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help with grain milling

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robkaro's picture
robkaro

help with grain milling

I am really new to grinding my own grain at home. I purchased the Family Grain Mill and at this point have not successfully ground any grain. I am using a good quality organic spelt and soft white wheat berry grain. I have tried baking several different things...tortillas, artisan bread, and crackers. At this point I cannot get the grain fine enough. Everything is turning out tough and chewy.

Should I sift the grain after milling? If so, doesn't this defeat the purpose of going "whole grain"? I have tried grinding my grain several times....up to 5 times without much more success. Am I expecting too much from my grain mill? I had envisioned being able to use the mill for all my flour needs.....but gave in yesterday and bought flour at the health food store.

I would welcome any suggestions on milling and any recipes that work. I have always been able to successfully bake practically anything at home with commercial flour so am feeling a little defeated.

 

 

Comments

loydb's picture
loydb

The stuff coming out of your mill is never going to be as fine as commercial unless you sift it. As you point out, sifting kind of defeats the purpose of whole grain. When I want something fine, I use a #30 seive that leaves me with about 80-85% by weight from my milled wheat berries -- but mostly I use it as-ground, in a huge variety of recipes, from biscuits to gumbo.

I'm not familiar with your mill -- I assume you've adjusted it as fine as it goes? I also suggest grabbing Peter Reinhart's book Whole Grain Bread, it may help you produce a better loaf. 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I second Loyd's suggestion about PR book plus Laurel Robertson has one too.  (Both are available at libraries.)

I mill my own grains on 'fine'.

I do not have the mill you do.

I use: hard red or white wheat, spelt, Kamut, rye and a 7 grain mixed blend.

I do not sift.

I use soakers and bigas as suggested by PR in his book and my loaves are wonderful - or so says my family and all the friends I give loaves to.

Main thing to watch for is that whole grains need more water and they take longer to absorb it so don't adjust until you have kneaded your dough for awhile.  A 30-60 minute autolyze really helps allow the grains to soak up the water and helps to develop the gluten - kind of like a head start.

Have Fun!

Janet

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

One issue is the type of wheat you are using.  Soft wheat has lower protein than hard wheat and is a challenge when trying to make artisan breads.

http://www.wheatfoods.org/AboutWheat-white-wheat/Index.htm

A portion from it is printed below:

"Soft white wheat is used mainly for bakery products other than bread. Examples include pastries, cakes, and cookies. It is also used for cereals, flat breads and crackers. Both white wheat classes make quality 100% whole wheat products."

FF

robkaro's picture
robkaro

Thanks for the suggestions.  I will definitely look for the books. I did not use the soft wheat for anything but tortillas and crackers. I did use the spelt for the artisan bread. Being VERY new to this whole experience with milling my own grain I didn't realize that it would take the dough longer to absorb water....so I immediatley assumed that the issue was the grind of my grain. When I first put the water in and began to stir it to form a ball of dough it wouldn't even hold together. As it went along it got better.  As for the taste of the Artisan bread....it was good. Two things though.....the bottom crust was so hard I had to saw through it and the bread was a bit chewy. It seemed also like it needed a bit more salt.  Here is the recipe I used for it:

You start with the Starter:

1 c water

1/2 tsp yeast

1 1/2 c flour

Stir together, cover and let sit on counter for 2hrs.

Add

1 c water

3/4 tsp yeast

1 T sugar

1 T kosher salt

3 c flour (adjust as needed to make dough workable)

Mix together - dough may still be loose.  Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth. Put in a greased bowl. Let rise for 1 hr or until double. Knead dough again - Shape inot loaf. Let rise another 30 - 60 min. Beat an egg with 1 tsp water and brush over bread. Bake at 425 degrees for 30- 40 min.  Bread is done when it is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when thumped on bottom.

I used spelt flour with this recipe.

My grain mill has 4 levels of grind....I used the setting above the finest and ran the grain through 3 times. I saw from one of the other posts that running through mutiple times doesn't help if you don't adjust the grind.  My flour didn't remotely resemble store-bought flour (which is okay....I'm trying to get away from that) but I am clueless as to what it should look like. Mine has very little "flour" in it and looks more like chopped grain.

Any suggestions on an affordable (trying to stay under $4oo) mill that will yield a better quality grind? I did research the Family Grain mill and just thought it would suit my purposes and it was very affordable. However, I am not opposed to replacing it with something else that will help this effort be more successful. I am completely sold on milling my own grains for health purposes.

Thanks again for the help.

 

loydb's picture
loydb

Spend the extra $50 and get a Retsel Mill-Rite. It's a true stone grinder. I love mine, and the flour never, ever gets hot. Do, however, be aware that the company is sloooooow to ship (if you select a specific color, rather than first available or white, it may be your children who get the mill), and not particularly great at keeping you updated about your order. Since you already have a mill you can use in the interim, that will be less of a big deal than it might. 

 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

ON ATTEMPTING TO MAKE BREAD WITH ALL SPELT FLOUR

I used spelt flour with this recipe.

