The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to grinding, ratios wanted...

NoobGrinder's picture

New to grinding, ratios wanted...

Here goes.

I'm completely new to milling. To this end, I've bought a brand new KitchenAid Grain Mill attachment for my beast of a mixer. I've also been given 70+lbs of red hard spring wheat, 40lbs of soft white winter wheat, and a few lbs of hard white wheat to work with. Happening upon this forum, I am now feeling quite like drowning in an ocean of information, when all I'm really looking for is something basic to start with. If I were to cruise this forum all night, I think I would probably just give up and go back to store bought flour and bread. Which would completely destroy what I'm trying to do here, which is show my daughter that self-reliance and the ability to do the basics like making bread, can be rewarding, not to mention MUCH healthier than the nutrition-less store bought breads...


So, what I'm looking for is this... What ratios would I use of these grains, to accomplish "all purpose" style flour? And how would I treat it differently in baking your "standard" bread? Would I treat it differently? What are your preferred mixes of wheats for breads? I know I will try my own, but I'd like to try someone else's tried and true methods before going full-bore into my own creative mind. I'm reading all these things like soaking and leaving flour in water overnight to bump it's humidity up, and how horrible some people think a mixer with a dough hook is... 

Guide me, oh knowledgable ones! :D

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Why don't you try just the hard red wheat first, if you are looking to make sandwich-style bread?  I have a KA grain mill (and a Nutrimill now, too) and I take care of it by putting the grain through twice -- first, a kind of of rough grind, and then putting it through again, with the finest grind I can get.  I don't grind more than a pound or so at a time. 

Your flour won't be quite as fine as store-bought, but that's OK.  I just put mix the liquid ingredients together first, and put in as much of the flour and dry  ingredients as I can to get a soft dough.  (I leave the salt, yeast and fat out so far, so not all the flour will mix  in.) Let that sit for about 30-60 minutes.  This is called auto-lyse and it makes a tremendous difference.  Whole grain flour needs time to absorb water.  Then you can add the rest of the flour, sometimes adding another T. or so of water to help the yeast and salt mix in a bit better.

For even nicer dough, don't knead all the way yet.  Let the dough sit at room temp. for about half an hour, and then put in the fridge overnight or so.  Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up about an hour, shape, rise, and bake.... of course, rising takes a bit longer since it's cold.

Happy grinding!

NoobGrinder's picture

Do you have a preferred recipe for this? I have enough experience with baking with store-bought ingredients, but this will be my first foray into the world of "real". :P

Yerffej's picture

All purpose flour is generally a mix of soft and hard wheat.  The process to create that flour is quite sophisticated and very complex.  You will not create AP type flour at home unless you were to invest a lot of time and money in equipment and even then you would fall short AP flour as you know it.  What you will be creating is 100% whole meal flour and using the mill that you have the flour will be a bit coarse and in mixing it will require more water than AP flour.

What you should be looking for are recipes that use some or all whole wheat flour in the mix.  Without knowing your baking experience it is difficult to know where steer your attention from here.


NoobGrinder's picture

That's a fair and good explanation. I guess I was looking for the best approximation available without a billion dollar investment. I'm seeing a lot of 60:40 hard:soft wheats being tossed around. I've no problems going 100% hard red to begin with of course, just trying to get some of the concepts down.

As a sideline, the farmer I get my wheat from also recommended crushing 1/4 of a vitamin C tablet into every "batch" of flour (a pound or so), to help leavening. What would be the benefit to this?

My experience in baking is only with store ingredients. AP flour, etc.. But I've been baking yeast breads for 25 years, along with the standards like banana breads, cookies, brownies and such. I'd say I'm fairly well versed, insofar as the confines of store-bought ingredients.

Yerffej's picture

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is used as a dough conditioner.  You do not need it and should you decide to use it, a quarter of a tablet would be more than enough for many many many pounds of dough.

Find a recipe that uses a combination of AP flour and whole wheat flour.  If you are comfortable with whole wheat you could use as much as 50% whole wheat in a recipe, if not then I would use less.  You could use an existing AP bread recipe of your own and substitute 25% of the flour with your home milled flour.  Your whole wheat will need more water than the equivalent amount of AP flour.  Mill your flour right before you use it and do not mill extra ahead of time.  Follow the previous advice given and mill coarsely first and then re-mill as finely as possible.  The KA mill is not ideal but it does work.  The more you work with whole wheat the more you will know about how to work with whole wheat.

Let us know how it all goes,


NoobGrinder's picture

My first loaf rose BEAUTIFULLY in the bowl, and transferring it to the pan, I lost a TON of air from it, which is fine, I suppose. It rose while baking, but never as high as in the bowl. The loaf was dense, but not more dense than any "multigrain" commercial bread... I mean, it wasn't a brick.


I milled right before making the bread, I autolysed the flour for 2 hours, and I honestly couldn't tell any major graininess or such from it. Aside from the INSANE amount of time needed to make bread (which is excellent, we as a species need to get away from buying things like this), I'm hooked. :D

Crider's picture

It's hard wheat for breads, soft wheat for cakes, biscuits and pie crusts.

