The Fresh Loaf

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Reinhart -- Alas, right about fresh flour

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Reinhart -- Alas, right about fresh flour

When I first read Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, I discounted a passage in which he writes about home grinding. I wish I could find the exact quote, but essentially, he says that while fresh flour tastes wonderful, it needs to be used within 7 hours or so of grinding -- otherwise, one needs to wait 2 weeks because enzymatic activity will hamper performance. After two weeks, the process is finished and the flour will perform well.

I didn't believe him ... but then I made another loaf of oatmeal bread from the leftover flour I'd ground up Sunday night. Everything about the two breads is identical except that in the first photo, the flour was used 1 hour after grinding and, in the other, the flour was used 2 days after grinding.

Check out the difference:

With flour that's 1 hour old:



And two days old:



Both loaves tasted great, but I think you'll agree, the fresher flour definitely saw better oven spring and a higher rise.

Peter Reinhart, I'll not doubt you again ....

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I don't remember that quote.  But I do remember he scarcely mentioned home milling, and was lukewarm about it when he did. 

I will often mill the flour in the evening and use it the next morning - maybe 12 or more hours later.  In those cases, I leave the flour out at room temp.

But I store leftover flour in the freezer.  And I'll do that for the overnight if it will help.

So, JMonkey, did you leave the flour out on the counter?

Rosalie

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

It's pretty cool in my house, though -- 50s at night, low 60s during the day. Perhaps it would have performed better had I put it in the freezer. If I know the flour won't be used for a while, that's where I store it. I'd have never imagined that 2 days on the counter would have such an impact, however.

FMM's picture
FMM

Wow, that's quite a difference.  The recipes I've tried so far from Whole Grains have  been starter/biga with a soaker.  I often mix the pre-ferments up 48 hours in advance.  Do you think that counts as using the flour within the first 7 hours or does 'use' really apply to baking??

Fiona 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

... use it in a dough within 7 hours. Once the grain is wet, it's a whole other ballgame, I'd suspect, with the enzymes, but that's just a guess on my part.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I have noticed that if you use home-milled flour that's still warm from the milling process, it absorbs slightly more water than flour that's been allowed to cool completely.

Not your particular problem, of course, but worth noting.

BTW, one member was able to rescue a 25 lb. bag of hard red wheat that produced a grassy taste in whole wheat bread by aging the flour 2 weeks.

The posts re this are in the thread discussion on grain milling, especially the post Experiment I: 2-week aged whole wheat

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Thanks subfuscpersona for those great links. Thanks to you, I found the Peter Reinhart quote I was looking for. Turns out, I hadn't read it in the book after all (or if it is, I can't find it). It was in a response to a question from Nataliya, right here on the good ol' Fresh Loaf:

For those who can do home milling, I highly advise it--you can't beat the fresh flavor. However, I also suggest using that flour as soon as possible, no longer than 8 to 12 hours after milling it. If it sits longer, you can run into performance problems like shrinking in the oven and bucky tops. If you do have extra flour from your milling, let it sit in a paper bag at room temperature for at least two weeks before using it again (it's an enzyme thing, explained in more detail in the new book).
For the life of me, I can't find the relevant section in the book, though I'm sure it must be there. If anyone else can find it, I'd be much obliged.
Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I specifically looked for his take on home milling, seeing as his book was on whole grains.  I found little if anything.  It was as though he wasn't aware of the possibility.  I think Reinhart is the best of the bread gurus, but I was disappointed by this.

Rosalie

sphealey's picture
sphealey

In fairness, home milling is a subject that can take an entire book of its own to discuss. And very few people do it. So it is reasonable of Reinhart and his editor to just touch on the topic in his book for general breadmakers.

sPh

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Well, there is an FAQ box "Can I Grind My Own Flour" on p. 172. There, he praises fresh flour very highly, but beyond that, doesn't say a whole lot more than there can be a lot of variation in consistency due to different growing seasons, varieties of wheat and farm conditions, so bakers will need to make a lot of adjustments.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Yes, that's what I found.  A brief, vague endorsement.  Not much for us who are hungry for information on fresh-ground flour.

Rosalie

rainbowbrown's picture
rainbowbrown

Dang, that's so neat.  Isn't it great when you (accidentally or on purpose) experiment and figure out a really useful piece of information?  Thanks JMonkey, a great new piece of knowledge for me.