The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Milling Is it Really Worth It?

Ricko's picture

Milling Is it Really Worth It?

I'm here to say that the more I read on you folks who do your own milling, I'm feeling the bug biting. Short of making a pest of myself with all the elementary questions on this forum, can someone point me to a good book or video on milling flour that might provide some answers and get me over the question hump? 

As for bread types, I bake every week as we enjoy a heavy rye as well as a white sourdough. For our general table use we use a white yeast bread. 

Just in the little bit of investigation I've done on milling, there are many questions that come to mind in regards to the wheat berry combinations suited for the specific bread one wants to make. Such as red hard spring wheat berries, white hard spring wheat berries, and lets not forget all the winter wheat berries! And if this isn't enough to tax one's mind, there is the subject of sieves and screens and what sizes are needed #40, #50, #60, etc. etc. 

One thing I do know for sure is that all you folks who do grind your own fresh flour say that the end loaf results are better than anything made with commercially milled flour! This is encouraging!

So before I jump on the milling train which seems like a hobby in itself, I think I need to do a bit more investigation. Thanks in advance for the support.

barryvabeach's picture

Ricko,  I responded to your other post on flour choices.  As to a good overall introduction on home milling,  I don't know of one, though Dave may come along,  he has some posts that he likes that give some tips.  There are some videos   and sites - I just did a search, and while I just skimmed it,  it looks like a good introduction.

As mentioned in the other post- get some berries and mill up some flour.  I don't sift or sieve , though others do.  I just use it straight, though I don't expect an open and airy crust that you get with store bought bread flour or AP.  

Many suggest you find a recipe that is for a 100% whole wheat loaf, and use that as a starting point, and that can be a good approach.

The other approach is to take a recipe you like, and make it using 90% of the flour called for and 10% home milled -  and adjust the timing and hydration so that it performs similarly to the recipe when you made it with 100% store bought flour.  Then keep increasing the home milled flour each time you make it by small amounts until you get to 100% home milled.  Recognize, that you will not get the same oven spring and openness you would get with AP, but the flavor, IMO, is so much better.  The advantage to this approach is that while you may find a recipe for whole wheat flour,  or even home milled whole wheat,  there are so many varieties of whole wheat, and different mills, and other variables, that it is unlikely you will find a home milled whole wheat recipe that will work exactly the same in your kitchen. 

There are 3 main changes going from store bought to home milled whole wheat -  most of us believe that home milled whole wheat benefits greatly from autolyze, so if that is not in the recipe, add that step - 30 min to 1 hour is normally suggested.  Second, you will want to increase the hydration compared to AP -  how much will vary depending on your particular flour - but I would start by increasing water by 5%, and then 10% and see what you think.  Finally, wheat usually ferments faster -  so if the recipe says it will double in 4 hours -  check it well before then.    Good luck.

gavinc's picture

I bought a small electric stone mill a few years ago, mainly for milling rye flour as it was very difficult to buy in my area. My regular bakes use between 10% and 25% whole rye or whole wheat. I mill "on-demand" the day before I bake so that the flour is fresh. The flavour difference in my loaves is significant and worth every cent.

Recently I converted my liquid white levain to a firm rye sourdough starter (85% hydration) and feed it every morning with rye flour. It lives on my kitchen counter and is never refrigerated. When I need a liquid white levain, I elaborate from the firm starter over two feeds. The resulting levain is the most active I had in years.

Hope this helps.