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From berries to bread, right in my kitchen

Whole wheat bread... yummy!!

After months of wishful thinking, hours of reading and researching, and days spent anxiously waiting, our grain mill arrived!!

We got a WonderMill, and I love it! It's so easy to use. It's small, about as big around as my tea kettle, but a little taller of course. :) It mills flour very quickly -- just a few minutes of operation yields enough flour for several loaves of bread. :)

Although the WonderMill is reportedly the quietest of any impact/micronizer mills, I knew it would still be loud. Thankfully, it's not quite as bad as I expected. Before the grain is added, it sounds like our blender. While it's grinding the grain, it's quieter than a blender. I still don't like noise, but at least it's a useful sort of noise, unlike loud toys or tv. ;)

We had fun trying out the mill, and our first loaf of 100% whole wheat bread turned out fabulous. We used Prairie Gold hard white wheat, which I had bought in a 50-lb bag in anticipation of getting a grain mill.

Joshua, my science-loving husband, added some dough conditioners for me, since he's done all the research on that end. ;)

Our loaf of bread was so soft... seriously, the texture was just like bread from the store. I like my bread a little more "homemade-like", but the "store-like" kind will be perfect for sandwiches in Joshua's lunch. I sliced the bread 6 minutes after taking it out of the oven, and it didn't tear or crumble a bit. It had a great texture! (I say "had" because it's gone now... 5 hours later.)

I'll update the recipe with notes about making the 100% whole wheat loaf we made, since the recipe originally calls for 1/2 all-purpose flour.

I'm so thrilled about having our own flour mill! This mill was an anniversary gift to me from Joshua (our 6th anniversary was in March) and I know I will put it to good use! :) Thank you, Joshua!! :)

Comments

Congrats!

Oh that's wonderful!
I can't wait to see what wonderful recipes that you come up with to share with us!;-)

Lilyofthevalley's picture

What lovely looking bread!

What lovely looking bread! I'm sure it tasted good too! I need to start looking into grain mills. :) Does it make the flour hot?? ~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

Tammy's picture

Grain mill, warm flour

The impact/micronizer mills do make the flour a little warm, but it cools quickly (from my experience with our Wonder Mill). I have read reviews where the stone mill manufacturers try to make the cooler grinding temperatures into a big health difference/selling point, but in our research we couldn't find evidence that the flour temperature from a micronizing mill was significant enough to harm the nutrients.

I think a good quality stone mill (like a Retsel!) would be the ideal grain mill solution, as it can be motorized or hand operated and can grind flour or crack grains. (The micronizer mills are essentially ONLY flour mills, as they canot crack grains or do cereal grinds.) We couldn't afford a Retsel though! :)

Lilyofthevalley's picture

Thanks!

Thanks Tammy, I am going to start looking in to grain mills. :) I was just wondering, because I have heard that some mills make the flour really hot, but I have not done much research on that issue. Enjoy your fresh bread!! ~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

saremca's picture

Wonderful!

I'm saving to buy a WonderMill right now. Almost there!

Amazing!

Wow!!!!!! I've never seen homemade bread with such texture! That's amazing. I'd love to be able to turn out "Sandwichable" loaves like that, with 100% whole wheat. I hope the recipe is what makes the difference - because I plan to try it.
You make me miss our home-ground wheat. We have a mill, but the place where we were buying our wheat went out of business, and we haven't found anywhere else yet. Mmm, I'm hungry!

VickyO664's picture

Yum!

Your bread looks wonderful, Tammy! :) After I started making modifications to my bread dough, I've been amazed at the texture difference.

Wow, why are grain mills so expensive? :( Is this something that's guaranteed to last a while and not break down quickly like a bread maker or blender, any appliance that gets a lot of use? I wouldn't want to spend that kind of money and have it only last a year or two....

