The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie to milling- with a Country Living Grain Mill (not motorized)

pmiker's picture

Newbie to milling- with a Country Living Grain Mill (not motorized)

I've made about a dozen loaves, some pancakes and quite a few muffins in the last couple of weeks using my new mill.  I did have to mill about 4 lbs of flour one night when I got a little over ambitious but other than that, hand milling isn't too bad.

I've read some of the topics here and tonight I did a little test with the only sifter I have.  It's a fine,  scoop shaped sifter that has two layers of wire mesh.  It appears to be stainless steel.  What's the measurement?  I haven't a clue.  Anyway, I was suprised when it sifted the flour and left the darker bran behind.  I had thought the the flour was all uniform.

I have my mill set for a fine flour which puts a bit of resistance into the cranking but the result has been very soft breads.  Especially when I use 50% or more white wheat.  If I sift out this bran, what percentage of whole wheat do I have left?  Is it still 'whole' wheat?  Is it closer to bread flour?  Without spending a lot of money and time on sifters and sifting, what impact could sifting have on the resulting breads?

addendum:  I ground 8.6 oz of flour and ran it through my little sifter.  This left me with 8 oz.  I'll work on the math later.


Yerffej's picture

The bran accounts for about 14% of the wheat berry.  "Whole wheat" is one of those modern terms that does not mean (or it might) what it should.  It is akin to a 2 x 4 piece of lumber that does not measure 2 inches by 4 inches.  So why call it that?...One has to wonder.

When you buy whole wheat flour at the grocery store it is about impossible to tell exactly what it is that you are getting unless you know the miller.  It could be actual whole wheat, that is, 100% of the wheat kernel that has been milled into flour or it could be a mixture of wheat parts reassembled after being taken apart in the milling and screening process.  Milk is taken apart and then reassembled to create 1%, 2%, and whole milk.  I wouldn't drink that stuff but that is another topic. 

So if you sift out the bran of your flour what you have left is whole wheat flour with the bran removed, some of  it anyway.  As for the effect on bread, removing the bran will make for a lighter less dense loaf assuming that all other factors are unchanged.  Health wise, there is a lot of good in the bran that is removed from flour.

I make 100%  true whole wheat bread, I also make white French bread, light rye, Vollkornbrot and many variations inbetween.  I eat a mix of all of these at various times as I have found that no matter how good a particular bread may be, variety is a nice change.


pmiker's picture

Doing the math, it appears I took out about 7% using the sifter.  This left me with somewhat smoother flour.  So I tested it with my muffin recipe.  It's quick and easy.  I used hard white winter wheat.  The muffins were great.  Perhaps a bit softer but I could not really tell.  I do know that they taste better with the home milled white flour than they did with KAF ww flour.  I do like KAF flour but for this recipe the milder flavor of the white wheat won out.  It lets the cinnamon apple bits have just a bit more presence.

I do not know if I will incorporate sifting.  I'll have to compare breads to see.  I'm pretty happy with my current results so I may just stick with 100% whole wheat.

Thanks for the feedback.


shastaflour's picture

Hi Mike,

We have a CL hand-crank grain mill as well. Four pounds of flour in one go is a whopping amount! Are your arms sore?

I've wondered about sifting out bran for certain recipes, too. It sounds like our "sifting" equipment is somewhat similar to yours, so I'll have to try what you did. Thanks for experimenting, and thanks for the encouragement to try it as well. Keep us posted with any updates!

- Marguerite

proth5's picture

My milling blogs are getting older, but can be found in proth5's blogs and many other places.

For new folks to sifting - I use soil classifiers (which need not be particularly expensive) - for most applications I only need two - but it's in my blogs.

Sifting is not only a great way of creating different flours, but for allowing you to mill the bran very finely.  Even though you incorporate it back into your flour, you can grind the bran more finely if you do some sifting and re grind what has been sifted out.  Also, when hand milling, sifting lets you concentrate on re milling only what needs re milling - which makes a big difference when you are providingthe power yourself.

Welcome to the world of hand turned milling! I routinely do 4-5 pounds on the mighty Diamant  (and I'm just a little old lady...)

Happy Milling!

pmiker's picture

I'll see if I can find the blogs you speak of.  Today I milled 3.5 pounds.  I sifted out 2 ounces of bran and saved it.  On one of my loafs I spritzed the top with water and sprinkled bran over it.  Just to see how it affects the bread.

Here's what I made today.  It's normally a light whole wheat recipe using 60% bread flour.  I replaced that with white whole wheat that I sifted.