The Fresh Loaf

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Adjusting recipes for fresh-ground wheat berries

JerrytheK's picture

Adjusting recipes for fresh-ground wheat berries

Hello, I'm new to the forum, though I've been baking for several years, primarily no-knead breads, both yeast and sourdough.

I recently acquired a used electric grain mill. I purchased wheat berries at Natural Grocers in Denver and baked Ken Forkish's Overnight 40% whole wheat bread with good results. I then looked around for a better and cheaper source for wheat berries and found a farmer in Colorado who sells into the Denver area. Bought both heritage and non-heritage wheat from them.

My first batch rose very quickly in the first rise, and probably over rose. I presumed that the fresh-ground wheat provides more 'fuel' for the yeast than does flour that's older.

The Forkish recipe calls for 3/4 tsp yeast for 1,000 grams of flour.

On the next batch (baked this morning) I cut the yeast back by a third to 1/2 tsp.

The first rise was still a bit quicker than store-bought whole wheat, but slower than my first attempt.

The bread came out well.

My question is: Any other tips when using fresh-ground whole wheat flour? Any ideas to slow down the rise other than cutting back on the amount of yeast?

Thanks in advance.

rgreenberg2000's picture


I'm a pretty new miller myself, but a couple of things that I've picked up so far.....  Yes, typically, your dough will progress/ferment faster with fresh ground wheat (this is dependent on the % of fresh ground in your formula, but will likely speed up the process.)  If I have 50% or more freshly ground wheat, I will use colder water in the mix as that helps to slow things down a bit.  Other than that, you just need to watch the dough, and know that your timing from previous batches will be different.  Another thing to watch is how much your mill heats up the flour when it is grinding.  I didn't like how warm mine was getting, so I now keep a stash of berries in the freezer so I can reduce the starting temp when I'm grinding flour for my usual full batch (1200g total flour, usually no more than 50% fresh ground.)

I'm sure more experienced millers will be along to add more info.  Good luck!


subfuscpersona's picture

Other than reducing the amount of yeast, which you've already done, you can try reducing the dough temperature for the bulk rise.

There are 2 approaches - you can do all or part of of your bulk ferment in  the refrigerator OR you can use very cold (rather than room temperature) water.

Another thing I usually do when baking bread with home milled whole grain flour is to do an autolyse as the first step in the dough mixing. I add enough of the water in my recipe to cover the whole grain flour(s) I'm using (no salt, no yeast) and let rest for 1-2 hours. This helps soften the harder bran particles. Then proceed as usual.

and a question - What grain mill did you buy? As a long time home miller I'm always interested in the mills people buy. TIA!

JerrytheK's picture

Thanks for the tips!

I used 75 degree water. Forkish shoots for a 78 - 79 degree final temp after the final dough mix.

I do use an autolyse, but only for half an hour, and yes, no yeast or salt during the autolyse.

I'll try the two hour autolyse, as the dough's tasty, but a bit tight (which I know can be expected with the amount of whole wheat used).

I bought a Whisper Mill, production date 1999 for the grand sum of $40! I wanted to try home milling, but not to the tune of $240! Found it on craigslist and the buyer was delighted to seeing it gone and I was delighted to rehome it.


JerrytheK's picture

Thanks for the tips! 

For the next batch, I used cooler water, and autolysed (if that's a word) for an hour, rather than the usual :20 - :30.

The bulk rise was slower to top out and the refrigerator rise was slower too.

I'm still having some issues with the crumb, but I think my next move is to score the dough more before baking.

barryvabeach's picture

Jerry,   while many are searching for an open crumb, to me the most important thing is the taste, hope you are enjoying the taste of home milled wheat. 

JerrytheK's picture

Could not agree more.

The taste is fantastic with freshly ground wheat berries. It's almost savory.

subfuscpersona's picture

As you're discovering, baking with fresh milled flour is an adventure. To my knowledge, even the best professional bakers who have written books for home bakers don't use fresh milled flour in their breads, so some adjustment will usually be called for, especially if your home milled whole wheat flour is more than abouit 15% of total flour weight.

Good idea to experiment with your scoring. That might help. You might also try extending your autolyse to 1-1/2 hours, tho it's better to modify one thing at a time.

I don't have the Forkish book, so what's the hydratioin % for this bread and what % of the flour is home milled whole wheat?

Also, what kind of wheat berries are you milling - spring or winter wheat?

Good purchase on your Wondermill. That mill has a good reputation for sturdiness.

Best of luck in your baking. Do keep us posted on your progess.


JerrytheK's picture

Thanks for the ongoing tips.

Forkish just calls for whole wheat.

The recipe is:

600 g white flour, 400 g ww flour, 800g water (80% hydration) 22 g salt and 3/4 tsp yeast (0.3%)

I've tried 88% hydration to account for the fresh-ground whole wheat, but that seemed a bit much. I've also cut back the yeast to 1/2 tsp, but have yet to try cold, rather than about 70 F water.

I'm trying the 1:30 autolyse today.

I bought two kinds of winter wheat berries, Colorado Rustic Red Whole Wheat and Turkey Red.

I'm not noticing a difference between the two varieties.

As a bonus, the farm also sells fresh eggs, as in picked up yesterday fresh. Wow, what a difference!!

Here's the farm I buy from:

No interest in it, other than hoping they keep on going!!



JerrytheK's picture

Here's the latest results for fresh-milled whole wheat. I used the recipe in the prior post. 

