The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hard Red Winter vs Hard Red Spring: Differences?

wlaut's picture
wlaut

Hard Red Winter vs Hard Red Spring: Differences?

While waiting for my GrainMaker to be shipped to me, I've begun experimenting with a couple varieties of wheat I bought at our local Amish store.

First, let me say that I am stunned at the differences between commercial flour and home-milled. But that's for another post.

What I'm asking here is if there's any real difference between Hard Red Winter vs Spring.  There seems to be a subtle difference in hydration, but in flavor and baked texture I'm harf-pressed to notice much, if any, differences.  Is there a difference besides time-of planting?  What types of baking do they Excel over the other?

 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf
  1.  Hammelman mentions a discussion In his book that he participated in that concluded spring wheat made better looking bread but winter wheat had better flavor. The mineral content is higher in winter wheat because of the longer time in the soil. There is a lot of individual varieties in each and they vary in qualities from year to year. 
wlaut's picture
wlaut

I was going by a graphic made by the U.S. Assoc of Wheat Growers, describing the six classes of wheat. So I bought four of them, and the other two (Durum and Soft Red Winter) next week.

What you said explains that graphic to me.  The Winter had a full Whole Wheat flavor to it, and even without kneading nor yeast it baked to produce nice "strips" of product.  The Spring didn't take as long to htdrate; and had a different, almost cracker-like appearance. It still tasted like Whole Wheat. So what I saw explains what you quote, that in the hands of an experienced baker, Spring produces a better-looking loaf.

I eagerly await my GrainMaker, so I can mill more than a quarter-cup at a time.  The home-milled is so radically different from, and improved over, commercial flour, so far in at least taste and hydration.  When I bought the wheat, it was mentioned to the cashier that I had bought a new mill. She then had a knowing smile and said, "once you've tasted fresh-milled you'll never go back." She's right; by comparison store-bought flour now tastes like "chalk dust" to me.  I can't wait to learn and master this new vistas of flour in order to see what exciting new things I can bake!

Thanks again...

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I have been milling at home for the last 2 years and it's better than I imagined. I have the Mock Mill 100 that I purchased at the introductory cost. I was concerned at first about the baking quality versus commercial flour but that never was an issue. I recommend a 40 mesh sifter even if the bran is going back into the bread because it oxygenates the flour and makes it a little finer. It also allows you to treat the bran as a separate ingredient to soak or toast or use in something else.

I have been using the local Wheat Montana berries but I want to get my hands on some other heritage grains after the coming harvest. Rye berries are a staple for my starter and the breads I like. I like working with spelt and am nearly out. Here's hoping they refill the grain bins this summer.

I was almost going to purchase the Grainmaker but the cost and the hand cranking held me back. I have heard nothing but good things about it. It has the ability to process more things that the stone mill can't do.

wlaut's picture
wlaut

Thank you for the insights!  Obviously I'm in my early "baby steps" stage, and once my GrainMaker shows up I can progress further.

Thank you for the tip about the sieve. I bought a #30 and #50 with no insight, other than some posts I read here about filtering out the bran.  Your suggestion of soaking it before adding back in is intriguing me, and perhaps explains what I especially saw with the HRW:  If I hydrate the flour with equal parts water, it will at first appear way over-htdrated, but given an hour it will nicely "soak up" all that water to produce a sticky dough.

I can't experiment with my sieves, because my pre-GrainMaker mill is my coffee grinder and so have no means of adjusting the coarseness to where I can trap the bran while letting the endosperm pass through. But once I can sift it, I intend to experiment with the bran as you and Dave have mentioned.

Your mention of spelt and rye is something that I want to explore, once I've gained some experience. A bread I want to master is Pumpernickel, but that will come in time.

Thanks again for your reply!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Your're obviously talking about home-milling, but in general, the  detailed answers about "winter vs spring" depend on whether you're talking about commercially refined white flour, or home-milled whole grain.

The exceptions to all of these generalizations is also the _variety_ of wheat.

Unless it has a name attached, to us home-millers, wheat described as "hard red winter" or "hard red spring" seems generic and uniform.  But... that is not always true.  Yes, there are few strains that are dominant, while being under one of those headings, but there are differences in the marketplace.

Focusing just on the refined endosperm, red spring wheat generally has higher protein than red winter wheat.  You can deduce this simply from the General Mills flour page.

