The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

help with home milled flour baking

patman23's picture

help with home milled flour baking

I have begun a new saga in my life that involves home milling my own flour.  I have had exceptional results when using a 2/3 home milled flour to 1/3 KA white bread flour.  I want to eliminate the KA flour but when I do I get almost no oven spring and sometimes the great ends up falling.  I believe that I may be doing a few things wrong.  


1.  The wheat is very cold when I mill it. It May be shattering bran instead of crushing it, maybe this is causing a problem?


2.  I am using a motorized CL mill and I have it set on a very fine setting. Maybe it's causing too much starch damage?


3.  I am not using a soaker or a bigs.. Maybe not enough enzymatic activity to get the sugar development?


I have pulled my grain from the freezer to let it get to room temp so it's warmer when I mill it.  

Are there any other things that I may be missing?

beeman1's picture

I usually add a little bread flour to soften thecrimb. I use the CL also. I have  had good luck with Reinharts whole grain sandwhich bread.

PiPs's picture


What formula/recipes are you using?

What wheat are you using?

So is it just the oven spring, or are there other things your not happy with?


shastaflour's picture

I've experienced this, too. I also use a CL grain mill (manually), but any lack of oven spring or falling have been related to technique rather than the mill. Most breads baked around here are 100% whole wheat.

From my (very humble and not-so-experienced) observations, lack of oven spring can result when dough is underkneaded, esp. with the freshly milled flour. When I use the mixer (or use the dough cycle on a bread machine), the spring is excellent. The few times I tried a straight stretch & fold on 100% whole wheat (despite resting times of 45 min.), the loaves had no spring and didn't rise outside the oven very well, either. Adding a couple minutes of kneading between resting periods remedied this, and the loaves had good spring.

I do utilize a sponge for 20 minutes (or sometimes longer) but have yet to try an overnight resting period. Hopefully soon!

Loaves have caved on me when I forgot them and they over-rose prior to baking or when I hadn't added enough flour (too much hydration). No doubt other things can make loaves fall as well, but these have been the primary causes I've experienced with home-milled flour.

Keep experimenting! It may be helpful to add in a Tbsp. of vital wheat gluten to pump up the gluten development. Trying new recipes is also a good idea. I ran through several before finally finding one we really liked, and even then I've made adaptations.

Also, we recently switched to Pyrex bread pans and the oven spring has been amazing. It may have to do with the slight insulating factor of the glass, which gives the yeast a little more time to multiply before the heat kills it. If you have any Pyrex around, you might give it a try. Just remember to lower the oven temp by 25 degrees.

Please forgive me if this is all basic stuff you've figured out already, but I do hope it is helpful in some way.


subfuscpersona's picture

Since you say

 I have had exceptional results when using a 2/3 home milled flour to 1/3 KA white bread flour.
then ask yourself is there anything different (other than the elimination of white flour)?

I would suggest reverting to the 2/3 whole wheat:1/3 KA bread flour and gradually increasing the WW proportions for each bake. Keep notes and observations for each bake. See at what point you start to experience problems. Review your notes for clues.

I would definitely do a soaker of at least an hour. Longer won't hurt. Did you do this before?

Remember that the KA bread flour has malted barley (for enzyme activity). You no longer have that using 100% WW flour. That's one thing that's different.

Set the stones on your mill only as close as is required to get the flour fineness you prefer. Experiment with increasing the spacing a tiny bit with a small amount of grain and see if your flour is still to your liking. Setting the stones too close stresses the motor and (as you noted) may result in starch damage (though this is more a problem with commercial roller mills than home mills).

Are you possibly using a different source of wheat for your flour than you formerly did when your bakes were successful?

 Why do you keep your grain in the freezer? (Just curious)

best of luck - do post back and keep us informed -SF

loydb's picture

I also struggle with oven spring with my home-milled flour, so you're not alone. 

patman23's picture

Phil - I am not using a formula as much as I'm using a recipe.   My recipe is as follows- 

900g  Whole wheat flour

12g Salba  seeeds

12g flax seeds

10g pumpkin seeds

20g sunflower seeds (toasted)

4g sea salt

2 3/4 c warm water

3tbsp canola oil

3 tsp active yeast

40g brown sugar


I have been combining the dry ingredients (excluding the yeast). Adding the water and allowing for an automate of about 1 hour.  Regarding all of.the other ingredients to my Viking mixer.  Once all is combined. I continue to mix on med speed for about 6 min or for 3 min after the dough clears the sides of the bowl.  I let it rest for a few min then kneed by hand until I like the feel of the dough,(usually only a min or two).  I place that into a greased bowl and place it in the oven for its first rise.  I also add a Pan of boiling water to the oven to increase the humidity.  Once the dough has doubled in size (about an hour or more. ) I shape it and put it in their pans.  Again letting it rise a second time. 

After the second rise I bake at 365 until my internal temp reaches about 200.


I am using prairie gold wheat.


my flavor is good, the crumb is a little tight but I'm ok with it.  

varda's picture

I notice a few things that may be accounting for your issues.   To me it sounds like you don't have enough dough strength to support a good expansion in the oven.    When you bake with your fresh ground flour you are baking with 100% whole wheat i.e., no bran removed. Bran even as ground fine, is sharp and can puncture the gluten matrix.   In addition, your recipe calls for a lot of seeds.   These also interfere with the gluten development.   Further, you are mixing for a very short period to develop this type of dough.   I don't know about Viking mixers, so maybe you can get really good dough development in that period, but maybe not, and you really need to be doing a slow mix for around 20-30 minutes.   Finally you are using a very small amount of salt for the amount of flour.   Salt helps with dough structure - usually people use a bit less than 2% of flour weight.    All of this is leaving aside questions of correct proofing or not.   Hope this helps.   -Varda

patman23's picture

Thank you guys and gals for your advice.  The soaker was a huge help as was adding salt.    I have not done the slow kneeding yet but it is next on my list.  I really appreciate y'all taking the time to help me out!


verruto4life's picture

I am a newbie milling grains, my first time actually and my bread was a  wheat bust embarrassed moment.

