Let’s talk about… home milling

Do you buy your flour or do you mill your own? I started milling my own flour about four years ago and have never looked back. It just tastes and smells so much better!
Working with mostly wholegrain took some getting used to though. But with some small changes to your baking process, it’s easy peasy.

Once I was milling my grains, I wanted to mill everything so I wouldn’t have to buy all those specialty things like linseed flour or amaranth flour anymore. And there’s the first hurdle. Not every mill is built the same and not every mill can handle everything.

Let’s have a look at the differences.

  1. mill with a stone grinding mechanism
    – works with a grinding mechanism made of korund
    – those stones are self sharpening and keep practically forever
    – it’s much more expensive than one with a steel grinding mechanism
    – allows for a finer grind, more possibilities with later sifting
    – can’t grind oily seeds like sesame, poppy, sunflower,… on their own.
    they would cake up the stones. small portions of seeds mixed into
    the grains are ok though.
  2. mill with a steel grinding mechanism
    – works with a grinding mechanism made of stainless steel
    – much more budget friendly than the stone mills
    – those steel “teeth” get dull after a while and the grinding
    mechanism has to be replaced eventually
    – replacement is easy and not too expensive
    – can’t mill as finely as a mill with stones
    – can grind oily seeds without a problem

The next difference is: handcrank or motorized?

I started with a small handcrank mill. I still have it as a backup, and while it’s pretty fast for such a small one, it can turn into a bit of a workout to grind more than 500g at once. So the real question is: how much do you mill in one sitting?

Both my mills are stone mills, both are in regular use, and I’m just so happy that I only have to store grains in the basement and not an additional 15 kinds of flours. I mill most of those myself now. And with a bit of sifting, I can even make something similar to a breadflour and an all purpose flour. I’ll show you how next week.

I already mentioned that working with wholegrain flour needs a bit of an adjusted process. Here are the basics:

  • Homemilled flour is always a bit coarser than industrially milled flour.
  • The bran can soak up a lot of water, so doughs with wholegrain flour need more liquids than doughs that are made from just all purpose flour. Otherwise you end up with a brick.
  • Wholegrain flour needs more time to soak up the liquids in the dough, so it’s very easy to overflour or underhydrate. In the beginning, the dough looks very different from what it becomes once the water is all soaked up. I usually rely on baker’s percentages (80-90% hydration), just mix, let it rest for an hour, then do stretches and folds instead of kneading it to completion. Time does all the work for me.
  • Home milled flour always contains the germ. It’s mostly fatty and can get rancid pretty quickly once it’s not protected inside the grain berry anymore. That’s why I always mill fresh what I need.

Switching cold turkey from all purpose to freshly ground wholegrain can be a bit of an adjustment, often more so for your family members than for yourself. Wholegrain breads are a bit more dense than all purpose flour breads, and the color is darker. Start with exchanging just a quarter of the all purpose for freshly ground and gradually increase the amount with every bake. Makes it easier for your family to adjust to the new bread, and for you to get used to the process.

Next week, I talk you through milling and sifting to make your own bread flour and all purpose flour equivalent.

Hope to see you again soon!

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