The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% Home Milled Turkey Red Dough Breaks Down

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

100% Home Milled Turkey Red Dough Breaks Down


First time poster, verrrrry long time lurker here! 

I've been trying to make a 100% whole wheat loaf using Turkey wheat berries that I mill at home using a KoMo mill. For the first few attempts, I used the Whole Wheat Mash Bread in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. (I made the version that subbed buttermilk for sourdough.) The dough literally liquefied in the mixer.  After a few epic failures, I stepped back from that endeavor and went back to making sourdoughs and ciabattas for a year or two. Recently, I saw a formula for a 100% WW bread at Serious Eats. The recipe's author claims the keys to success are an extended autolyse and kneading the dough with a food processor, which I had never done before. Again, I wanted to use fresh milled Turkey (love the flavor!). In any event, this dough also turned very runny in the food processor. I experimented with a decreasing the hydration, a shorter autolyse and with adding salt to the autolyse to slow down enzymatic activity. Adding salt seemed to help for a while as the dough survived the mix intact, but then the dough broke down during bulk (see photo).

In each case, I followed through with the bake and ended up with a very tasty but structurally weak loaf of bread. When I say it was structurally weak, I mean some of the bread would fall out of the slices or sandwich fillings would leak through. The most recent time (when I added salt to the autolyse), there was a giant hole smack in the middle of the loaf. I don't think this would be the result of a shaping error because the dough was more like a batter.

I'm wondering if anyone else has tried using home milled Turkey in a 100% whole wheat loaf and what your experiences have been. Is turkey less absorbent than modern hybrids? I'd like to make the bread using commercial WW for comparison, but I haven't been able to find any during the current flour shortage. I've used the fresh milled Turkey successfully in blends with AP flour so, in my experience, this problem seems limited to 100% WW. I would really welcome your thoughts and thank you so much for all the help you've already given me over the years.

100% Turkey-88% Hydration

Somaek's picture

I just made 2 loaves with 100% home milled turkey red.  Did one with about 78% hydration and the other with 90%.  The 90 was a little loose but that's to be expected I think.  The 78 was pretty easy to shape and had a little better rise.  Both had fairly closed crumb, but not too dense.  Amazing flavor!

What was your hydration?

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Thank you so much for your reply! The water is added in two stages for a total hydration of 88%. I'm heartened by the fact that you had good structure at 90%, but wondering even more why I'm having such a hard time. Did you do an autolyse?

Somaek's picture

I'm not sure I'd say it had good structure at 90.  I had to do coil folds to build structure instead of the stretch and folds I normally do.  It also had a super fast bulk fermentation compared to what I'm used to with commercially milled flour.  But I was able to shape it though it was more difficult than 75% or 80% hydration.  I did a roughly 5 hour autolyse (same time as for my separate ferment).

I too feel like I've got a lot to learn about 100% ww.  But we'll keep going!

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Interesting. When I bake this weekend, I'll do coil folds assuming the dough holds together well enough to accomplish them. I think I'll lower the overall hydration by about 5% to help accommodate that. I'll report back afterwards.

Since no one else has had this much difficulty with Turkey Red, I almost wonder if my berries were from a bad crop... except that this has happened with two different formulas and berries from different crops. Thank you again for your time and insight. Much appreciated!

ifs201's picture

I'm most curious about the use of the metal blade in the food processor. I don't really understand how 75 seconds in a good processor could yield good gluten development. Did the dough pass the window pane test after that?

colinm's picture

I’ve been experimenting with the food processor recently, though for much lower proportions of WW. I just run it until the dough comes together and clears the bowl, about 20 seconds. Then I tip it out and do the regular stretch and folds over the usual bulk fermentation. With such a short processing time I am pretty sure that I don’t overwork or overheat the dough even though it is better mixed than I usually achieve by hand. I use the metal blade for mixing.

I have found that the dough is a sticky mess in the processor for hydration above about 70%, so for higher hydration I mix at 70% and then add the remaining water with a few extra stretch and folds at the beginning of bulk.

This works well for me and the dough is smooth and free of the little lumps which always took me a long time to work out by hand kneading. 

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Thank you so much for sharing your method. I don't want to give up on the bread, so the next time I make it, I will experiment with a shorter mix in the food processor and add a series of stretch and folds during which I will incorporate the second addition of water. I might take the overall hydration down a few percentage points, too.

