Grind your own whole wheat flour – how sweet is that?

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Whole wheat flour gives some people the baking willies. Their stories about baking a loaf of whole wheat bread range from “I made a brick,” to “This is the best loaf of bread I ever made.” One tool that may give you the edge is the Nutrimill electric grain mill, which grinds fresh wheat berries to produce the freshest tasting flour you’ve ever had.

If you’re familiar with the “bite” of whole wheat flour, what you’re tasting is probably a touch of rancidity from the wheat germ. The fresh-ground flour we made with the Nutrimill had no bitter taste; since the wheat berries were freshly ground, the germ didn’t have time to oxidize, which is what makes it bitter. In fact, the bread dough made with freshly ground flour tasted downright nutty and sweet!

Granted, the Nutrimill is an investment but if you’re a whole wheat family, it might be the perfect gift to add to your list for Santa. I can imagine a new version of the song “Santa Baby” that would go something like this:

“Santa Baby, slip a Nutrimill under the tree for me, been an awful good baker…”

In this blog I ’ll describe how the Nutrimill is used to turn wheat berries into flour; then lead you through a recipe for King Arthur’s 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.

First, the Nutrimill:

Red wheat berries are poured into the top compartment or hopper. Once you’re sure the flour bowl is in place, and you’ve added the cover, then turn on the mill. I used both the dials set on high and on finer settings, to grind the wheat berries info fine flour.

You can’t see the berries grinding or see the finished product until the grinding process is finished. You can look into the top hopper through slits in the lid to see if all the berries have entered the mill unit.

The fresh-ground flour collects in the flour bowl near the base of the unit. It took less than 2 minutes to grind a pound of berries into flour.

To use this fresh-ground flour in a recipe, we chose the King Arthur’s 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, making one loaf with the fresh-ground flour (on the right), and one loaf with King Arthur Flour Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour (on the left).

Measure all ingredients into your mixing bowl, including the chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds.

Mix these ingredients until you have a shaggy dough. Halfway through the mixing, scrape the sides of the dough to gather it into the center of the bowl, and continue mixing. Then let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This gives the whole wheat flour a chance to absorb the liquid.

Attach the dough hook to your mixer and knead until the dough is smooth. Six and a half minutes on the stand mixer was the time we used. You could also knead the dough by hand until it feels soft and supple.

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or our favorite – the clean shower cap – for 1 hour. Our doughs before (bagged flour on the left, fresh-ground flour on the right)…..

…and our doughs after!  The fresh-ground flour beats the bagged flour for rise!

PJ likes to shape a loaf of bread by rolling it into a log and placing in the baking pan.

I like to get my hands on the dough!  I turn it out onto the kneading surface and gather it together with the dough scraper before de-gassing with flat hands.

My favorite shaping technique for a loaf is to pat or roll out the dough into an 8″ x 12″ rectangle, then fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Be sure to slightly tuck the top edge of the dough under the loaf.

After 1 hour, the loaves are ready to bake. Look for the loaf to be crowned 1″ over the edge of the pan. This is measured from the middle of the loaf, not all the way around! PJ’s loaf using bagged flour on the left; Irene’s loaf using fresh ground wheat flour on the right!

[Ed. note: Had I let the loaf on the left rise longer, it would have attained the same height as the loaf on the right. Fresh-ground flour simply produces a faster rise. - PJH]

Bake for 45 minutes. By now, you know which loaf was made with the  bagged flour and which one is the fresh-ground flour!

Many recipes that have a long bake time suggest tenting for a period of time at the end of the baking so the bread doesn’t brown too much. Simply place a piece of foil lightly over the top of the bread.

Yeast bread has finished baking when the interior temperature is at least 190°F. Our breads certainly meet that benchmark! Fresh-ground flour loaf with the thermometer, bagged flour in the back!

Our finished loaves have switched positions to show the interior of the loaves. Fresh-ground flour on the left, and bagged flour on the right. Both loaves were delicious, but the fresh-ground flour loaf  tasted sweet – no bitter tang.

You can also counteract any bitter taste by using a couple of tablespoons of orange juice as part of the liquid in your recipe. But for best taste – fresh-grind your own whole wheat flour. Nutrimill makes it simple.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for King Arthur’s 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.

comments

  1. milkwithknives

    Hooray! I have looked at grain mills a dozen times but never took the plunge. I was never convinced they produced actual, usable flour and not just pulverized wreckage, but I am so captivated by the thought of freshly ground flour. What about the wheat berries? Is it wise to buy the 25 lb sack they have at the case lot sales every few months? Does it store in the freezer the same as ground flour? And you say there is NO BITTER WHOLE WHEAT TASTE? I’m doing backflips right now. I’m definitely asking for this mill for Christmas, which I chickened out on for my birthday last month.

    The back flip imagery had me smiling! You may actually store your wheat berries just about anywhere. They do no need to be in a cooler environment like milled whole grains. So, buy away! Elisabeth

    Reply
  2. bellesaz

    Hmmm… I honestly don’t mean to be critical here, so take it with a grain of salt. (no pun intended.) But, I’m not sure what happened to your loaf, Irene. The rise was not great and the loaf seemed to deflate. I am not convinced that fresh milled wheat is, in any way, superior to other wheats of good quality, like KAF. I have never found a rancid bag from KAF and my breads, rolls, etc have always been outstanding. Fresh milled wheat may rise faster, but is that necessarily best? I don’t think so. I am from the old school.. a slow rise is a sure rise and breads prepared this way are better overall.

    There is not enough taste difference or production difference to justify the cost and I kind of like the convenience of KAF whole wheat flour already ground. Many bakers I know have purchased them and they collect dust.

    I think if you’re a very busy baker, do alot of whole wheats or need something to grind corn or other grains… it’s a good investment and they are a reliable, well-built machine.

    Reply
    1. Rachel

      I absolutely love my Nutrimill. It’s so EASY and fast to use and my family loves the bread I make with freshly-milled flour. A perk that I enjoy is that my father-in-law grows hard red wheat so I have all the fresh wheat I need (no chemicals or pesticides). I mill only the amount I need for a particular recipe. That way the flour is as fresh as possible and full of nutrients. According to me, the Nutrimill is definitely worth the investment; it’s economical, helps us eat healthful and tasty bread, and most importantly, I enjoy it!

  3. Mrs. Hittle

    i LOVE my Nutrimill! i have been using it for a few years now and we live almost exclusively on the whole wheat that i grind myself. It’s so easy that i usually just weigh out what i need for a recipe and grind that (i’ve been known to grind as little as 1/2 c. at a time). That eliminates the factor of rancidity entirely, as i use the flour as soon as it’s ground, rather than grinding several pounds and storing it. i use both pastry wheat berries (soft wheat) and hard white wheat. i also make my own cornmeal from popcorn in this thing, and it makes the best cornbread in the world. i love knowing that all the nutrients are as intact as possible, and it’s so satisfying to pull a loaf of bread or even a batch of cream puffs out of the oven and know that i did this, start to finish, from wheat berries to the final product. i can’t say enough good things about this– it’s my favourite appliance.

    Reply
  4. jagreen77

    Every week I make 100% whole grain bread from freshly ground flour.

    I’d like to share my tips of success for 100% whole wheat bread that creates a loaf similar to a high-quality store-bought loaf of bread.

    * Mix together before grinding one half hard red wheat kernels and one half hard white wheat kernels. The mix of the red and white gives the bread the lovely color and less of the intense flavor.

    * Whole wheat NEEDS to autolyse to allow it to absorb the liquid. At the start I autolyse 2/3 of the whole wheat flour in very warm water for about 30 minutes. This gives the gluten a boost to be able to support the weight of the dough. Then I mix in the remaining ingredients, except for the flour, which I add a bit at a time so as to get a dough that is sticky yet firm enough to hold it’s shape. Autolysing will also save your mixer from having to knead the dough for a longer amount of time. When adding the last of the flour and you are unsure if it requires more flour, stop! and let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the newly added flour to absorb moisture. This will prevent you from making bricks rather than bread. If the dough is still too sticky to work with after the rest, then add more flour. Listen to the motor of your mixer, it will tell you when it can not handle any more flour.

    * Use a dough enhancer for 100% whole wheat bread. I have tried the King Arthur dough enhancer, it is OK, but I have found better results with the “Dough Enhancer” made and distributed by Kitchen Resource. (Maybe King Arthur Flour will carry it now, as it is hard to find in stores???)

    *Adding dry milk will also create a more tender crumb.

    *Try using dark brown sugar instead of honey. (It gives the bread a depth of flavor. I add it to the warm water before adding any flour so it can fully dissolve.)

    * I have found that allowing the dough to proof creates large air pockets that can not be rolled out creating a crumbly and un-uniformed bread crum. As soon as the dough is done being mixed, dump it onto a surface lubed with oil or shortening, NOT flour – this will only make the dough tougher. I have found that using a silpat (silicone baking mat) works great for working on. To keep it from moving around on me, I squirt water underneath it on the counter.