Started at 2:30 PM. 1:30 autolyse. Final mix at 4:00, four turns until 6:00. Shaped at 10:20 and into the refrigerator in baskets.

Woke up early, and the dough was ready to bake at 4:30 AM. Baked at 5:05 for :30 at 475 F in a dutch oven top (covered), then uncovered for another :20 bake.

As you can see, the amount of whole wheat inhibits rise to some degree, but still decent crumb and excellent crust. Most importantly, tastes great.

barryvabeach's picture

Looks great to me, and love the color of the crust. 

Tess's picture

Hi I have just read your post, are you able to share your recipe? I have just joined this site, looking for whole wheat sourdough recipes.


JerrytheK's picture

Hi and welcome. If you scroll up a few posts, I put in a shorthand version of the recipe. However, the recipe uses yeast rather than a sourdough starter.

The recipe could be made using sourdough starter though. About 225 g ww, 655 g AP flour, 700 g water and 216 g levain. Autolyse for an hour or so, add levain, mix, then four folds and an overnight rise of about 12 hours. Shape, allow to rise until the dough passes the poke test. Bake in a preheated dutch oven at 475 covered for :30, uncover and bake for another :20. This is the Forkish Overnight Country Brown from memory.

idaveindy's picture

Fresh ground wheat has made me a real wheat snob.

Though great loaves can be made from 100% home milled winter red wheat, (DanAyo does it) the secret for _easy_ light fluffy 100% home milled wheat is to use Hard _White_ _Spring_ wheat.

White versus red wheat.  And spring versus winter wheat.

Also, there is a difference between hard red winter, and hard red spring.  Hard red spring is a tad lighter and seems  less  "bran-y" to me. Whether it's less bran, or softer bran, I dunno.

If you're out west, there are at least a few sources of hard white spring, at least one farm in Utah and at least two farms in Montana.  sells to the public, both flour and whole berries.  And , flour and berries, wholesale only, but they give a list of their retailers.

Prairie Gold is a variety of hard white spring from Wheat Montana, that I buy in whole berry, in group orders from

Seriously, if you use 100% Prairie Gold, (or other similar hard white spring, I assume) you do not have to mix in any store-bought AP or bread flour. The crumb of  a loaf of 100% PG feels like it is no more than 50% whole wheat.

If you want to test Prairie Gold without buying 25 or 50 pounds of berries, you can buy 5 pound plastic bags of their flour at most Walmart stores. It is milled by the  grower, in their own impact mill, so it is 100% extraction. Home-milled PG is even better.

If you like the taste of red wheat, I've done 75% Prairie Gold, and 25% hard red spring.

Wheat Montana's red spring wheat is called "Bronze Chief" and that is available as impact-milled flour at Walmart too. Test it, and if you like, then check Wheat Montana's retailers to see where you can get the berries.

"Soft Red" wheat, winter or spring, should be avoided for bread. But it would be okay for pancakes and such. It's basically a pastry flour.



Saphira's picture

I would like to revive this thread. I am working on the same problem and can't figure out how to adjust proportions for my bread. I am using bread machine for kneading and another proof in the oven (my oven has proof setting), then bake in a steam oven. I am using fresh milled red or white wheat. 

The outcome is a little flat and too wet, sticking to the  hands out of the bread maker. I am not using starter, just put all in the bread machine and out comes the dough. 

another question I have is the source for spring hard white wheat, preferably organic. I am on the east coast.

Thank you 

SeasideJess's picture

Hi Saphira, 

Azure Standard carries organic hard white berries. Or you could contact these guys and see if they will let you order some un-milled grain:

As for your dough question, to me the bread machine is a bit of a black way to know what's really going on in there. When I first started baking (I started with 100% WW from the beginning) I used to knead in a stand mixer but I couldn't make good bread. After a lot of trial and error, I'm making consistently good 100% ww bread from home milled flour, both sourdough and conventional dry yeast. The key for me is an autolyse combined with the right hydration (between 70 to 80%). This means that there's not much kneading required in any of my breads.  

My suggestion is to start by mixing your flour and water until just barely mixed/wetted, then stop. It should be mushy. *It's important that you stop, do not keeping going and developing the gluten at this stage. Cover and let rest for an hour to hydrate the bran and develop the gluten.

After an hour, spread the dough out flat on the counter, sprinkle on your instant yeast and salt and whatever else is in the recipe, roll it up, and knead by hand on the counter for about 2 to 5 minutes until it feels like the salt has disappeared and the gluten is developed. The dough will be very cohesive and springy and have a moist tacky surface.

Then continue with your bulk proof as before (optionally you can do a letter fold or two at 1/2 hour intervals during the bulk proof, just to organize the dough and build strength.) Then do a final, gentle letter fold, shape the dough, and let it have it's final hour-long proof. 

I think you will get better results from this than from using the bread machine to knead. And you will start to get comfortable handling the dough and knowing the proofing stages. 

Here is a really lovely video of 100% whole wheat bread using this method. It's a sourdough, so the timing is different for the proofing, but you can use these instructions and just sprinkle on your instant yeast and salt at the time when she adds the sourdough starter and salt.  You can see that she only kneads for 3 minutes, just to bring together the starter and salt with the dough. 

*I don't know why developing the gluten at the very beginning mix stage messes things up so badly for me. I just know that it makes the gluten so weird: it almost seems to separate from the dough into strings. It's just not good. Maybe this is what's happening in your bread machine.