The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pre-digesting Flour

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Papist's picture
Papist

Pre-digesting Flour

I was told that I can't consumer fresh ground flour without doing something to break down the grain first.  I started making sourdhough breads because I heard taht sufficiently predigests the flour.  I've also heard that soaking flour works- but I don't really care for this method.  Anyway, that is all well and good for making breads, but what about other baked goods?  I can't use sourdough for muffins and cookies and cakes.  And soaking doesn't seem reasonable- not to mention I can't find any recipes for baked goods other than bread that include soaking the flour. 

I have soft white wheat, it really can't be used for bread.  Does anyone have any insight?  Is pre-digestion just a myth?

 

 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I was told that I can't consumer fresh ground flour without doing something to break down the grain first.

 

The issue with fresh ground flour is that it hasn't had time to oxidize, which can take 3-4 weeks on average. Without oxidation, gluten (in simplest terms:) doesn't develop, resulting in all sorts of deleterious, unwanted, and unpredictable effects in baking.

People still use fresh ground flour all of the time, including many people here on The Fresh Loaf.

If you want to use predigested flour in cookies, cakes, etc., do a Google, etc. search for sourdough cookies, sourdough muffins, etc. That should give you plenty of ideas.

People do use predigested flour in all sorts of things. Many of us, for example, use the residual sourdough starter we create (when building/feeding a starter) in pancakes.

 

Papist's picture
Papist

Sourdough won't give cookies and cakes a bad taste?  I mean, it's a great flavor for bread, but I'm not sure about cookies.  What did people do before refined flour?  I checked out Martha Washington's cookbook from the library.  plenty of cake and cookie recipes but no mention of soaking or sourdough.  What am I mising.  Thanks for the help :)

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Even when you try to get sour out of a sourdough, you often 'fail' (the result isn't as sour as you'd expect).

With baked goods like cookies, etc., the other ingredients will mostly (if not completely) mask any sour flavour. Take mwilson's recent post. It's a highly-enriched bread (that's about as close to cake as you can get without it actually being cake) made with a really strong sourdough, but (I'm guessing) there's (almost) no sour flavour in the Colomba di Pasquale: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/28606/colomba-pasquale-achille-zoia

If sourdough causes a problem, it will be with gluten development. Sour = stronger gluten, which you do not want in most baked goods (that are not bread). Most non-bread uses low-gluten flour to begin with, like the flour you are using, so I doubt you'll even have a problem.

You could also try 'predigesting' partial amounts of the flour.

Papist's picture
Papist

So is it bad to use fresh ground flour without doing anything to it?  If I grind the soft white can I use it in a regular cookie recipe as is? 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Try it in a cookie recipe right after you grind (and I presume sift) it.

Then age some of the same flour (for a few weeks) and try it again.

See if there's an appreciable difference.

Let us know what you find out.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

You don't say "why" you were told this.  Is it because of the grain?   Human health?  The position of the planets?  Knowing why this is so would help tremendously in answering your question.

Jeff

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Perhaps your referring to phytic acid which interferes with the absorption of calcium and some other minerals?

Yes soaking or a sourdough method will reduce its effects. I'm not sure how you would incorporate soaking into your quick raised recipes ... perhaps some experimentation is required :)

Cheers,
Phil 

Papist's picture
Papist

Thanks for the replies.  I've had a little wine, so bear with me while I answer.  I was indeed to that the phylic acid makes the difference.  That it thwarts absorbtion and I might as well be using white flour if I am going to use freshly ground unsoaked flour.  I was also told that freshly ground flour goes bad within does- rancid.  So I am afraid to wait a few days to use it(I freeze what I don't use).  Have I been misinformed on two counts?  

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I have heard all kinds of conflicting anecdotes regarding the use of fresh flour. The oil in the germ will go 'off' eventually but if it is kept in cool dry conditions you certainly have a pretty big window for its use. Months perhaps? The oxidising effect as Thomas mentions will also change the way the flour behaves .... but again I use fresh milled flour all the time and have really seen no degradation in the quality of the dough and bread I produce with it.

Other say that vital nutrients are lost after 12 hours ... again I have no way of correlating that information. I guess what I am looking for in the fresh milled flour is the nutients and flavour of the germ and endosperm ... I am not that interested in the 'bran/fibre'. I love whole grain breads, but love sifted or white breads just as much.

Don't be afraid of it :) ... By all means keep it in the fridge, soak it before use if you have the time, use a sourdough, use long ferments with yeast if you prefer, sift it on occasions, but most of all just enjoy the fresh taste of your own flour.

Cheers,
Phil 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Use sourdough to reduce the phytic acid issue.  After milling grain use the flour within a couple of hours or after a few weeks.  Yes the flour will go rancid but that will takes months to occur at typical room temperature.

You can soak flour overnight mixed with yogurt to use in muffins etc.  This too will reduce the phytic acid.  If you want to know more on the subject read,  Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.

Bake bread, have fun, and don't take any of it all too seriously,

Jeff

Papist's picture
Papist

I actually already have the Nourishing Traditions book.  It has been somewhat helpful but it is limited.  Iw as hoping that I could sub my fresh ground flour for recipes outside that book.  Refined flour is a fairly new thing right?  What did people do before this?  Thanks for the help, I feel very in the dark on the subject.  I was at my wits end before I found this forum.  So I can leave the flour out for some time?  I was told it had to be used within a couple of days?  Very good to know.  So is it "bad" for you to use unsoaked wheat?  Someone mentioned sifting.  I don't do this, should I? 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Refined flour (depending on your definition) is not all that new.  Bran has been sifted out of flour for at least 500 years or so that I am aware of.  White flour has also been around for quite some time.  What is new is the chemically laden bread like substances that are cranked out of industrial factories and then labeled as bread.  It looks some what like bread, it is shaped somewhat like bread but it tastes very poorly and it is not a healthy product. 

Just a handful of decades back, bread was made (in a bakery..imagine that) over two shifts spanning 12-16  hours.  This was a long fermentation that involved some sort of preferment whether it was a biga, poolish, pâte fermentée,  or sourdough.  

If you are making sourdough or using any other process that requires 16 hours of fermentation, that process is soaking your whole grain flour.

I only mill flour as I need it.  This I think is the best avenue as the entire purpose of home milling is fresh flour.  As mentioned, use it within a couple of hours.  I use my milled flour within minutes of milling.

Your milled flour can definitely be used in almost any application.  "Almost" is a key word.  You might like the book,  Whole Grain Baking from King Arthur Flour.  This will give you many more ideas on baking with your flour.  Also, if you are not versed on the elements of a grain of wheat, I would urge you to read on that subject and learn about the germ, bran and endosperm.  While the science of baking and wheat might be a bit more than you bargained for, this will help you understand milling and the processes that lead to white refined flour.  This is turn will help greatly in your understanding of how to use your home milled grain.

Jeff