FWIW, I've used up to 70% turkey blended with AP and never had this problem. However, this is not the only recipe where I've had the dough break down during mixing. The other one was also a 100% whole wheat bread. It was made with a mash and it too had superior flavor. But it completely liquefied in my stand mixer. That was a couple years ago. I'm starting to get a complex about 100% whole wheat. 

Thanks again for your insights!

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Thank you ifs201. I usually mix dough by hand or sometimes in an Ankarsrum mixer. This recipe was my first experience mixing bread dough in a food processor so I don't know how long it might usually take. After the first 75 seconds, you drizzle in water and oil then process it again, so the overall mix is longer than 75 seconds, but is probably 2 minutes or less.

The first time I made this bread, I processed it for the full time and the dough basically turned to into a loose batter. It was so runny I didn't even check for windowpane. It wasn't a brick, but it was fairly dense. But the taste was so good, I really wanted to try again. 

The second time I made it, I shortened the autolyse to 1 hour and turned off the motor on the food processor as soon as I noticed the dough loosening. I also skipped the second addition of water, so the overall hydration in that loaf was about 75%. This dough was very loose but better than the first. It rose well but didn't fell well-structured. It did not collapse in the oven as I expected, but when sliced, "tufts" of bread would fall out and leave holes in the slices.

For the batch I made yesterday, I added all the salt during the autolyse and did the autolyse for the full 2½ hours. I did everything else as stipulated in the recipe. The dough did achieve windowpane, but not a great one; it didn't hold for more than a second or two, but the dough had some strength and I thought the problem was solved. Unfortunately, the dough broke down during bulk. This loaf also had a weak structure and by the time I had cut off 4 or 5 slices, there was a tunnel about as wide as a golf ball and as long as my finger right in the middle of the loaf. That has never happened to me before in 25 years of bread baking!

At this point, I'm not sure what to think, but I do appreciate your taking the time to think about this problem and respond.

idaveindy's picture

AG, Welcome to TFL!

I mill at home, and I find that home milled flour is a different animal from store-bought WW. It just behaves a lot differently, likely due to larger particle size, and the freshness, and stonger enzyme activity.

I followed the link to the recipe, and saw that it calls for using the food proc _after_ the autolyse. There's the mistake, IMO.  I think that is bad for home milled flour. What I think is happening is that your 2 minutes in the food proc is shredding the gluten that  started to develop in the autolyse.  

It can be tricky to develop good gluten from home milled flour, especially if the grind is not as fine as commercial flour.  Once autolysed, you have to be gentle with it. Stretch and folds, and coil and folds, are ok. But the food proc is just cutting up all the good work done in the autolyse.

Try the food proc just to mix the flour, salt and water.  then autolyse.  Then gently  fold in (by hand) more water that has the yeast dissolved in it.

Also, because home-milled flour ferments faster than store-bought WW, eliminate the sugar, or reduce by half.

In my opinion, that recipe's 2.5 hr autolyse is too long for fresh-milled flour.  The extra/fresher enzymes of fresh-milled are going to work already, breaking down starch to sugar faster than store-bought.  My rule of thumb is 60 minutes without salt, or 90 minutes with salt.  

Fresh milled flour has more natural oil than than commercial Ww flour, because it has not evaporated off sitting around the warehouse and store shelf.  So try it without added oil.

Home-milled flour takes longer to hydrate than commercial WW due to the larger particle size.  Mine goes through 3 stages: 

1) it seems overly wet, like wet sand,  because the water has not been absorbed yet, so the water is in between the large particles, and it just pulls apart, grainy.

2) after the water is first absorbed, it feels stiff, rather elastic, almost like Silly Putty, resists stretching, and tears if you try to stretch or knead it. At this point, just wait!

3) the hydrated particles eventually relax, it  becomes "extensible" and you can now do stretch and folds.

I use sourdough levain, not commercial yeast, so my timing won't exactly match yours. But if it takes more than an hour to go from stage 2 to 3, gently fold in more water to make it extensible.

It takes longer to hydrate, but I said to use a shorter autolyse. Why?  Because the yeast fermentation needs to be timed to match up. Autolyse time makes sugar out of the starch.  So some of the hydration/relaxing is still going on after yeast is added.

