The Fresh Loaf

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Home Milled Flour

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proth5's picture
proth5

Home Milled Flour

For those of you who have followed bwraith’s adventures in artisan milling – and I commend them to all – let me say that I am nowhere near his level of attention to detail and analytics. I just thought I might post as I’ve taken an approach that is more accessible to the average home miller.

 

I am milling on a Diamant 525 which is hand powered and uses metal grinding plates. I hand sift using plastic sieves. Here is a picture:

My last milling effort was as follows:

  1. Temper 16 oz of Hard White Winter wheat with .5 oz of water for 36 hours – wheat is dry to the touch at milling time
  2. Coarse grind – sift through #30 sieve - return what remained in sifter to grinder
  3. 2nd coarse grind – sift through #30 sieve – reserve what remained in sieve which appeared to be fluffy bran (2.5 oz). Use what passed through sieve for next grind
  4. Medium grind – sift through #30 sieve – return what remained in sieve to grinder
  5. 2nd Medium grind – combine all of the material to the grinder
  6. Fine grind – sift through #50 sieve – return material in sieve to grinder
  7. 2nd fine grind – sift through #50 sieve – return material in sieve to grinder
  8. 3rd fine grind – combine all material.
  9. Age flour for 16 days (for no particular reason other than I was away and couldn’t bake)

 

This seems like a lot of passes, but they go pretty fast and aren’t as strenuous as doing a single fine pass from berry to flour. The flour was fine, silky, and creamy in color.


I am not a whole wheat purist and I have reserved the bran for other uses. The remaining flour (about 85% extraction) was used in a 100% home milled flour levain. I used the technique described in the book “Bread – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” in the formula for “Un-kneaded, Six-Fold French Bread” – I however, shaped a single batard.

 

Again, I am not a whole grain purist and I usually mix white flour with my home milled. Not this time – 100% home milled. This was the first time I considered my results acceptable and I am posting pictures of the finished loaf and the crumb. Despite its many, many flaws, the bread is good and well, a first attempt is a first attempt.

To my bread baking teacher – whose raised voice I can hear telling me that I always focus on what is wrong – I apologize for my negativity. But you gave me this assignment and if you are on this forum and happen to see this post – I am handing in my homework. Yes, tempering makes a big difference for the home miller…

Comments

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

The bread looks great. The white wheat results in a light golden crumb color - whiter than my results at about the same extraction rate. I look forward to playing with my white wheat. I have some hard white winter wheat I just received from Heartland Mill, and I've had what I think is hard white spring wheat from Wheat Montana. I like to mix white and red wheat in whole wheat breads, but I haven't tried it with high extraction flours yet, let alone home milled.

Although your process is a little different since you aren't making use of stacks of sieves, it seems like it creates a similar flour, which doesn't surprise me. I guess one difference is I'm not regrinding flour any of the flour that makes it through the #70 sieve. I don't know if that would make much difference, though.

I agree completely that tempering makes a big difference. I suspect it also would make a difference even for making whole wheat flour. The texture of the flour from the mill seems more silky and less sandy even before any sifting when it has been tempered.

Thanks for posting your results. It helps to see the photos and another example of a sifting procedure.

If you get a chance, could you clarify when you say "combine remaining material" or the like in a couple of places describing your process, which material it is? I'm not totally clear in a couple of cases which material is being reground in the various passes through the mill.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

 

Thanks for the kind words about the bread.

 

I am a big fan of white whole wheat.  I really like the milder flavor and use it exclusively.  Chacun a son gout!

 

I’ll try to clarify what I do on my milling passes.  Tell me if I am not clear enough.  I’m coming off a system “go live” (and if you have ever done this you know how I am feeling) and have just recently regained my ability to form words.

 

After the 2nd Coarse Grind, the bran is reserved and does not enter the milling process again.

 

After the 2nd Medium Grind all of the material – the stuff that passed through the sieve and the stuff that remained in the sieve is returned to the grinder.  Why sift at all?  I just wanted to get weights.  Really no need to sift at that point.

 

The 3rd fine grind is just the material that remained in the sieve from the 2nd fine grind.  This is not sifted, but just mixed in with all the material that has gone through all the sieving (except the bran) up to this point.

 

I’d do a flowchart, but this morning I did some milling and when I looked at and felt the results, I added more passes.  There is definitely some variability in the process and I see a moisture meter in my future.  My multi pass approach allows me to adjust at each step.  I would guess that is more like the process used by the millers of yore.  Adjusting the milling process to environmental factors is the miller’s skill.

 

What I find is that a second pass after the #50 sieve adds a lot to the silkiness of the flour.  This could be the difference between steel and stone.

 

It took me about 1.5 hours (including a quick tea break) to grind 24 oz. of wheat berries using multiple passes.  That’s a lot of time to get flour, I guess, but considering that I now do not have to go to the gym I am thinking it is time well spent.

 

I did not have the presence of mind (see above) to mill enough for two full bread batches today, but most of today’s output went directly from mill to dough.  I am aging the remainder in a small flour sack and will bake it in a couple of weeks.  I won’t be able to bake the same size loaf, but might get more data on the comparison between the two. I'll post if I am not totally ashamed of the results...

 

The reserved bran from my last milling went into bran muffins which came out well.  That’s the way I like it – bread a little whiter and some sugar with my bran.  In fact, I am beginning to sense a lot of culinary possibilities with this home milling process and I hope you are, too.

 

(BTW: I now see that the pictures have appeared in my blog - must be magic!)

 

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

Thanks for the clarification. I got it. Yes, I agree there is some variability. I've adjusted things on the fly too, but I'm beginning to narrow it down a little. It probably will always be subject to change, since the grain will change, and the mill setting is very difficult to make completely consistent. The feed rate affects the output in various ways, and that is also hard to precisely control.

I think a moisture meter is a good thing, given how much the tempering seems to affect the results.

I agree that the texture becomes more silky just passing the grain through the mill again, even without sifting. However, I think that the flour coming through my #70 sieve, or the 80 mesh in the Meadows sifter, is silky enough. So, I have only done regrinding on the product larger than #70 so far.

The bran muffins sound good. My version is to make "cream of wheat" for breakfast out of the "mill feed". It is very good, surprisingly. One of my sons loves it. We go through that faster than I bake bread, so there is very little lost in either nutritional value or waste because of that.

Bill

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

One reason I've also tended to reserve any flour coming through the #70 sieve, in addition to the fact it already seems fine enough, is that I've noticed the Retsel Mil-Rite and to some lesser extent the Meadows Mill work slowly and seem to strain a little more when re-milling fine flour. Although the flour doesn't get all that warm on the Meadows when re-milled, I think it's warmer than it would be not re-milled.

I doubt it makes much difference, but it's something to consider. In your case, I wonder if it might be easier to use a finer sieve (#70 is what works for me) to remove the already fine and fairly silky flour in whichever pass tends to yield a lot of it. It's hard to say whether the removal of the fine flour, which takes some extra work, would then be made up with much easier milling sessions on the remaining product. In my case, that would have been worth it for sure with the Retsel. However, the Meadows seems to be able to re-mill flour much more effectively than the Retsel. Maybe I haven't figured out the right separation, or maybe I should be using the steel buhrs on the Retsel.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Get your point on the remilling.  I don't experience much of a difference when I remill the finer flour - I just keep cranking along - things "sound" and "feel" the same - could be the steel buhrs.

I'll have to research a #70 just one pass through the #50 does not "do it" for me - but I don't want to start down the road of the brass sieves.  I'm not sure my old arms would survive the effort of cranking the mill and sifting with a heavy sifter and those plastic sievs fit so neatly on my big bowl :>).

The more I get into this stuff - the more I know I don't know.

Still waiting until my brain is clear enough to go through your analysis...

Pat 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Pat,

This is not based on any  great scientific knowledge, but if you decide to get a #70 sieve, I'd suggest finding one with either nylon or stainless steel. Both of those should work better with flour, which is a touch moist. Also, I wonder if there isn't some chance of having copper or zinc from the brass wire getting into the flour.

I wonder if it could be worth making a sieve? Stainless steel bolting cloth and nylon, which are in the various sifter sections on my Meadows sifter, has a larger percentage open area than the standard sieves with regular wire seem to have, which makes them more efficient. You sound very handy. Maybe they or someone else with an inventory of mill grade bolting cloth could be convinced to send you a yard of the cloth.

A hand sifter might consist of a light, square plastic bin to use as a catch pan and a sieve made by making a square frame that fits the catch pan with sides of some light, stiff wood with the bolting cloth stretched under some smaller "rails" of wood and tacked down to the frame. Or, maybe make the catch pan part of the frame itself by putting very light, thin surface material, like very thin sheet metal, wood veneer, or mylar sheet or whatever on the bottom of the frame and making a drain hole somewhere in the frame.

That idea comes from looking at the sifter sections in the Meadows Mill. A smaller hand version of one of those sections would be fairly light. In fact, I think if I set one of those sections on my smooth floor and just shook it back and forth and maybe lift it and gently tap it on the floor little, it would probably work pretty well by hand. The catch pan is integrated in the sifter section. That's another idea. Maybe you could get an 80 mesh sifter section from Meadows, and just use it by hand.

Just some crazy ideas. I'm probably off in the impractical zone, yet again.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Alas! For some reason my handiness stops when I try woodworking.  Uh, I actually thought of your solution of building boxes with cloth or stainless screen and was about ready to do it when I caught your blog and got the lead on the mining sieves.  I'll be honest that with the volume I usually do and these results, I'm going to take a deep breath, get a moisture meter, and refine the tempering technique before I head deeper down the rabbit hole.

I'm right there with you on the #70 screen and perhaps the #80 mesh from Meadows - I'd do it - I would - but my friends are getting concerned about me and I need to demostrate that I will not become a danger to myself and others :>)

But your ideas are good and I will probably come back to them in due time.

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

Right, I didn't think you'd necessarily be all set to jump on making your own sieves. Still, I had to at least mention the possibility. You egged me on into doing lab testing, which I believe could qualify me for the "a danger to myself and others" category, if getting the Meadows sifter, sieve shaker, a gazillion sieves, and a Meadows Mill and a Retsel mill hadn't already. So, turnabout is fair play. You are to be commended for your general restraint and good sense. At least I didn't go get an NIR analyzer. Very sensible of me, eh?

Bill

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven
proth5's picture
proth5

Mini O,

Yes, you can spend some serious green on sieves.

Lest the home miller go into shock at the price of sieves - I paid considerably less per sieve at www.lmine.com and I really only need two of them(for now...).  Mine are plastic with stainless steel screens.  I can't certify that the plastic is "food safe" but the flour is in minimal contact with the plastic and for a very short time.

I'm teetering on the brink while shopping for moisture meters, but I don't want to leave the impression that this has been a terribly expensive undertaking beyond the reach of most people.  Yes, I have an expensive mill, but similar mills - such as the Country Living Mill would be able to do the same things. Other than the sieves I have (to date hehe) not purchased any other specialized equipment.

But thanks for the link.  This has been a great learning experience.

Pat

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat, MiniOven,

A Meadows sifter section sells for something like $165, I think. It would provide about 3 or 4 times the area of a 12 inch sieve, and probably at a slightly higher percentage open area, making it more efficient than a 12 inch stainless sieve (in open sieve area per dollar). It has some chains on top that swish across the screen to help clear the flour helping it along even further in efficiency terms. Depending on how much flour you want to sift through a finer sieve like an 80 mesh, which could be a lot slower than the coarser ones doing by hand through a 12 inch sieve, it might make better economic sense to get an 80 mesh sieve section from Meadows and use it by hand, rather than a 12 inch stainless sieve for $112 at lmine.com, not that any of this makes sense to begin with, of course. Maybe I should see what it's like to sift flour through a Meadows sifter section. I'm thinking it would work pretty well, but I may be way off base.

By the way, I'm headed off on a trip where my bandwidth will go practically to zero, so don't be surprised if for the next week I'm unable to respond.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

As usual, I'm low tech.  I use my hand to swish the flour actross my sieve and really, for my volumes of flour the sifting goes very fast. 

One cool thing about using my hand - I can actually see flour on my fingers in my early passes - as I move on, I'll get down to the point where I see no flour - this is my indication that I've got a sifter full of bran and to reserve the bran.  This is what caused me to do the two extra passes on my non-aged flour.

As for keeping the sieve cost down, I have one word for you - "Plastics"

Have a good trip!

Pat

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Never said I wouldn't go completely off the deep end in the future - I reserve the right.  I'm plowing through your analytics and am sorely tempted to get some on my own flour - again, in the future after I have fooled people into thinking I am sane...

This has been a great adventure - and will be again!

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

It's probably too late and too far gone for me. I'd have to spend years convincing people, and I would never last long enough. Some reckless project would ruin my rep long before I managed to fool anyone.

So, I'll be keeping an eye on your blog - I'm all subscribed and ready for any flour testing, experiments, aging flour tests, or whatever else comes along.

Bill

syllymom's picture
syllymom

What does tempering mean? And why does it make a difference?

proth5's picture
proth5

There is a lot of discussion on tempering in bwraith's blog, but to recap briefly:

Tempering is the process of adding moisture to wheat berries to bring them to the proper moisture content for milling.  Moisture is added, and the wheat allowed to rest for varying periods of time. Tempering toughens the bran so that it is more easily removed from the endosperm and germ during milling.

It makes a difference to me because it allows me to get a somewhat whiter flour during the home milling process.  At some point during my milling passes I get a quantity of bran that I can take out of the process and get whiter (but not white) flour.

This is good for me as I am not a whole wheat purist.  I like a whiter bread and don't mind getting some fiber from bran muffins (which I can make with the bran).

This being said - the more I think about it - I would not advise this for folks using impact mills.  First - make a mistake about the moisture content and you can make a mess of your mill (I did on my first try).  Second - since impact mills really take the whole berry and reduce it to powder there is little opportunity for the sifting and separating process.

Hope this helps.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Pat, your bread looks very good! 

I know that I'll never get as involved in all of this as you and Bill, but for some reason I love reading about it.  THanks for posting.

proth5's picture
proth5

Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, this is becoming a bit of an obsession and I don't recommend it for everyone.  I was determined to stay at home milling until I got really good flour - not just "old hippie whole wheat."  I hope this helps other home millers.

mcgelligot's picture
mcgelligot

Great technical discussion on milling. I personally think several passes with fine sifting is the best modus operandi. Have you considered growing your own wheat?


You can get over 20 loaves of bread out of a plot 10 by 10 feet square. Plus, once you find a type of wheat you like, you can plant it year after year, heirloom fashion.


Have a great day!


McGelligot