The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Where to begin

amyt's picture

Where to begin

Hi all you wise bakers,

I've been baking for years and make all our bread, and now I'm ready for the next step of milling my own. I have a mill and wheat but am not quite sure where to start, as I read about bigas and starters and soaking the dough (I don't usually use starters except for sourdough). My plan had been to start replacing the store-bought flour with home-milled in my usual recipes. Once I've mastered milling and become more of a whole grain snob, I planned to get more into techniques. But am I getting the sense that it is necessary to use recipes and techniques specifically intended for newly-milled flour? If so, can you recommend some good beginner recipes or resources - are you all Peter Reinhart fans?

I know no one has time to detail for me how to make whole grain artisan bread, but I'm hoping you can point me in the direction of where I should start, as someone who's comfortable with baking/ breadmaking, somewhat new to starters, and knows nothing about milling!

Thanks all,


shakleford's picture

I've been milling my own flour for around 7 months now, and my experience is that no special techniques are required.  While you can do lots of fun stuff with soakers and bigas and whatnot, those techniques do not apply any more to home-ground flour than store-bought flour.

In fact, the only tip specific to home-milled flour that I can recall is that you should use flour within a few hours of milling.  I can't really comment on that one way or the other, although in practice I always mill right into the mixing bowl and use the flour right away.

Depending on your wheat berries, you may notice variations such as more/less water required, more/less high-rising loaves, etc, but this is much like what you might see when switching brands of store-bought flour.  At least initially, you'll probably want to make sure that your flour is very finely-ground, as this will likely behave the most like what you're used to.

proth5's picture

To the above I can add that I have done a lot of research and experimentation with aging high extraction flour.  Certainly the taste has more nuances from freshly milled flour, however aging is not required, nor is some aging problematic.  Scientific research indicates that it takes a month at room temperature for whole wheat flour to gain maximum gluten development.  This may be true, but after running an experiment, in my hands, the aging makes little difference.  If you are baking all of your bread a month of flour inventory can be quite an investment.

There is "legend" that says that home ground whole wheat flour should be used immediately or aged at least "a week" or some other arbitrary number.  I have seen no scientific or empirical studies to support this.

Some questions to consider are the style of flour you intend to mill, the type of wheat (or, indeed type of grain), and the limitations of your mill.

bwraith and I have posted extensive blogs on the subject.  He has gone pretty much all out on equipment while I have remained strictly small time.  Yet when sent to the lab, our flours are quite similar.

Milling is a journey.  When I have mastered it - well I'll let you know...

Have fun!

janij's picture


I am new to home milling as well.  Last weekend I made my first bread with fresh milled flour.  I made Hamelman's Multigrain.  All I did was replace the WW flour with fresh milled WW flour.  I used half white wheat and half red wheat.  It turned out really well.  I did have to add a little more water than normal.  I am going to do an experiment next on white vs red wheat.  A wonderful poster here did a write up on red vs white wheat and sent me the link when I asked about the same questions as you are last weekend.  Here is that link.

I would say try the fresh milled flour in a recipe you are very familiar with.  That way you will have an idea about how it behaves vs what you are used to.  I am no the journey as well and will let you know when I learn new things as well.  But there are some really knowledgeable bakers here and I am sure you will get more excellent advice.

beeman1's picture

I have gone over to home milled flour.It is a little more difficult as far as rise and crumb but the taste seems a lot better. I am using the country living mill.

charbono's picture



You will want a scale more than ever before.


Depending on your mill, you may not obtain flour as finely granulated as store-bought flour.  Coarser flour will absorb water more slowly; and the bread will not rise as high.


Depending on your mill, you may get more damaged starch than in your usual commercial flour.  Extra damaged starch will enable more amylase activity, which will release more water late in fermentation.



amyt's picture

Thank you all for your reassurances! I'm excited to make my first home-milled loaf tomorrow, and I will use a familiar recipe to start with.

Charbono - forgive my ignorance, but why am I going to want a scale? Do you mean to weigh the amount of flour I'll need? I don't usually measure the flour, but just keep adding until I get the consistency I like, but I suspect you are saying that the consistency will be different with home-milled. Please clarify.



charbono's picture



Based on the way you make dough, you probably don’t need a scale.


My comment on needing a scale was not based on the varying consistency of flour.  My comment was based on the tension between minimizing the number of milling events and maximizing flour freshness.

panamma1's picture

This seems like the right place for this question. I've had a Bosch collecting dust on my counter  and I really want to use it regularly to make all kinds of things. But I've been stressing because I don't know if I need to convert recipes to use it? Such as recipes that don't specify for a stand mixer or specify other kinds of mixers. They have a lot of made for the Bosch recipes at the store I bought it from and say that the motor is more powerful so mixing times will be different. I also grind flour  fresh sometimes. So here's a few questions:

the bosch recipe does not call for proofing the yeast first, but all the other recipes i see say this is important. the recipe I have says to just throw everything in and to add the fresh wheat flour first within the first couple of minutes and no later.

if I use half fresh ground wheat flour and half regular do i mix longer for the wheat flour or just what the recipe calls for? What if I don't use fresh flour at all? is the mixing time different?

If I make anything else besides bread do i have to reduce the mixing time ( cake mixes etc.. ) 

I'm bored with the bosch bread recipe and it's  fairly stressful anyway; having to add a dozen ingredients in a certain amount of time!  This is killing me!  It's just a mixer right? Not a special Bosh bread only miracle thing.. 




panamma1's picture

also, if I'm using the bosch do i still follow the rising times in the recipes?  It seems the bosch recipes don't call for much rising. My whole wheat bread recipe says about 30 min. after mixing and that's right in the pans... 



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, ps.

You do not need to change anything in a recipe just because you are mixing in a Bosch with one exception: Mixing times, when specified for stand mixers, are usually tested with a KitchenAid, simply due to market share.

Bosch vendors claim you don't need to mix as long with this machine. I have not found that to be true. As always, pay attention to the dough, not the clock.

Bottom line: Don't keep baking a bread you don't like any more. Branch out. Fear not.


100percentwholegrain's picture

Hi panamma1,

If you're interested in trying a recipe made just for home-milled whole wheat pastry, you can find a great one at this link: whole wheat bread.

It's a wonderful raspberry pastry with great whole wheat flavor, and no fussing, very simple.  It does use soft white spring wheat, which doesn't have as much protein as the hard white spring wheat (for sandwich-type breads).



alicial56's picture

What dose it mean to soak milled flour?

subfuscpersona's picture

Soaking flour generally applies to whole wheat flour but may be used with other whole grain flours. Simply put, some of the liquid (usually water) called for in the bread recipe is added to the whole wheat flour called for in that recipe. The wheat flour and liquid is allowed to sit (covered) at room temperature for several hours (or possibly overnight) until all (or most) of the liquid has been absorbed. This mixture of wheat flour and liquid is then used in the final dough, according to the recipe.

Sometimes the recipe may call for heating the water prior to adding it to the whole grain flour. The heated water is supposed to help the whole grain flour develop flavor. Peter Reinhart uses this technique in his book Whole Grain Breads.

You can use this technique even if your bread recipe does not explicitly call for it. If you do, remember two points...

> the liquid used to soak the flour is part of the final recipe. Don't make the dough with all of the liquid called for plus the liquid used to soak the flour. Rather, weigh (or measure) all of the liquid called for in the recipe and use some of it to soak the flour.

> You don't want the whole wheat flour + liquid mixture to ferment, which may happen if it is left at a high temperature (mid 80s F or higher) for a long time (8 hours or more). To prevent this, you can add a small amount of salt to the mixture OR refrigerate it after a few hours. If you used salt, remember to reduce the total amount of salt called for in the final recipe by the amount of salt you used in the soaker.