed that the dough had a faster rise during the 18-hour proof and held its height throughout the entire time.  In the first two batches I noticed that the dough would reach a maximum height ca. 12 hours and then receed ever-so-slightly.  The last loaf held its height without receeding, and it held up during the transfer to the Dutch oven best of all.  It did not deflate noticeably as did the first two loaves.  This I found interesting.  I cannot tell you anything about the nutitional value of the aged flour.  I've read articles in which the authors become almost rabid in their assertions that flour must be milled and used immediately as the nutrients deteriorate significantly after 3 days.  One stated that the flour would turn rancid after 3 days.  Well, that didn't happen to me.  As for the nutrients - dunno.

My conclusion?  The 7-day aged flour (sealed container in the fridge) made the dough that developed the greatest elasticity.  The dough held its own during the transfer into the Dutch oven.  The bread had the best "chew".  The flavor was outstanding.  The 24-hour aged flour made a good dough, but with not as much elasticity as the 7-day aged flour.  The dough deflated somewhat upon transferring it into the Dutch oven.  The chew was very good as was the flavor.  I'll try to do all of these again with the recipe that uses weights instead of volume (the first 2 loaves here were done with volume measurments and the 3rd with weight measurements), and I'll age some flour for 14 days to see if that makes a significant difference too.  The big question is how does this aging affect the nutrients?  Can anyone help with this question?  Also, when the "experts" talk about aging flour, are they talking about aging at room temperature or will aging in the fridge do?

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay