The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French bread and pie crusts

amyt's picture

French bread and pie crusts

WOW! Made my first hand-milled loaf... and my arm'd tired but we are HOOKED on the taste!!!

Well, always looking for a challenge, I'm now wondering if I dare work hand-milled into the family THanksgiving I'm hosting (I know, nothing like last minute planning). I'll be doing French bread with the appetizer, which I usually make with KA all-purpose flour... anyone made French bread with hand-milled? Should I use hard white wheat? Would it make more sense to mix hand-milled with store-bought?

And I'd like to try at least one of the pie crusts with hand-milled - I assume I need soft wheat for that? Any special challenges I should look out for?

Any tips appreciated!


proth5's picture

You do not need to use soft wheat for piecrust, you should be able to use a hard white or red wheat. Piecrust should be handled gently after adding water so as to minimally develop the gluten. I am not a fan of whole wheat piecrust, but back in my "hippie" days I made them for some reason...

When you say "French bread" do you mean baguettes? Again, anything you can make with commercial flour you can make with hand milled. I don't know your milling setup, but if you are making a bread where you traditionally use white flour you may want to ease into the process by trying a blend (say 10% home milled - the rest commercial) or sifting your flour a bit more to get an "almost white" flour. A 100% whole wheat baguette is going to be quite different than a white flour baguette and this may not work well in your presentation. I make a 100% hand milled 80% extraction lean loaf at 75% hydration on a regular basis. I don't give it a baguette shaping, but it handles well, has nice oven spring and could very well be shaped as a baguette. I don't think it would have the lovely crumb of my white flour baguette, but it would be tasty and acceptable...

Hope this helps.

Happy Baking!

charbono's picture


The best pie crust I've ever had was made with home-milled soft white wheat.

What mill do you have?


tadmitchell's picture

I'm a bit off the deep end on using whole wheat, but I've given up on using whole wheat for pie crusts and cookies. It's not worth it. It's too dry and sandy.

The same is true with French bread. It's just not French bread anymore when you use 100% whole wheat. It will be hard and heavy. The fact that the flour is freshly ground and not aged makes things even worse. You'd have more success with KA whole wheat flour.

If you want some good whole wheat bread for Thanksgiving, I would make dinner rolls out of the following bread recipe.

The oil, honey and gluten work together to make a soft, moist, fluffy bread.

If you want to make a good whole wheat artisan bread, I would do the whole wheat sourdough miche (ball) on the home page of this site. The sourdough gives strength to the dough.

amyt's picture

Thanks all for the tips. I made a "practice pie crust" while home-milled flour, and though we loved it, we decided it was a bit healthy tasting to be a crowd pleaser. I did all breads with KA on Txgiving, and since it was two full days of cooking as it was, I'm glad I didn't make any extra work for myself! But Tad, those rolls look fabulous, I'll definitely give them a try.

CB - to answer your questions, I have a "Back to Basics" hand-cranked mill because it was cheapest. The plan was to save up for a nicer one if I need it, but so far this one suits me fine. We are off-grid, so an electric mill would probably be more hassle than it's worth. The house is one-room, so it's easy to just go to the counter and crank anytime we find ourselves with idle hands - while chatting, reading, etc. This way, I don't have to crank two pounds of flour all at once on bread day!