The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

HELP! New @ grinding my own wheat

bobbie's picture

HELP! New @ grinding my own wheat

I just bought a grain grinder and I bought Wheat Montana white hard spring wheat.  I ground some of it and it mixes way different.  When I use my recipe that I had been using it takes about 1 and a half cups more flour as it is really wet and sticky.  Is it normal for it to do this?  I ground it on the finest setting.  I have read that mixing too much flour in will make it heavy which is what happened with the first batch.  Is there something I am missing with this grinding process?  I have even tried mixing it with the regular amount of flour and then letting it sit for 45 minutes before I kneaded it.  I had read that the whole grains will soak up the moisture but that didn't seem to make a difference, I still had to knead in about a cup and a half of flour.  Any thoughts that you have are greatly appreciated.

serene's picture

I read somewhere (and it seems to be true) that since store-bought flour sits around and dries out on the shelf, home-ground flour is moister, so you need to use less liquid or more flour, and that seems to be the case for me.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

A number of industry studies show that the triple paper bag in common use to transport and sell flour holds the moisture in the flour very effectively.  There is typically less than a 1% change in the moisture in storage.


Moreover, if you look at the amount of water in the flour and the amount of water in the recipe, the changes - even at the extremes of the range - just don't make that much difference.


If you don't bake often and you don't close your flour sack, you are apt to see differences.  But they are not as extreme as the cup to cup variations you'll see in normal measuring practice.




OldDoughNut's picture

Perhaps another issue is that freshly milled flour is "fluffier" than store-bought flour which has settled and is more compact.  There's a lot more air incorporated into the freshly milled flour.  Sharing your frustration (especially with cookies!), I moved to weighing my wheat before milling (I use 150g per 1 cup as a general rule, but others use 120g/cup).  Then, as you said, it does absorb the moisture differently so I let it set for a while before deciding if it needs more flour (or liquid). 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The flour mills who sell flour in grocery stores and to bakeries and such adjust the moisture in the grain before it is milled.  Some grain is drier than others, some is wetter.  They adjust the moistuer so it is easier to process the grain, and to produce a more consistent product.


The people who sell whole grain don't adjust the moisture levels, and most people don't to anything to keep the grain at a certain moisture level, or keep it at the level at which the grain is received.  Working with raw natural ingredients makes it a lot harder to be consistent.  This ignores the differences between batches and seasons.  If you're buying pounds of bulk grain from your grocery store, health food store or coop, you have no way to know if it's from the same source as the last batch.  Or if the staffer who fills the bins understands that there IS a difference between hard and soft, red and white wheat.  It's a crap shoot.


If course, if you are measuring by volume, things become very unpredictable.  It's a discussion that's been had here and elsewhere repeatedly.  It usually gets ugly.  Instead of going over that ground again, just search here and in google.  In the end, the goal of a baker is to learn to know of a dough is right by feeling it.  Measuring it, however that is done, is just the way we get to good dough more consistently and more quickly than if we just wing it.  My experience is that students grow up to be bakers more quickly if they weigh their ingredients.

In general, whole grain absorbs more moisture than refined flours, howeverit does so more slowly.  And freshly ground grains are, for many reasons, less predictable than commercially ground flours.  When someone new to whole grains starts baking with them, we often see them freak out because the dough is to wet.  They add flour.  And then the flour absorbs the moisture.  OH NO!  Now it's too dry!  So, they add too much water.  After a few cycles, the amount of flour and water is far in excess of what is appropriate for the amount of salt, riser and other ingredients used.


Predictors of success:

Patience.  Weigh your ingredients.  Knead for 5 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.  Then knead the dough again for 5 more minutes.  During the rest, a lot happens to calm the dough.


Good luck,



bobbie's picture

Thanks all for your comments.  I appreciate the input.  I will consider buying a scale. One of my considerations is that I live in a motorhome and room is at a premium!  Thanks again!

flourgirl51's picture


 For one thing when you grind your own flour you are getting the total 100% grain. The bran in this flour will absorb more moisture but it does it more gradually than store bought flour. I would mix it in a little at a time and then let it rest a few minutes to absorb the liquid and then see if you need more flour. Always use a bit less flour until you get the texture that you want because once the flour is in the mix you can't take it out!

xaipete's picture

I grind my own flour and have had no difficulty with this recipe from WGB. I have four comments. 1) Are you weighing everything? 2) Are you kneading enough to properly develop the gluten (does it pass the windowpane test?)? I use a 4.5 qt. Kitchenaid mixer and I usually have to knead significantly longer than specified in the recipe and make several readjustments of the dough during kneading in order for it to sit correctly on the dough hook. 3) I bake in 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch pans. The dough is usually ready to bake when it is doming the pan by about an inch. 4) I bake whole wheat breads until they register about 205 degrees F. in the center (also make sure you let it cool for at least an hour before cutting into it so it can complete its cooking).

100percentwholegrain's picture

Hi Bobbie,

Hope you haven't given up on grinding your own flour :)  I've found that I use more flour when I'm grinding my own than when using store bought - thought it was probably because it was so much less compacted.  Anyway, I've found a great recipe for raspberry pastry with measurements for fresh ground whole wheat flour.  I've made it lots of times and it comes out great.  It uses soft white wheat, though, so it may taste a bit different than with hard white.

The recipe is here: whole wheat bread

Good Luck!