The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello Fresh Loaf!! Re-localized flour milling & whole grain baking

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Steve Unifine Flour's picture
Steve Unifine Flour

Hello Fresh Loaf!! Re-localized flour milling & whole grain baking

I happened upon this web site over the Christmas holiday and was blown away at how beautiful David Snyder's baking was. I had some time on my hands and spent several hours reading old blog posts and just wandering around the web site.  The "butter" on my bread of the journey was the pleasure of actually visiting with Keith Giusto that has a baking supply in northern California and owns Central milling just yesterday.  David referred me to him and that was much appreciated!  Not only does Keith know milling, but also is a master baker.  I think I've already found a great friend and resource...what a fun conversation!

My interest is in both re-localizing flour milling and promoting 100% whole grain baking both with bread and pastry flours.  On the latter, I've been recently introduced to the merits of "T-85" extraction flour that sifts out half the bran, but retains 100% of the germ by Stefan Senders at the Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansville N.Y.  I was reluctant to embrace taking anything out, but I've done some research and there is science supporting that, although baking with 100% whole grain is just a bit more challenging, but certainly worth the effort!  Also looking at "T-85" as a transition flour for those just departing from using white flour might be the application. It may also prove to be more accommodating to the commercial baker that wants to embrace the sensory experience of "whole wheat", but prefers a less challenging baking experience that comes with 100% "whole grain". I'd be interested in your thoughts and comments on that.

I'm mainly working with the Washington State University engineering department, but also Food Science and  the USDA Wheat Lab located on  campus. We've been exploring the merits of a unique milling system that my great Uncle and my parents were very supportive of.  The technology was nearly lost and we've taken a fresh look at it over the past six years and it's been encouraging.

I confess to still being very green with the milling and baking industry, but I'm having a lot of fun and have met some wonderful folks.  Dean Folkvord at Montana Wheat and now Keith Giusto have taken me under their wing, while enjoying looking over our shoulder.   This system may ultimately prove not to be significantly superior to hammer or stone mills  and we're only welcoming in anyone interested in the conversation to discover the truth.  To be clear, I have no interest in using this web site to sell anything and I'm sure I'd be promptly removed if I did.  We're in research mode and those conversations are always a lot of fun, but that line between "research" and "selling" is not "fine", it's very clear and I  promise not to cross it.

I'm looking forward to having some warm baking conversations "out in the kitchen" with the fellow  consumers who are increasingly interested in the relational elements of home baking and, in the process, using wholegrain flour that's holistically milled, and that is increasingly where the grain is grown.  While bread baking is fabulous, my good friends, the Stelzer's (and their customers) at Azure Standard bake a fabulous cake (and certainly cookies as well) with 100% whole grain pastry flour. I'm sure many of you saw the recent article in the NYT on whole grain cookie we're not just talking bread here folks and the pastry conversation is getting more participants every day!

I'll close my introduction by sharing a revelation that Keith and I mutually agreed on in our conversation yesterday.  Quality flour starts with quality wheat with proper protein content and etc.   It is, to a great extent, very much a regional issue with, for example, fabulous bread flour grains grown in western Montana and soft white pastry flour grain grown in eastern WA.  However, it's also a moving target based on the weather in a given year.   I mention this as I've seen blog posts  by consumers looking for "locally milled" grain that live in area's where quality grain isn't grown. What we're mostly consuming  now is over-processed centrally and industrially milled white flour and/or reconstituted white flour that has had the bran and the germ added back in ("whole wheat", but not "whole grain").  The latter mostly produced by central industrial roller mills.  The era of the local farming economy increasingly supported by local, holistic, one pass, un-hydrated,  flour milling is here and expanding.  However,  don't look for a proliferation of "local" flour mills throughout the U.S. I occasionally see folks seeking that and, economically speaking, that is challenging.

Cheers..........and hope I've not offended anyone and I'm sure I'll hear about it if I did...non intended!





golgi70's picture

You mentioned a website that doesn't sell?  I'd love to take a peak if its open for such. 

Good luck with your new adventure


Steve Unifine Flour's picture
Steve Unifine Flour


Ok, maybe "not selling" was a bit to absolute.

Chad Robertson sells cookbooks and the Tartine Bakery...??? Awesome.  I love his response to "why should I switch to whole grains?"   "Because refined white flour limits your palate. There were many more varieties of grain in regular use before baking became industrialized. You can only get a certain range of tastes with wheat; the ancient grains like rye, oats and barley have complex and unique profiles, and I like to showcase them. I’m more interested in their flavors than their nutritional profiles, although of course that’s a benefit".

Along with 700 guests, I attended Sarah and Joe's outdoor wedding at the Stelzer residence (Azure Standard) in Dufur,OR the summer of 2012. They served a cake made from whole grain pastry flour that was fabulous. Not only was it fluffy with great texture, but the character was complex with subtle nutty flavor notes.  .

It won't be complicated to find my web site Josh, enjoy the read :).  It does deal with a specific milling system that, for years, many have had high hopes of accelerating the shift to whole grains and re-localized whole grain flour milling.  Ultimately, though, I'm "selling" what a growing legion of consumers and artisans are promoting........whole grain consumption. I'll be focusing on that general conversation here and I'll soon blog that cake recipe.  Stay tuned... :)

I agree, this is exciting and it's a LOT of fun!