To the home-miller who is using red wheat, and who is _not_ going to use much commercially refined flour, we (generally) want the higher protein of red spring in order to compensate for the "interference" that the bran creates.

And as MTloaf mentions, sometimes taste is preferred over crumb attributes.  Much depends on the baker's goals.

We can also overcome that bran-interference by using a little refined flour instead of 100% home-milled whole grain.  

And, if you use enough refined white flour to get your extra gluten, then the "extra" protein/gluten that spring has over winter, isn't needed.

As an example: if you are using near 100% home-milled whole grain, then you'll get a better crumb from red spring than red winter.  If... you are using only 50% home-milled whole grain, you're getting enough gluten from the refined white flour, and so much less bran, that milling red winter instead of red spring probably won't hurt.

I've milled Bronze Chief hard red spring, and two, maybe three varieties of hard red winter.  Bronze Chief seemed to have less bran or a thinner layer of bran, than the hard red winter varieties I tried.

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Once you get into it, you'll see and feel and taste the difference between a "named" (or patented) variety/strain and a generic variety/strain of the same major type, ie, hard red winter.

And if you change suppliers, or your supplier changes sources, you'll eventually stumble across different varieties/strains of  _generic_ wheat of the same major type, ie, hard red winter.

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Also, _procedures_ can sometimes compensate for diffences in flour: autolyse (pre-soak, no levain) the home-milled whole grain longer than any added white flour, or, as Maurizio at theperfectloaf.com sometimes does, and MTloaf mentioned above, sift out the bran, soak it separately/longer, then add it back in.  Also, slap-and-folds, or some  actual kneading (or kneading in a mixer) can help develop the gluten matrix better if there is less gluten or more bran in a flour.

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Remember that protein is not the only thing that determines a flour's performance.  Starch is different too, from variety to variety, and major type to major type.

Home-millers need to keep an eagle eye, and be ready to adjust hydration %, times, and handling, because fresh-milled flour changes quickly as it sits around.  Wheat berries are different year to year, and field to field.

Large Commercial millers test every batch, and use blending methods (of different wheat) to keep those huge batches consistent from batch  to batch and year to year, and regardless of which farms those berries come from.  

As an individual miller, you have to make adjustments for all those things that the commercial miller does behind the scenes.

--

Welcome to the home-milling club. It's a journey of discovery.

wlaut's picture
wlaut

Once again, your excellent reply has given me so much to chew on, that I don't know where to begin. Therefore, I will say Thank You! for taking the time to type it up.  Rest assured your insights you shared are not in vain.

Also, thank you for mentioning the higher protein content of HRS.  This dovetails with something I read in "Secrets of the Pizzeria," in which the author said to use a high-protein flour and which that graphic from the Wheat Producers said that HRS is used in "artisan" baking, such as pizza dough.  Does that sound reasonable to you?

Also, speaking of pizzas, how much sieving does home-milled flour require for use in pizza dough? Can I achieve it with my #30 and #50 sieves, or do you think I'll need another?  I realize it's all academic until I get my GrainMaker, but it can't hurt to prepare for it now.

Another silly question, if I may:  The "whole wheat" flavor I enjoyed from HRS, is that from the bran? And will it presumably disappear after I've sieved it?

Which variety of wheat would you recommend for making pizza dough?

Thank you again for your detailed reply.  I'm eagerly enjoying this journey!

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Is not as easy as seperating out the bran. Even though 70% of red wheat is basically white flour. A #50  sieve will get you close to 20% and a #40 will catch about 5% 

wlaut's picture
wlaut

Based on your reply, I started experimenting with my #50 but stopped until my GeainMaker arrives.  My suspicion is that the better use of a sieve is to sift the flour, and perhaps catch bits of berries that didn't grind down to size, for another pass through the mill.

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

"Also, speaking of pizzas, how much sieving does home-milled flour require for use in pizza dough? Can I achieve it with my #30 and #50 sieves, or do you think I'll need another? I realize it's all academic until I get my GrainMaker, but it can't hurt to prepare for it now. Another silly question, if I may: The "whole wheat" flavor I enjoyed from HRS, is that from the bran? And will it presumably disappear after I've sieved it? Which variety of wheat would you recommend for making pizza dough?"

It depends on what your definition of pizza dough is.

If you think of pizza dough as white flour, then I think your expectations of sifting are not realistic.  

Sifting home-milled flour cannot make anything near store-bought white AP flour or store-bought white bread flour.  It just can't and never will work that way. 