NoobGrinder's picture

So you would personally stick to blending things like hard red and hard white together, but avoid mixing say ... Hard red and soft white?

proth5's picture

Jeff's sentiments about obtaining "all purpose" flour from your relatively unsophisticated milling set up.  Yes, the KA mill is way on the unsophisticated edge of home milling equipment.

If you care to read some blogs where folks have done work that only approaches your stated goal, some good starts are here and here

White flour at home is not a project for the faint of heart.

I'll echo again that starting with the hard wheats for bread is a good idea - any good formula for commercial whole wheat is a good starting point for home milled whole wheat.  If you are an expereinced baker you can evaluate your results and make adjustments.  "More water" is the typical adjustment, but isn't always the solution.

Use the soft wheat for quick breads and pastries - like scones or piecrust.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) acts as an oxidizer in flour (please don't everybody pile on an tell me it's an anti-oxidant.  It acts as an oxidizer in wheat flour) and will "tighten" the gluten structure somewhat. It is often recommended in home milled flour to shore up any perceived weakness in the flour and make it stronger.  It also substitutes somewhat for the aging process - which again will make the gluten structure stronger. - and is not usually done by home millers  Too much ascorbic acid will damage your flour, so it's wise to start with very little and then gradually increase the amount.  Frankly I've tried it and don't feel the need to use it.

Sorry if I sound a little harsh.  A lot of home millers come here with the goal of milling their own all purpose flour.  When one really finds out what is involved, one rapidly becomes gratefull for the bags of flour we buy so casually.  My advice is to enjoy each type of wheat for what is is and enjoy the process of making whole wheat baked goods.

I am currently having a long private chat with someone who is really dedicated to idea of producing home milled white flour.  I've had to pass on quite a few expensive and labor intensive suggestions. I'd be glad to discuss any particulars via private message, however, if you really want to do this.

Happy Milling!

NoobGrinder's picture

I guess I wasn't entirely clear. I don't want all purpose flour. If I wanted AP, I'd buy it. :P I have no interest whatsoever in removing the germ and bran from the wheat to make a nutritionally inferior product. I'm completely jumping in feet-first into full on whole wheat stuffs. I was merely asking in that regard as to what people would say that the rough equivalent of hard:soft wheats is in AP flour. Not the entire ridiculous process of taking what I have invested in (the wheats, because the KA mill was free) and making it into, effectively, what I am avoiding purchasing. For more money. :P I'll leave that up to the people with such a drive, and more money and time on their hands than I. :P

Ascorbic acid I'll leave out of the equation then. The logic was sound in a way, but the information given was loose at best. I was going to avoid it anyways.

It doesn't sound harsh at all. If I made it seem like "I want what I can buy in the store", then I wasn't coming across clearly. I DON'T want what I can get in the store. I don't WANT "white" flour. I was wanting an approximation on ratios in order to attempt some of my recipes that specifically CALL for AP. But, from what I've read, basically I can just do a full-out swap for my milled stuff and adjust the water and time a bit and see what happens.

proth5's picture

about the mis interpretation.  As I said, I'm in pretty deep with another poster who really does want white flour and probably took that meaning to your post.

I've also been studying professional milling/wheat flour texts as of late and can't help giving you a little lecture on "All purpose" flour.  This is really a product for home bakers who didn't want to keep multiple bins of flour.  It really is best referred to as "no purpose" flour as it is always a sort of a compromise.  In general (King Arthur All Purpose with its high protien content - 11.5% - being an exception) it isn't all that good for breads.  It will make an acceptable bread, but the bread could usually be improved with a higher protein flour.  It will make acceptable pastry - but really is too high in protein (and our friend the KA All purpose especially) to make the very best pastry. You can use it to thicken gravies or coat fried chicken.  It does everything! - Sort of.

This is one of the great things about home milling - we can have fresh whole grain flour at the protein content (and there is much more to how flour performs in baking than protein content - but that is a good, rough measure) that is actually the right one for the product you are making.

That really is the foundation of my saying that blending probably isn't required - and it would be very hard to give ratios anyway.  You should appreciate the wheats for what they are and enjoy the fact that you are no longer bound by what some mega-miller wants to call "All purpose."  As you taste your products, you might be able to evaluate - for example, maybe a sweet roll seems just a little tough.  You might try 10% of soft wheat along with the hard wheat.  But you will always evaluate in terms of the product - not some nebulous goal of "All purpose."

Lecture over.

Have fun milling! 

NoobGrinder's picture

No apologies necessary. One of the biggest flaws in this "computer era" is the fact that emotions and intent are often lost in communication, without ridiculous typing of emoticons and smilies.

