Fun with milling and sifting
I have been doing multiple bakes with home-milled sifted flour and it's nothing if not a learning experience. My initial attempt at tempering was a fiasco. All I could think of when I heard the word tempering was that somehow the wheat berries must be heated to very high temperatures to strengthen them. Only a few seconds of thought though, is all it takes to realize that that is ridiculous. But I was still surprised to learn that tempering when it comes to wheat means letting it absorb enough water to achieve a small measure of malting, and reach a desirable level of moisture.
Easier said than done. I tried heating a sample of berries at low temperature for several hours to see what their moisture content was. See the strategy described by Michael here. Then I added the requisite amount of water to the berries I intended to bake with and stored in a closed container for 2 days while the berries absorbed the moisture, shaking the container whenever I passed by. I knew that I needed to be careful not to use overly moist berries in my Komo mill. Fortunately the owners manual gives a handy rule of thumb. Smash a berry with a spoon on the counter. If it cracks with a nice snap, it's dry enough. If it just kind of smashes, it's too wet. Unfortunately after it seemed that the berries were dry, they smashed. I had to dry them out for a whole day to get them to crack again. When they got back into a crackable state, they had lost all the water weight that I'd put into them. Furthermore the bread I made with these tempered and redried berries was flavorless.
So presumably my berries are moist enough as it is, and don't need water added. This still leaves the question of whether I'll get good enough bran separation during milling without going through the tempering step. But for now at least I've put tempering on hold.
For my next few bakes, I tried a milling and sifting approach as follows. Mill berries coarsely. Sift. (I used a roughly #24 strainer - that is 24 holes per inch.) Remill what is caught by the sifter at medium coarse, and sift again. Remill the leavings again at medium fine and sift again. Remill the leavings again at fine and sift again. Stop. The flour and bran in the picture above resulted from this approach. While the bread I baked with this approach was a lot tastier than the one with the mis-tempered flour, I still felt that a lot was left to be desired.
Today, I went out and got more sifting ammunition. A roughly #30 strainer, and a roughly #40 splatter screen. I also changed my approach to milling and sifting. In addition to remilling the leavings and resifting, I decided to progressively sift the flour. So I milled the berries at medium, then sifted in the #24 strainer and set aside the leavings. Then sifted the flour in the #30 strainer and set aside the leavings. Then sifted the flour in the #40 strainer and mixed all the leavings from the three sifts together and remilled at medium. Then went through the 3 siftings again of the remilled material and added to the flour.
The flour I got from this process was lighter and silkier than the other approach. The bad news is that I started with 350g of berries and got only 170g of flour, a less than 50% extraction rate. That meant that to get a full bake, I had to add a lot of other flour, which I did. So the flour from the Upinngil wheat berries ended up at a quarter of total flour. To throw yet another wild card into the bake, I hadn't prepared starter in advance, but I had some leftover rye starter from a bake a few days ago in the refrigerator, and I decided to use as is. However, not knowing how potent it was I threw in some instant yeast.
Of course any bread I got out of this was just in the interests of science (aka hacking around with milling and sifting.) And here is what I got. Mild and pleasant, but just another step along the way toward something or other.
KA Bread Flour
Grind 350g hard red wheat berries at medium
Sift in #24 sifter. Sift resulting flour in #30 sifter.
Sift resulting flour in #40 sifter.
Regrind all the leavings at medium.
Redo the three part sift. This left me with 170g silky
golden brown flour.
Mix all ingredients in mixer. When all ingredients incorporated mix at speed 2 for 20 minutes.
BF 1.5 hours until dough is double.
Cut and preshape. Rest 15 minutes.
Shape into batards. Proof 1 hour. Coat with bran/semolina mix.
Slash and bake at 450 F with steam for 20 minutes, without for 25 minutes
Addendum: Andy's recent post about bolted wheat flour from an operating watermill, led me straight to google to look up bolting. Well bolting is sifting, but it has an interesting history as I found in this article - http://www.angelfire.com/journal/millbuilder/boulting.html There is a lot of interesting stuff in this article but one of the things that struck me is that much of sifting has been done with cloth rather than a wire mesh. Which leads me to wonder if that would be a good strategy for the home miller. Would a nylon or silk stocking work? Has anyone tried it?