The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to milling, what is the flour I mill, whole wheat?

WSC_SF's picture

New to milling, what is the flour I mill, whole wheat?

Hello all,

I finally got my own milling machine. It is so exciting.

I got some Red Fife wheat berries to start with.... but now I wonder... what am I milling exactly?

I understand that if I mill Rye, Einkorn, oat... I get the flour of those grains. That is quite clear.

But what about the Red/White Winter/Spring wheat berries? What do I get exactly? Are they considered whole wheat flour? ( " whole wheat" -- the entire wheat berries, it makes sense. Sorry if this question seems stupid)

Can this flour 100% substitute the bread flour I usually use? or with the wholeness of the grain, the gluten development would be interfered?

What is store bought bread flour? are they from these  winter/spring red/ white hard soft wheat berries with some filtering process to optimize gluten development? I read that most bakers prefer to mix store bought bread/ AP flour + milled flour. Is it because the milled flour alone will not give the maximal gluten development? 

If you have any tip for milling newbie, do share!

Thank you for helping

barryvabeach's picture

The only stupid question is the one you don't ask.

There are a few "standard" whole wheat flours.  Red Spring is pretty close to what you would consider traditional whole wheat, though when it is bought commercially, my understanding is that they remove some of the things that would make it turn rancid .  

Winter White or Spring White, is whole wheat as well, but the genes have been altered which impacts the color, and makes it tastes less grassy or "wheaty".

Store bought bread flour is a hard wheat - like red spring, that is run through a roller mill, and much of the bran is extracted.  You can't make the same using  your mill, though you can extract some of the bran using sieves, and you will see notes here about extraction - if you sift out 20% of the weight , you have an 80% extraction.

As a new miller,  first, try to find recipes that are designed for whole wheat.  Whole wheat typically absorbs more moisture than BF or AP, so if you use a recipe designed for BF or AP,  you loaf will need more water than called for - how much varies.   Also,  whole wheat ferments faster than AP or BF,  so if the recipe says to let it bulk ferment for 3 hours, and you substitute whole wheat ,it will be over proofed by then,  though you should always watch the dough, not the clock.   If you do want to use an AP or BF recipe, then start by making it as written, then the next time, substitute 20% whole wheat, and keep track of how much water you have to add to get a similar feel , and then repeat increasing the whole wheat percentage a little at a time.

While it is true that you won't get the same height or volume with 100% whole wheat, the flavor, IMO,  is so much better,  I don't care about that.

As for tips, search here, there are many home millers, and you will find plenty of info.  I think the first tip is to autolyse for at least an hour .  I find it is easier to get good gluten development fairly quickly after a long autolyse.

Other than that,  if you decide to go 100% home milled, which is what I do, try not to get too blown away by the airy open crumb in the photos you see using AP or BF, and instead focus on the flavor - which to me is the important thing.


DanAyo's picture

Click THIS LINK. It will provide lots of various post concerning milling grain. Barry gave you excellent advice, he is an experienced home miller that speaks from experience.


bigcrusty's picture


If you mill your Red Fife you'll have whole wheat.  Store Bought Bread flour is white, high protein, high gluten sifted from wheat grain and sometimes bromated and chlorinated t achieve a greater whiteness.  I mill White, Red and Red Fife grains for my whole wheat flour along with Rye, Spelt Einkorn  and Emmer.  I tried for a while to sift my whole wheat to First Clear flour for making Sour Rye but it was way too time consuming .  I use Dakota Mills Bread Flour which is not bromated or chlorinated.  It can sometimes be found at Walmart but lately they seem to have not stocked it.  They have a website so you may be able to find where it is distributed near you.  I'm in Wisconsin so I have access at a local Woodman's Supermarket here which carries it regularly. Your whole wheat doesn't have the gluten that white has so it won't rise the way white store bought Bread flour will.  I always mix mine.   Best of luck with your new mill.     


Big Crusty