    * To make nice looking loaves, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle that is as wide as the pan’s length, and is as long as about one and one-half of the pan’s length. Lightly squirt the top of the dough with water for better adherence. Tightly roll the rectangle into a loaf jelly-roll-style, beginning at the bottom of the width end. As each small section of the dough is rolled, seal it with the edge of your palm or fingers – pulling and patting to seal the dough as you roll to ensure the loaf will not have air bubbles or holes. Uniform rolling ensures a uniform texture in the finished bread. Finish the loaf by pinching the seam and the ends to keep them from opening.

    *Homemade whole wheat bread does not have to have a crust that cuts the roof of your mouth every time to you eat it. To soften the crust of the loaf follow these steps: As soon as the loaf is done baking remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack. Take a squirt bottle filled with water and squirt the entire loaf, especially the top crust until it is moist. DO NOT cut into the loaft until it has cooled and set at least 3 hours, otherwise you’ll ruin the integrity of the crum.

    If you’d like to see my recipe in detail visit the blog: http://wholewheaters.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  5. stanville

    Thank you , Elisabeth–one of these days I’ll dive down to the bottom of my freezer to haul the wheat berries out.

    And thank you, Jagreen for all the good tips. Although one loaf will always be sacrificed while hot!

    Reply
  6. LeeB

    I have had my Nutrimill for at least six years now. I use it for all my flour needs except (of course) for unbleached white flour when only King Arthur will do. :) I also do “Ezekiel” mix – beans and grains – in my Nutrimill AND I sprout wheat, dehydrate it and then grind sprouted wheat flour too!
    When we switched from bagged whole wheat to freshly milled the whole family immediately noticed the difference. The kids, who were toddlers at the time and not big fans of whole wheat, suddenly couldn’t get enough. The vitamin E content of fresh milled wheat is much higher since there is not time for it to turn bad or degrade in any way.
    Freshly milled rye is super in sourdough. The mill also does millet, popcorn (for cornbread) – just don’t do flax or oily seeds, use a smaller flaxseed mill or spice grinder for that.
    Another big plus is the Nutrimill company customer service. When I clogged up my mill accidentally with some very large dried beans they took it right back, fixed it up and sent it back and I only had to pay shipping to them! Paired up with Kind Arthur’s great customer service this seems like a win-win partnership!
    Another question that arises sometimes with home mills is the temperature – final product temperature in some mills gets too high and does promote oxidation of the whole grain’s vitamins – but an instant read thermometer stuck into the bucket showed me it never gets above 105 degrees.

    Thanks for sharing your Nutrimill / fresh ground wheat story with us! We can write a blog, but it’s hard to dscribe the sweet difference in flavor. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  7. sharonanne.com

    Irene, you’re a girl after my own heart! I’ve taught bread classes for years and agree that fresh whole grain flour bakes loaves, with a superior flavor. I store and USE traditional red wheat berries and white wheat berries to grind my own flour.

    I do mill my own wheat flour, I also love King Arthur’s website and cookbooks for their amazing knowledge base, especially this blog.

    Warmly,
    Sharon Anne
    sharonanne.com

    Reply
  8. Wei-Wei

    Fresh-ground flour sounds so amazing! I suppose anything ground fresh would be best. I’m wondering – does this flour mill work anything like a coffee grinder? I’ve seen people grinding whole wheat groats in coffee grinders to eat oatmeal in the morning – would it the work the same way as this? Great post, by the way – informative and entertaining as always. KAF rocks!

    Wei-Wei – Here’s al ist of what it grinds: “Surgical stainless steel micro-burst milling heads grind wheat, rye, oat groats, spelt, barley, quinoa, millet, triticale, buckwheat, rice, split peas, popcorn, sorghum, dried beans (not coffee), dried lentils, dried sweet corn, kamut, soybeans, and chickpeas.” So you wouldn’t want to do coffee, but most other things are just fine. PJH

    Reply
  9. Jimmy860

    We use King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour to make loaves, in a set of two. BUT, this last time when we used the KA recipe, we kneaded / shaped it as Martha does in her Olive Oil Bread recipe. One big round loaf on a stone; it came out GREAT. Much “fluffier” than the standard two loaves. The second rise had it practically foaming over the edges of the stone, and it baked perfectly. Amazing! We slathered it with butter and let it soak in, so that by the tim eit cooled, the bread had a softly-crusty, buttery top. Fabulous… and all thanks, really, to these wonderful KA flours… !

    Reply
  10. milkwithknives

    Exactly what I thought, especially when Wei-Wei asked about the coffee grinder! As much as I live and die for fresh, whole grain bread, I don’t think I’d like to eat it and nothing else for three meals a day.

    I have spoken to my husb and he agrees this grain mill will be an excellent investment. It’s coming to me for Christmas and I’m so excited!