I'm used to incredible rustic sourdough bread.

I milled 75% hard white wheat and 25% barely on fine setting.

My bread came out tasting like a wheat hockey puck.

Do I need to sift out the bran?!

Can anybody help me?? How do I have nutritional flour with a basic white crumb like im used to? And how do I get my golden brown sourdough crust like before. I hope theres an answer so I don't have to go back to store bought flour.






verruto4life's picture

Milling my own wheat to make sourdough. My question is how do I minimize the strong wheat taste in the finished product? Should I sift out some of the bran before mixing? Would this help? My kids don't like the strong wheat taste and I'm trying to be nutritional, how do I reach a happy medium?

proth5's picture

Strong wheat taste? Freshly ground wheat flour is going to have a more distinct taste than a bag of whole wheat flour from the store.

You could age your home ground flour for a few weeks, but that sort of defeats the purpose, eh?

Or you could switch to white wheat (the variety of the wheat) which does have a milder flavor than "red" wheat.

Sifting out some of the bran might make your flour a bit more like the white flour your children are used to, but again, sort of defeats the whole "nutritional" thing. And you will not get white flour no matter how diligently you sift. It probably would be less work with the same result to just use a certain percentage of commercial white bread flour in your formulas.

Let me also suggest that since you are using sourdough, your bread might be getting a more sour flavor than when you used white flour. One of the ways to make a sourdough more sour is to introduce "co substrates" which is done nicely by the bran and etc. in whole wheat. Perhaps this is adding to the discontent. You will always get a slightly more sour bread with whole wheat, but you can mitigate this by using lower percentages of sourdough, using a white flour based pre ferment, spiking the dough with commercial yeast, or using some white flour n the final dough.

One thing that I've learned with fresh milled whole wheat is that you really want to get the dough well developed. My "daily loaf" is fresh milled whole wheat. I mix it for 15 minutes on the second speed of a fairly powerful spiral mixer. Not to say that you have this available, but things such as soakers (which I've not needed to use) might help. Whatever method you use to develop the dough - it needs to be done until you have sufficient dough strength - which will take longer in whole wheat.

But whole wheat flour will never taste like white flour. It just won't. And although you can get great rise and good texture with whole wheat, it will always be different from white flour. It's the nature of the thing. I'm no expert on children, but perhaps they just need time to adjust to the new tastes and textures. I know my parents would have told me to eat my food and stop complaining, but I come from a different time.

Hope this helps.

ElPanadero's picture

Kids liking / not liking a food is nothing to do with the food itself, it's just a state of mind. That state of mind is influenced by preconceptions, what they see on TV, what their friends do and say in terms of foods and what family members do and say. If a granny hates mushrooms for example, over the course of childhood the kids will pick up on her negativity about mushrooms and as a result they will come to say they don't like mushrooms.

Getting kids to eat things is about getting them involved and invested in those things. Much depends on their age. If your kids are less than 10 yrs old then you can change their mind sets. What you have to do is get them involved. When you go to a supermarket for example don't drag them around making them bored and listless. Give THEM the list of ingredients and ask them to find them. Make it a treasure hunt. Get them to find the biggest carrot for example. When they are invested like this they are more likely to eat that carrot.

So for your bread making you need to start with a "half 'n' half" loaf. Half white, half wholewheat, or even 3/4 white, 1/4 wholewheat. Get the kids to grind the wheat berries for you. Show them the setting for fineness and tell them what is needed. Then get them involved in the making of the bread, measuring out flour and water. Create a sourdough starter for each kid and let them name them and label the pots. Get them to feed their "pets" the day before you bake with them. Make separate mini-loaves using each starter so they can compete for the best loaf. When the dough is ready to bake, let the kids score a pattern on them. Doesn't matter if the pattern isn't pretty. It's about them owning the loaf, being a part of it. Let them take photos and pu t them on Facebook/Twitter etc. All this done, they will eat the finished loaves no problem. Then gradually phase in more wholewheat into the loaves. For nutrition you can also put some seeds in. Poppyseeds are tiny and largely unnoticable for example.


baliw2's picture

We make a similar bread to Rubaud with fresh milled grain. Never have a problem with oven spring. Opposite is true. More spring than KA alone. Adding malt helps a lot try that. Kids should eat what they are given. Cultivating a spoiled child via special food delivery is a bad way to begin a life which is nasty brutish and short.

108 breads's picture
108 breads

Two comments:

(1) The worst mistake I made as a parent was to tell my children that I was a picky eater as a child. I should have lied. They took the recounting of my experience as permission to be picky, which they still are in their 20s. Now I turn back to them with the evil teenage death stare. Though I am far away from being a teen, that death stare, once learned, is quite effective. My daughters otherwise are lovely normal and intelligent people who are wonderfully independent.

(2) Go gradually from white bread toward 100 percent whole grains. Shift a few percentage points at a time and the kids won't notice by the time they are enjoying healthy bread. I went  gradually and my children went from awful processed potato bread (my husband introduced that) to 100 percent whole wheat, which they ate even as teenagers and in front of their friends. In fact, the time to make your healthy bread popular is when your kids have friends over. Take a fresh bread out of the oven and they will all want to eat it right away. Let them and the friends will be saying how lucky your children are to have this great bread at home. It worked at our house.