The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

help with freshly milled flour and gluten tearing

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

help with freshly milled flour and gluten tearing

Hi I am wondering about anyone's experience with freshly milled flour. I bought some freshly milled but don't know its exact age. I am finding my dough tears very easily while kneading and rising. I did add some vit C crystals. Anyone using freshly milled flour have any tips? I am considering buying my own mill but want to work out the bugs first. I am making a 100% whole wheat soudough loaf. I have never made 100% wh. wh. sourdough before and maybe it is not the flour just the fact that it is 100% wh. wh. Any feedback would be appreciated. bakerincanada

shakleford's picture
shakleford

This may be of limited help, but I have not experienced anything like what you describe and I use 100% freshly-milled grains in almost all of my breads.  I find my home-milled wheat to behave pretty much the same as any reasonably high-quality store-bought whole wheat flour.

Is it possible that the flour you bought has a low gluten content?

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

bakerincanada

Hi thanks for your reply.  No it is organic whole wheat bread flour stone ground.  I just took my second loaf out of the oven.  This time with good oven spring but I did not slash as the top had already torn when proving the loaves.  When you use your home milled do you use it right away or do you leave it to sit for a few weeks as I have read some people do?  Do you use any diastatic malt powder or vit c as dough enhancers?  Just curious. Thanks bakerincanada

proth5's picture
proth5

I did some experimentation (and much research..) on this a while back on my own home ground flour.

In theory, you should age the flour at least 2 months at room temperature to get the effects of aging without running the risk of rancidity.

In practice, fresh ground and aged flour were pretty much the same - for my loaves and my hands - with fresh tasting somewhat better.

I have not found a need to use vitamin C. 

Diastatic malt could be used if you desired to correct the Falling Number (a measure of convesion of starches to sugars) which is usually very high (meaning the conversion of starches to sugars is slow) in whole wheat flours.  I have experimented with this and found that with my home equipment and techniques the addition of malt made little impact.

Hope this is helpfull.

shakleford's picture
shakleford

While I haven't done nearly the experimentation proth has, I have found no need to age my flour or to use vitamin C or any other dough enhancers.

Is it possible that the problem could lie in your recipe, or is it one that you've successfully used with 100% whole wheat flour in the past?

holds99's picture
holds99

It's hard to tell without knowing which recipe you're using.  Have you had success with this recipe before?  If you're using quality flour, it shouldn't be the flour that's causing the problem.  I think I read that the "aging time" for newly milled flour is about 2 weeks.  From your description it sounds like your dough isn't wet enough.  Low hydration can cause the symtoms you describe (tearing during kneading) and also results in poor rise and poor ovenspring.  Did you do a windowpane test?  If you do a windowpane test and your dough tears it's not wet enough.  Almost without exception---Wetter is better.

One final thought...use a scale.  Measure your ingredients precisely and don't fall into the trap of adding more flour during mixing because the dough feels too wet, sticky or tacky.  To get good rise and nice crumb requires a well hydrated dough that has been developed and handled properly during mixing and bulk fermentation.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Loaves2WheatOrganic's picture
Loaves2WheatOrganic

I don't know what recipe you are using-if you are using a recipe for store-bought flour, the moisture-to-dry ingredient ratio is way off, thus the dough is tearing (Not enough moisture, gluten, etc).  You will notice a dryness in the taste of the bread, and the crust will be too dry, as well. 

When using fresh-milled flour, it is easier than using store-bought.  The amount of wheat that you mill is always the same, no matter the weather, or time of year.  When I converted from organic flour to buying a Nutrimill and milling it fresh myself, I discovered that baking with fresh-milled was a LOT easier.  Once I perfect a recipe, it is the same every time.  No more using more or less flour at a given time of year, or accounting for humidity, or adding more at the last minute!  I love it, and the taste is richer, moister, deeper.  You have all of the germ and bran, thus added moisture and flavor, and of course, MUCH more mineral content! 

I would suggest that if the gluten is tearing, you need a new recipe that doesn't mix as long, perhaps, and some added VWG (Vital Wheat Gluten, or Gluten Flour) which basically adds "elastic threads" to the bread.  Also, you need a good mixer to mix the dough, and develop the gluten properly.  I would suggest a Bosch, or Electrolux Assistant (I have this one-and I love it!) I would add that once you figure out how to develop the gluten properly, you can move on to a wonderful sourdough bread recipe from there!

Hope this helps,

Melina ;)

holds99's picture
holds99

FWIW.  If you're using coursely milled whole wheat flour, that has the bran in it, the bran can tear the gluten strands, inhibiting gluten development, when it's mixed for an extended period, especially in a mixer.  This could also cause a problem.  My experience is that this type flour also absorbs more moisture than finely milled flour, leaving it dryer and more prone to tearing.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

It's not the flour!

 Thanks so much for everyone's input.  I started another loaf today only I used my  store bought flour and have had similar tearing as described above.  I am using a sourdough starter refreshed 3 days ago with some yeast in the final dough. (It is a take off from Peter Reinharts's wh. wh. bread in his whole grains book.).  So thanks to everyone's feedback I decided the problem was my gluten development.  I already had one strike against me (I think )as the sourdough starter  had been refreshed 3 days ago.  So after I mixed the starter and other ingredients  I left th the dough for 20 minutes.  I used Dan Lepard's approach to kneading.  My dough was tearing.  After one minute of kneading every 10 minutes x 3 I wasn't happy with the gluten development so I used the French fold and slapped the dough on the counter not for too long and low and behold the gluten became stronger, it would stretch further and it became a nice soft supple dough.  It has been bulk fermenting in the fridge.  I have taken it out and will give it a few stretch and folds and then form a loaf.  I will bake it tomorrow.  So I am happy to know that it is not my freshly milled flour.  I can taste the difference over store bought it has more depth.  I will probably go ahead when this flour is used up  and order my grain mill.  Thanks everyone for taking the time to give feedback; it truly is a wonderful site. I have become such a better bread baker taking into account everyone's ideas.

bakerincanada

prairiepatch's picture
prairiepatch

Hello Baker in Canada,

I am also a baker in Canada but anyway how did your bread turn out in the end?  You seemed pretty happy about it before baking.  Were you just as happy when it came out of the oven?

I know the issue has been resolved but I was hoping to make a small comment.  When we bake with freshly milled whole wheat we have all the components of the grain intact, which of course includs all the bran,  The bran is very sharp and will cut and damage the gluten.  That is why whole wheat breads are often very heavy.  So even though the flour may have enough gluten in it, it is often necessary to make up for the damage caused by the bran.  That is why adding a little more gluten is necessary or a dough enhancer that contains vitamen c which helps to heal the gluten or a combination of both (which is what I do.)  But maybe everybody knows this already.

Anyway like I said I am curious as to how your bread turned out in the end?  Happy baking.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

HI


 I grow and grind my own grains and take it right from our stone mill to the kitchen. I have never had a problem with tearing and it makes great tender bread. I think that it may have to do with the quality of the wheat. I use a high quality high protein wheat.