    Reply
  11. breadhead

    Maybe you didn’t really mean for this to be a comparison of freshly milled vs bagged flour, but by doing all the side-by-side photos sure makes it look that way. At least three factors make it not a comparison of much value. 1. Are the berries you milled the same as the ones used to produce the bagged flour? There can be HUGE differences between wheat from two sources. 2. The two loaves were made by different bakers who do not use the same shaping techniques. 3. You acknowledge that you could have allowed the bagged-flour loaf to rise longer and achieved the same volume as the fresh-flour loaf, but for some reason you didn’t, which certainly contributed to the fresh-flour loaf winning the beauty contest.

    Obviously, you want the mill to appear worthwhile in this post, and no one will blame you for that. It seems you could have done a more rigorous comparison and still been able to convince potential customers of the value of milling their own whole grain flour.

    I own a home flour mill, albeit not a Nutrimill. I use it regularly for whole rye, wheat, and spelt flour. The breads are delicious. I maintain whole wheat levain and a rye sour using only just-milled whole grain flours, they are extremely vital and have sweet, fruity aromas that are not so obvious when I refresh the starters with pre-milled whole grain flours — even from the same grain source.

    Reply
  12. Deb

    I am so happy to see KAF talking about milling your own flour! I have been grinding my own wheat and baking 100% of my family’s bread (using the Amazing Bosch Universal) for about 6 months and have often wondered how KAF recipes would work using freshly-ground flour. Nothing would make me happier than to see your recipes adjusted for using freshly-ground flour.

    I don’t know how KAF’s dough enhancer works, because I make my own. I would love it if you would start to carry the ingredients for it.
    When PJ and I made the blog wheat breads using freshly ground flour, we didn’t adjust the fresh ground wheat amount from the original recipe amount. You should be able to use the freshly ground wheat in recipes that call for whole wheat flour. As always check dough consistency and add more flour if the dough seems too loose or more liquid if the dough seems too dry. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  13. julieannemartin

    I have been grinding grain for 30 years. I use to live in Colorado where it was easy to get the whole grain wheat–now that I live in NH it is difficult to find it in bulk. I’d like to get it in 50 pound bags–can I do this through your store?

    Sadly, the Organic Red Wheat Berries are only available in the 3 pound bags. You might consider checking with your local bakery or foodservice distributor or even a food co-op to see if bulk purchases are available from them. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
    1. Jane of all trades

      If you have a Whole Foods Market or any store with a bulk food section. They often have whole weat berries and most will be happy to sell you 25 or 50# bags if you ask. If you can’t find any stores near you I know Emergancy Essentails will ship to the continantal states and they sell wheat in 45 lb sealed pails for food storage for about $45 plus $6 shipping. Beprepared.com
      I love grinding my own flour and can’t wait to upgrade to a nutimill.( I use a 20+ year old hand me down right now), I even use a sourdough starter for nearly all my breads.

  14. Cheryl

    For me grinding wheat works well. I store my bags of flour in my cool room downstairs, but cannot store as much as I would like to due to rotation issues. I can store wheat and grind it as I need it. I heard a man from a local Roller Mill speak at a flour class I attended say that home mills “murder” the wheat. A handful of home milled wheat is not nearly as pretty as commercially milled flour; however, either flour will produce beautiful bread in my experience. For me, it is about flexibility and options.
    I love my Blendtec Kitchen Mill, but I love KAF products too.
    Thanks for taking the time to do the demo. :o)

    http://ldsmomtomany.blogspot.com/2010/04/bread-glorious-bread-half-white-half.html

    Reply
  15. Darrell

    Do you know where I can buy25-50 lbs of wheat to grind at our county fair, ASAP

    Sadly, ours are only sold in 3 pound bags – a quick on-line search may yield you some fast results – or call our Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-2253 and we’ll work with you to find a resource. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  16. Susan Wozniak

    The woman who taught me how to bake bread, more than 40 years ago, when her husband was in medical school and she was a substitute teacher, had a manual grinder because whole wheat berries were so cheap in Detroit in those days. They used to fasten the grinder to a board and lay it across some plastic storage barrels and take turns grinding and sitting on the other end of the board to anchor it.

    I wanted a mill all these years. This summer, I heard of a grain CSA which I bought and split with my daughter. Rather than repay me for their half the share, my daughter and her husband bought me a grain mill. We made bread today, using the KA recipe. It is still in the oven but I did not find making fresh whole wheat bread the formidable task I was led to believe although the people who are the CSA told me that fresh wheat sometimes never bakes in the middle.

    I hand kneaded the bread as I do not like the taste of bread that is machine kneaded. We shall see.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      I’ll bet it’ll be delicious, Susan. Bread made with just-ground wheat is, as we note here, high-rising and wonderfully sweet. Enjoy! PJH

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