The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grain Millers: What type of wheat do you prefer?

subfuscpersona's picture

Grain Millers: What type of wheat do you prefer?

This TFL thread grain-millers-what-type-wheat-do-you-prefer is the mother of this forum category. It was originally posted by fleur-de-liz to the forum General Discussion and Recipe Exchange > Whole Grains on October 6, 2007

There were many important responses to this thread and it inspired our webmaster to create, for us, a forum dedicated to Grains and Milling

Lest the contributions of those who originally replied be forgotten, I thought it would be useful to point back to this original post.

acb_rn's picture

Currently, I have only used hard red spring wheat and hard white winter wheat for breadmaking and soft white winter wheat for pastries.  I am noticing differences in rise time, temperature and volume, though.  I don't mind this as I feel good things are worth the work and wait, but I would like to know if others experience this same thing compared to packaged flour, and if so, do you have any tips for working with these different types of grain? And, what are some other good grain recommendations?

subfuscpersona's picture

I am noticing differences in rise time, temperature and volume...I would like to know if others experience this same thing compared to packaged flour

Variability in rise time and volume depends in part on the fineness of your whole wheat flour, regardless of whether it is home milled or store bought. All whole grain flour absorbs more water than the equivalent amount (by weight) of white flour, but *it takes longer to do so*. The bran particles are the hardest and take the longest to absorb water. The coarser your flour feels, the longer it will take to absorb water. I have found significant variability in the fineness of the flour among store bought brands. How does the fineness of the flour that you home mill compare to the whole wheat store bought flour you've used in the past?

For home milled whole wheat flour, another variable affecting gluten development (and therefore rise and volume) is the age of the flour. The general concensus on this site is that, for best gluten development, home milled flour should *either* be used within about 24 hours of milling OR be stored for at least 4 weeks prior to use. Simple exposure to oxygen brings about chemical changes in all wheat flour that improve its gluten development properties. Most home millers on this site prefer to use their flour shortly after milling and don't report problems with gluten development (this is also my preference). However, if you mill grain for several bakings, you're better off holding the extra flour for at least 4 weeks.

The above are only very general observations.

If you would like to continue the discussion, you should post back with specific information on the brands of whole wheat flour that you've used along with the specifics of what grain it is milled from (from the package label), the brand of grain mill you use, and whether your hard red / white spring wheat is organic or not.

Do you routinely use any of the standard techniques for dealing with whole grain flour, such as soakers, mashes, poolish, autolyse, etc.?

The more specific you can be, the more likely that someone will have some good, targeted observations and/or advice for you.

PS I'm not quite sure what you mean by differences in temperature. Do you mean the temperature of the dough during mixing? during bulk fermentation? something else?


acb_rn's picture

I'm sorry, I meant difference in temperature for rising.  With the prepackaged bleach flour, it would rise relatively quickly sitting out on the counter, with the whole grain, I usually put it in a warmer place and it still takes a bit longer to rise.  Of course with the other factors involved in fresh milling, it makes sense why.  The wheatberries I buy are in bulk, but not branded other than being certified organic and from Utah.  I get them through a local organic foods co-op.  I use a Nutrimill brand grain mill, and the types of wheat I have used thus far are Hard Red Spring, Hard White Winter and Soft White Winter.  I have experimented with the fine and coarse settings a bit.  The dial for fineness is fluid so I can easily and slowly move between levels of fineness versus only being able to choose between fine and coarse.  I am finding that I really like to use a coarser grind on the hard red spring for a nutty flavor  and I've been mixing it with a fine grind hard white wheat grind for the smooth texture and fluffier bread.  I am curious about the textures and flavors of spelt and quiona, I don't have good access to healthfood stores to buy small amounts of these for trial, so any good descriptions of those flavors?

athagan's picture

I have come to prefer a 50:50 mix of hard red and hard white wheat for my flour.

We used to use all red wheat because that was what we could get. When the hard white came on the scene we liked it a lot and figured we'd go over to using just that. But we had all this hard red already so I started mixing it 50:50 until we used up all of the hard red. Well, come to find out we like that best of all.

I often make bread with the flour still warm from the mill, but as I try to mill enough flour at one time to last for a couple of weeks the next baking will be using flour a week old or more. I honestly can't tell much difference between whether it's just out of the mill or three weeks old. I don't age mine on the counter though. If I don't use it on the spot all whole-grain flour and meal is stored in the fridge.


The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

subfuscpersona's picture

response to acb_rn's posts on April 9 and April 18 in this thread...

The wheatberries I buy are in bulk, but not branded other than being certified organic and from Utah...the types of wheat I have used thus far are Hard Red Spring, Hard White Winter and Soft White Winter...I am curious about the textures and flavors of spelt and quiona...any good descriptions of those flavors?

Like you, I home mill grain with a Nutrimill, so all comments are for home milled grain. All the grain I buy is either certified organic or certified chemical/pesticide free.

I find flour from hard white spring wheat to be rather flavorless but I've noticed that those who generally prefer white bread find the substitution of flour milled from hard white spring wheat to be very acceptable. Kids readily accept it too. (I give away a lot of the loaves I bake)


I like this grain a lot and it is frequently mentioned by other bakers on TFL. If we make a flavor scale of 1 to 10 for grain, where 1 is the least pronounced flavor and 10 is the most pronounced flavor, I would give hard white spring wheat a 1, hard red spring wheat a 10 and give spelt a ratiing of 4 or 5. Some posters here have described the taste as "nutty". Spelt has less of the the gluten developing properties of hard wheat, so you may want to combine it with wheat flour to get a good rise.


A wonderful grain, but pricey. Flavor scale rating 6-7. Genetically related to modern wheat (as is spelt). Used (and loved) by some other bakers on TFL. I always try to keep a few pounds on hand and I love it. I often crack the grain (sorry! you can *not* use a Nutrimill to crack grain) and use as a substitute for rice (cook it as if it were bulgar). Makes superb tabouli. And yes, I do at times mill it into flour for bread.

Hard Red Winter Wheat...

Slightly less protein (and gluten forming ability) than hard red spring but don't count it out. If your bread recipe is mostly wheat flour, water, yeast, salt (maybe a little sweetener and/or oil) it works very well, especially for artisan breads and pizza. Artisan breads are often made of wheat flours that have less protein than flour milled from hard spring wheat. Respected bread author Jeffrey Hamelman notes that winter wheat may be better than spring wheat for breads undergoing long fermentation. No taste difference from hard red spring wheat. May hydrate slightly faster than hard spring wheat (difference is subtle).


Again, a wonderful grain but very different from wheat and it's cousins. Different milling properties, significantly different baking properties. I don't make bread with a high % of rye flour. However, I do notice that a small amount of rye flour (? maybe 10% of total flour weight) seems to make preferments (especially preferments with a high amount of water, like a poolish) rise slightly faster. Also, organic rye flour seems to be the most reliable flour for creating a sourdough starter from scratch (I've had good success with it).

A side note on minerals in flour...

Just from practical experience and observation in my own bread baking, yeast (commerical or "wild") seems to like the minerals available in whole grain flours. In wheat, minerals are concentrated in the bran and germ rather than the endosperm. Yeast seems to multiply faster when whole grain flour is used, rather than white. This is, as I've noted, more obvious if you're doing a high hydration starter where the water and the flour are about equal in weight.