Sure, you can get _some_ of the bran out by sifting.  And if you stage it -- mill, sift, re-mill -- you can get a little more.  But each re-mill damages more starch and degrades the flour a bit.  (Which doesn't matter as much when making flatbread as opposed to loaf bread.)

what's the end result of sifting?  Well, it is noticeable, and you'll have to ask the sifters for their experience and opinion.  Or read their posts.  Dan Ayo documented a series of sifting/remilling.  

But from what I gather reading their posts, it will still have as much bran (though smaller particles only) as if you mixed home-milled flour and store-bought white flour at about 50/50 ratio.

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The high protein flour, such as All Trumps (which comes from hard red spring wheat) that is favored by some pizzerias, is commercial, refined, branless, white flour.  You just can't get anywhere near that with home-milling, no matter how much you sift.

Unless they advertise it as whole wheat, or partial whole wheat, US pizzeria (restaurant) pizza crust is virtually all refined white flour, .50 to .55 % ash, equivalent to having the same amount of bran removed as does retail AP or Bread flour.

Personally, I don't sift.  I tried a little with a #20 mesh, but that only took out "chunks", that my Vitamix blender left, not actual bran.

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That said, I think whole wheat, whether at 10% or 90% of the total flour, is just fine for pizza crust dough. But I'm in a minority on that.

 If you have kids, I have a feeling they will balk at any pizza crust that has over 10% whole wheat.  There will be no getting around using 90% store-bought white/refined flour, of whatever type, AP, Bread, whatever, unless you "cheat" a little.

Maybe you will like heavy, brown, chewy pizza crust. But kids.... probably not.

Also, pizza dough is not pizza dough is not pizza dough.

Cracker thin, Neapolitan, pan pizza, deep dish, Detroit, Sicilian, Chicago, all take pretty much different doughs.

Hence....  ___ There is no one "pizza flour".  ___   Some styles/restaurants use 100% high protein (such as All Trumps). Some use the 12.5% protein Italian 00 pizzeria flour. And some, like Reinhart's formulas, use mostly American AP flour at 10.5 to 11% protein, sometimes with a little American bread flour.

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There is a way to "cheat" or "sneak in" more home-milled whole grain in pizza dough, by using hard white wheat, durum wheat or Khorasan/Kamut wheat.  Durum and Khorasan/Kamut are _yellow_ wheat, and won't darken the dough as much as red wheat. Whole white wheat is detectable, but much lighter than red.

So... If you sift, or mill-sift-re-mil, durum, or Kamut or white wheat, then you could theoretically get well over 10% whole-grain before your kids squawk.

The common trick to introduce kids to whole wheat, home-milled or store bought whole wheat,  is start out in small percentages, slowly increasing the percent over time, reducing the percent of store-bought white flour.

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Bottom line:  As a beginner, limit your whole berry inventory.   Avoid hard red winter for a while.  Forget soft wheats. They just don't store long term very well.  (Update: They may still store long enough for your purposes... just not as long as hard wheat varieties.  So try them if you want to explore and experiment. They could be good for cookies, muffins, tortillas, biscuits.)

 Go with hard red spring, and hard white spring (or hard white winter, if hard white spring is not available.)

In third place, if you want to experiment/explore, I'd suggest durum.  Or Kamut if durum is not available. (There is a Khorasan wheat on the market that is not Kamut. Kamut is just a patented strain/cultivar of the generic Khorasan.)

After all that, In fourth place, if you feel the need to experiment further, then add in Hard Red Winter.

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_Personally_, I am just not a fan of hard red winter.  But that's because I make 90% WW bread.  But... when hard red winter is 50% or less of a loaf, and the rest is store-bought refined white flour, it's perfectly good.  The white flour makes up for it.  

But... unfortunately I have a 45 pound sealed bucket of hard red winter that I need to use up, because I bought it before I learned what my opinion of it was.  So... I'll likely give it away, or just use it as a partial mix, maybe 10% of the flour in a loaf, with the rest hard white spring and Kamut.

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So, try to buy samples in 10 or 25 pound bags first.  If you don't have to, you don't want to buy 50 bags and then discover that you don't like that type of wheat.  Not good to spend your budget, or use up your storage space, on kinds of wheat that your family won't eat.

Hope this helps, and not just confuse you further.  YMMV, and all that.

charbono's picture
charbono
wlaut's picture
wlaut

Article download and will read, likely this weekend.  Thanks!