So that's the tricky part: at stage 1 you think you used too much water, at stage 2 it looks like you didn't use enough because  it's too tight, and then at stage 3 it all works out.

 but of course you have to experiment a few times to find out the proper  hydration level for your particular home milled flour.

Also, you may be overfermenting your home-milled dough if you follow a recipe for store-bought flour.  Fresh milled flour generally ferments faster than commercial WW. So try cutting back on yeast and/or shorter bulk ferment and final proof times.

Bottom line: In the linked formula, practically everything in it either needs adjusted or eliminated when using fresh milled flour. And I think  that food proc is just destroying your gluten.

I've seen strands of well-developed and "webbed" gluten before, but I've never seen the spaghetti-like strings in your photo. Gluten strands should be 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional webs.  Those look too 1-dimensional -- and I don't know what to make of it.

My guess is that finely ground and "aged" commercial WW regrows / re-assembles the gluten after being  chopped up in the food proc.   But the coarse and craggy particles of the young "green" fresh-milled isn't up to that extra task.

Hope this helps.

Also see my write up at:

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

This helps tremendously - and I know it took a good deal of time for you to collect these thoughts and type them up. Thank you ever so much! I've devoted a lot of thought to the behavior of the dough and have considered, in various degrees, many of the points you raised... but I tended to focus too much on one possible cause at a time so that I could do test bakes around each one. As for your information on the 3 stages of hydration - well, suffice to say I never would have gotten there on my own! I haven't been able to find much in the way of detailed information like this for the home miller.

I'll take everyone's thoughts to heart and develop a new formula and process, do some test bakes and report back. You have all been very generous with your time and expertise and I am genuinely grateful :-)

idaveindy's picture

please keep in mind that all my observations and  opinions are based on my grain (Prairie Gold hard white spring, generic hard red winter wheat, generic hard red spring wheat, some Kamut) and my milling methods (Vitamix blender).  

And, I try to develop gluten via stretch-and-folds and time, not via kneading.

So.... while I hope to get you "pointed in the right direction", I also expect you'll discover it still isn't going to exactly match your circumstances, and need further refinements.


The good folks at TFL taught me to keep track of things down to the gram. And that was necessary to work out the hydration, because it was not until stage 3, and into the stretch and folds that I knew whether my hydration was good. Then, the next batch of grain might be different!


One more thought.  Your mention of TR being an "heirloom" grain reminded me that it is genetically different from more modern hybridized wheat.   TR came from previous strains of wheat too, but our "big agra" wheat is even younger and further modified.  AFAIK, no extant wheat is GMO, except confined to labs (and maybe test fields).  But...other than the heirloom varieties, all modern wheat is modern hybrids. (hybrid means a "crossing" of strains, not gene editing.)   well, "heirloom" just means that the genetics haven't changed in XX years.

Good luck, and bon appétit!

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

I wanted to follow up and let you know how today’s test bake went. As you can tell from the headline, I’m very happy with the results. I did my best to adapt the formula and process per your suggestions to work with the freshly milled Turkey wheat:

First, the grain was milled at the finest setting and sifted through a #50 mesh screen. The “bran” (in quotation marks because I’m sure it wasn’t *only* bran) was soaked for about 1:15. Meanwhile, I used the food processor to mix the flour and water for the autolyse. I allowed it to hydrate for only 30 minutes before gently folding and kneading in the salt and soaked bran. After a 30-minute rest, I gently folded and kneaded in the brown sugar and yeast, both at 50% of the original values. Oil was eliminated entirely. The dough had good extensibility at this point, so I proceeded with four coil folds at 20-minute intervals. The bulk phase was about 1:50 total. Shaping was easy because I was working with a lovely dough instead of batter. Go figure, haha! The proof only took about 40 minutes and the bread baked up nice and strong.  

I’ll do some tinkering over the next few bakes to really dial it in. The full amount of brown sugar added a nice complexity to the flavor that I liked, so I will increase the amount by 5g or 10g per bake until I hit the tipping point. The bran bits were a little sharp, so I will soak them longer next time. The biggest difference is that this loaf seemed a bit dry compared to the previous loaves, but I can bump up the water. Aside from these small and fixable details, I am delighted with the way this turned out. More importantly, I learned a lot thanks to everyone's generosity. 

I can’t thank you all enough for your guidance which was, as I knew it would be, spot on!