7 things about fresh-milled flour
In my experience, Fresh-Milled flour has 7 "things" I need to allow for:
This is based on using a sourdough starter/levain. Commercial yeast (dry or fresh) will be slightly different.
1. Fresh-milled flour is usually thirstier, takes more water, than store-bought WW. This is a general rule. You will eventually find exceptions, i.e., some grain will already be high in moisture, and therefore need less water.
2. Fresh-milled flour takes more time to soften, so use 30-90 minutes of soak/autolyse (without starter/levain, depending on granularity (particle size).
Sidenote: because of 1 and 2, if I make a combo fresh-milled WW and white flour loaf, I autolyse only the fresh-milled WW because the white flour would "steal" the water first. So in that case, I add the white flour (and some water) when I combine in the levain. I'm sure there are other ways to do it.
3. Fresh-milled flour is Tricky, in that you think you over-wetted it, but then it absorbs and it feels underhydrated, but then it eventually slackens. So after you learn by trial and error (keep meticulous records of weights) and "dial it in", then you have to trust it to end up at the right spot of hydration. You sort of have to learn three or four different "feels", one at each stage, (depending if you add salt in a separate stage -- salt tightens dough, temporarily.)
3a. "Wet sand" feel. Home-milled flour can sometimes be gritty, especially extra hard wheat such as durum and Kamut/Khorasan. I need at least a 1 hour autolyse (no starter/levain) for these. And even then, the transformation from "wet sand" to dough doesn't happen, for me at least, until 30-60 minutes after incorporating the levain.
My procedure is usually: 1 hour autolyse, gently incorporate levain (no kneading, just gentle folds), let it rest 30 min, incorporate salt and hold-back water, let rest 30 minutes for it to slacken becasue salt tightens it up, then do stretch and folds.
3b. Important: Do not knead or do "stretch and folds" until the "wet sand" becomes "dough" and the dough is extensible enough. If the dough never slackens/loosens or becomes extensible ("stretch-able") enough say, 45 minutes, after adding salt (or after adding levain, if salt was already in it), then it likely needs more water.
4. Fresh-milled ferments FAST! I use 3.5% prefermented flour for an overnight bulk ferment, or an overnight proof. Fresh-milled, like most store-bought WW, maybe even more than store-bought WW, keeps on fermenting in the fridge, more so than white flour does in the fridge. The fridge won't "stop" WW from fermenting/aging/breaking down.
5. Fresh-milled flour has oil from the bran and germ Store-bought WW has had some oil evaporated off, and might not even have had the germ in it, depends on brand. So I use little to no oil compared to store-bought WW.
6. If I over-hydrate a dough, and feel like I need to add flour to adjust, I add _white flour_ because it will absorb water quicker than fresh milled WW. The late addition of WW and especially fresh-milled WW won't get as hydrated/soaked as well as what was in there from the beginning. In other words, to "salvage" an over-wet dough at some point in the bulk ferment, I use white store-bought flour.
7. Good oven spring on a boule or batard (ie, not a pan-loaf, like sandwich bread) generally requires under-fermenting. Do not let it rise (first or second rise) as much as you do with a loaf baked in a pan. First rise (usually called bulk ferment) can be 30-50% increase. 2nd rise (usually called final proof) even less, depends on if you do it at room temp or in fridge.
Your mileage may vary.
Avoiding/removing bugs: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/64081/tip-bugs-whole-grains
Sifting and multiple passes through your mill: www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62237/bolting-sifting-comparison-1-pass-vs-5-passes
Easy sandwich loaf formulas: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62486/community-bake-approachable-loaf-bread-lab
Testing/comparing different varieties of home-milled wheat (just the comment, not the whole thread/post): http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56742/community-bake-maurizios-fiftyfifty-whole-wheat-sourdough-everyone-welcome#comment-412372
The home-millers you would do good to follow on here are: SheGar, SeasideJess, danni3ll3, ifs201, barryvabeach, DanAyo, MTloaf, dabrownman, pmccool, deblacksmith, UpsideDan, TopBun, albacore, .. with apologies to any others I missed.
Notable comments. See more below, in the comment section:
2. [...] I like to use around 15% bread flour for more consistent results. Extra kneading will make the loaf lighter.
3. Sifting is worth the effort. Even if you are going to bake with all the brown bits because it oxygenates the flour and allows it to absorb the water better. Separating them with a #40 will collect about 5>7% and a #50 will get around 15%. The bran can be presoaked, used in a levin, toasted or used for other things. My chickens love a bran dough ball.
4. My personal preference with whole wheat is to error on the side of over hydrate because the bran will absorb moisture even after it has baked. The Approachable Loaf from the recent Community Bake here at TFL (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62486/community-bake-approachable-loaf-bread-lab) is 85 to 90% water and produces a Wonder Bread soft sandwich loaf. Say no to the brick.
5. Other grains like rye, spelt, white whole wheat, kamut are nice to have on hand. [...]