Spelt is a difficult grain to work with. It does not have the gluten forming ability of hard wheats commonly grown in the USA or Canada. It may seem to create a good dough during bulk rising and the final proof but, during baking, the dough tends to flatten out and not produce much (if any) oven spring.

My suggestion would be to purchase hard wheat to mill into flour for your bread. Hard wheat is available in 3 basic types - hard white spring wheat; hard red spring wheat; hard red winter wheat.

Several years ago, on a different forum, there was a bread baking challenge to bake bread using spelt flour. Only the most experienced bakers could produce a good loaf. If you want more info on baking bread with 100% spelt flour, do post back and I can give you the link.

ON ALTERNATIVE GRAIN MILLS

My grain mill has 4 levels of grind....I used the setting above the finest and ran the grain through 3 times. I saw from one of the other posts that running through mutiple times doesn't help if you don't adjust the grind. My flour didn't remotely resemble store-bought flour (which is okay....I'm trying to get away from that) but I am clueless as to what it should look like. Mine has very little "flour" in it and looks more like chopped grain. Any suggestions on an affordable (trying to stay under $400) mill that will yield a better quality grind?

The whole grain flour produced by your mill should feel similar to a standard, commercial white bread flour. It should feel only faintly gritty if you rub some between your fingers. It should not show obvious flecks of bran after lightly stirring the milled flour. It should definitely not look like "choppped grain" nor should it feel "sandy" when you rub some between your fingers.

For an affordable grain mill that is within your budget, is easy to use and can mill most of the grains that home bakers use for bread, my suggestion would be the Nutrimill. This is an electric mill that is designed to mill common grains for bread in one pass. I own (and use) 3 grain mills, of which the Nutrimill is one. I find the Nutrimill very satisfactory for most milling. There are many home millers on TFL who own the Nutrimill and you can search the site for their evaluations. This is just my opinion (as there are other TFL members who own, use and love other types of grain mills). I am simply trying to point you to one alternative grain mill that might serve your purpose.

========================

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you would like more information on home milling, please post back to this thread. I can give you links to previous posts on home milling and baking artisan bread with home milled flour that I have found particularly helpful. If you do post back, please try to be as specific as you can with your questions

Best of luck to you in your baking. Baking bread with home milled flour does take some experience but can be very rewarding - SF

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

SF,

I saw your comment above about a site dealing with the successful using of spelt in a formula.  I am interested in knowing that info. as I use spelt but mostly with my ww flour being the main four used so as to overcome the issue you mentioned above....

Thanks,

Janet

robkaro's picture
robkaro

SF,

Yes I would like more info on home milling. I did research mills  before I purchased mine. I considered the Nutrimill but decided on the Family Grain Mill because it was dual purpose....hand mill and electric. I have only milled with electricity, I have not tried the hand crank. We live in a rural area and at times our electricity can be unstable so that was the deciding factor for me. I know there are people using this mill successfully just not sure how they are doing it.

Any links you have for spelt baking would be greatly appreciated. I am using spelt flour with a fair amount of success. I can purchase organic spelt (already milled) at our local health food store.  Pancakes, muffins, and pie crust turn out great. Cookies are a little more difficult. I would really like to learn to bake bread with spelt as well. We would like to get away from wheat because of our daughters allergies.

Thanks for your responses.

 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

@robkaro @Janetcook

This was a spelt bake-off. The link is http://sourdough.com/forum/topic/1049

The thread is very long. Take the time to read it all. There are nuggets of solid information scattered among the usual pitter-patter. Also photos. If you take the time, it should reward you with some solid information.

Hope this helps - SF

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

SF

Thanks for the link.....unfortunately some of the links off of it are no longer coming up but I did get a few good pointers to work on!

Janet

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Robkaro,

I also own a couple of mills.  The Nutramill is one and is within your budget.  I did like mine.  It has a great customer service back up and they do back up their product!  I had to send mine in and all was fixed for no charge and was back to me within 2 weeks time. (It wasn't milling as fine as it had been and they switched out the whole grinding section of the mill at no cost!)

While it was being worked on I purchased a KOMO and it has now become my primary mill due to the ease of operation - super simple with lots of settings from fine to really coarse and the clean up is a since which is a big deal to me as I mill several times throughout the day on a regular basis - small amounts for leaven feeds, medium amounts for soakers and large amounts for final doughs.

 My chief complaint with the Nutramill was the cleaning when milling so frequently.  IF you are only going to mill a large amount at a time it is perfect.  Handles just about anything you can toss into it except oily seeds!

Good Luck in your search!

Janet

robkaro's picture
robkaro

Thanks for all the suggestions....am considering my options right now. In the mean time I purchased some organic spelt (already milled ) at our local health food store. My daughter used it today and made pie crust for chocolate and coconut cream pies. The crust turned out great. Of course it was much darker than if you had used white flour, but the taste and consistency were really good. We have been using spelt for pancakes, muffins, and cookies with good success.

At the moment I have taken a hiatus from milling until I get my mill sorted out. Thanks again to all of you who have posted suggestions for me.