So what I did this morning was to try my hand at just "going for it". I found a recipe I wanted to try, ground up 400g of red hard, and 80g of white soft, mixed them together, milled twice (once coarsest setting, once finest), and the loaf is sitting on my cooling rack right now. It looks and smells AMAZING. I know there is room for tweaking, but I also know where that's necessary. Especially in the autolyse process. I gave it about half an hour, wherein I think it would be better in this case if I would have left it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, overnight. But we'll see what the taste and texture are.

subfuscpersona's picture

If you're not adverse to baking bread from a mix of your own home milled whole wheat flour and a commercial white unbleached bread flour, a ratio (by weight) of 30% whole wheat + 70% commercial bread flour will give you a light whole wheat bread that still can get a good rise. 

I have a KA grain mill which I used weekly for over 20 years to mill flour for bread baking. Your KitchenAid grain mill cannot make a really fine flour; even if you mill twice (as suggested) the flour will still be slightly granular. The higher the proportion of whole wheat flour, the heavier the bread. The suggestion of an autolyse will definitely help this granular flour absorb your liquid.

For a discussion of the baking properties of home milled flour from hard red wheat vs hard white , you might want to check out this post - it shows loaves made with a 50/50 mix of commercial unbleached bread flour and home milled whole wheat flour. (The flour was milled with my Nutrimill, which produces a fine flour.)

Whatever approach you chose, I wish you happy baking with your mill. There can be a learning curve in the beginning but you'll learn how to make the breads you and yours like to eat. And remember, TFL is always a great resource for any further questions you may have.

NoobGrinder's picture

I appear to have neglected this response. :P


What I am attempting to do, is take my family back to when food was real. Commercial flours make me just ... Uncomfortable now. Knowing how they're prepared, what all is lost in the preparation, etc.. I'll go through and read those links now.


And after using the KA mill only once, I'm relatively happy with the results. I ran red/white hard wheat through it once coarse, and once as fine as the mill would allow, and it came out looking like ... Well, like flour, honestly. I mean, it wasn't the consistency of icing sugar, but it left an annoying residue on my fingertips. :P I can already see the benefits to using a better mill, but budget doesn't allow for that right now. 

MangoChutney's picture

My home-milled flour mix is currently made with 1/6 barley, 1/6 hard winter wheat, and 2/3 hard spring wheats. The wheats are roughly split between red and white. The exact combination is subject to change as I find new grains to try, but I don't let the low-gluten grain exceed 1/6. I am making a soft sandwich bread, leavened with sourdough.

As has been mentioned above, the most important thing is to give the flour enough water, and give it enough time to absorb that water. Home-milled whole grain flours absorb more water per weight than store-bought all-purpose flours, but absorb it more slowly. This is probably due to the bran content, and possibly due to being somewhat less finely milled.

NoobGrinder's picture

Do you have a preferred recipe for "sandwich bread"? Assuming I will autolyse (I can't see why I wouldn't, it's just flour and water mixed and sitting there, it's not like it takes any extra actual EFFORT), how much more water should I add to a recipe?

MangoChutney's picture

My recipe for sourdough whole grain sandwich bread is as follows. This is very detailed and I am sure there are other ways to do any given thing. You did ask for my recipe, though. *smile*

Warmed-Up Starter:

8 ounces starter removed from refrigerator in morning
6.6 ounces of water
2 tablespoons of instant non-fat dry milk

Stir until fairly smooth and leave covered until evening.


warmed-up starter from above
9.6 ounces whole grain mixture, freshly milled

Mix just until all flour is wetted. Cover and let ferment overnight on counter-top.


7.2 ounces water roux (see below)
6.6 ounces water
5 ounces Greek yogurt
19.2 ounces whole grain mixture, freshly milled

Mix just until all flour is wetted. Soak overnight on counter-top, covered.

Water Roux:

1.2 ounces whole oats, freshly milled
6 ounces water

Cook with constant stirring until thick like breakfast porridge. Make up any lost water by weighing the pre-soak mixing bowl before and after transferring the water roux.

Bread Dough:

all of the pre-soak
1.25 teaspoons of salt
all but 8 ounces of the pre-ferment
4 teaspoons of olive oil

Place 8 ounces of the pre-ferment in the starter storage container and return to the refrigerator. Knead the rest with the pre-soak and the salt until blended. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until all lumps are gone and the dough feels nice to your hands. With my Breville mixer and a dough hook, this takes about 2 minutes without the oil, followed by about 30 seconds with the oil, and finally a couple of minutes by hand.

Let rise once in the bowl. This should take about two hours. Shape into loaf and place in pan (10.5" x 5"). Let rise again. This may take an hour.

Dribble a little water over the top of the loaf to moisten the surface. Place in convection oven pre-heated to 450F. Cover the pan with an inverted identical pan to retain water vapor during first 20 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F (the higher pre-heat temperature is to diminish the effect of opening the door to put in the pan). Remove the "lid" pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Decant loaf onto rack for cooling.

Slice one end off while still warm, butter with real sweet cream butter, and share with someone. Wrap cut end of loaf in waxed paper to retain moisture.