Thanks! :)

Tammy's picture

Grain mills are designed for

Grain mills are designed for years of (home, not commercial) use. I know the NutriMill has a lifetime warranty! :)

Joshua's picture

Dough Conditioners and Bread

I will do a formal post on this topic soon, but I wanted to do a small note on what I "did" to the bread. I admit I have a love for chemistry as well as an aversion to crumbly homemade bread. A couple years back I set out to find out the difference between homemade bread and store bought bread and see if I couldn't doctor up homemade bread to have a similar consistency to the store stuff while retaining the taste and nutritional value of homemade bread.

Long story short is that I have "discovered" a number of natural, and healthy, ingredients you can add to bread to alter the texture. Bread is one part science, one part art, and all living organism. Bread is really a giant yeast culture and your goal is to create a healthy environment for the yeast and to create a dough that compliments such as well as produces the results you want (which can vary depending on what bread you are making).

Anyhow, for the above recipe I added the following changes to the recipe we received from a friend years ago:

* 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin (added to the liquid ingredients).

* 3 Tbs. vital wheat gluten.

* A pinch of citric acid.

* A dash of ginger.

The whats and whys are as follow.

Lecithin: Lecithin is a natural chemical found in both plants and animals that makes up cell membranes. Unlike most emulsifiers lecithin is naturally metabolized and has a number of recognized positive health benefits. Why use Lecithin? There are too many to mention, but lecithin is a great binding agent, aids in the emulsification of the fats in the bread which, in turn, makes a more consistent crumb as well as helps the bread remains softer by retaining more moisture. A little bit goes a long way in making a great loaf of bread; some places recommends 1 1/2 tsp. per load but we have found as little as a 1/2 teas. works although your mileage may vary depending on your ingredients. Lecithin helps make you loaf lighter and stay fresher and is one of the two things I have found that can help give homemade bread a "store" texture without compromising the quality or nutrition of the load.

Gluten: Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat and is responsible for the elastic structure in bread that makes bread, well, bread! The general idea is that the gluten in bread forms long strands in your bread. The fats you adds to the bread help these gluten strands slide and stretch better (thus fluffier bread). Most flour has insufficient gluten so adding some gluten helps; even many "bread flours" (from high protein wheats like hard red spring wheat) can use a little help from some extra gluten--especially whole wheat varieties as the extra texture for the bran is a hindrance to forming an elastic loaf (ditto loads with some coarser grains added in for texture). Non-wheat breads made from soy flour, oat flour, etc. don't have gluten so adding some will help there as well. Gluten is natural as it is already in the wheat, but adding a small amount can compensate for low-protein flour as well as help a whole wheat bread gain the elastic texture that is typically associated with breads made from bleached non-whole wheat flours. Recipes and recommendations vary a lot on how much you should add so you may need to experiment. Gluten is sold as vital wheat gluten, gluten flour, etc and you will need to be mindful of how much portent is present as it can vary from 40%-80% (most in the low 70% range).

Citric Acid: A simple acid found in citrus fruits, the benefit of using citric acid (or ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C) is that it helps create a more acidic environment for the yeast and helps reduce oxidization. DON'T USE TOO MUCH! Someone in our home decided they wanted to be like the Mad Scientist of the house, invited company over, and tossed in a lump of this potent stuff into her (ahem!) pumpkin rolls. There is always a first time for everything, and that was the first (and hopefully last!) time I ever "get" to eat rolls that, uhhhm, taste like fresh lemon was squeezed on every bite! Btw, on the ascorbic acid, make sure you get pure powder and not something with a lot of fillers and binders. Also, you don't need much (1/32nd to 1/16th of a teaspoon) for your bread. MORE IS NOT BETTER! A little really does work--just check out the "bread machine yeast" at the store as it typically has ascorbic acid, and not very much at that. Yet a little bit will make for some happy yeast. :)

Ginger: Yep, the good ol' powdered ginger in your cupboard, is a nice dough enhancer. It is a mild preservative (like lecithin) but the big perk is that yeast love ginger. It gives them a nice kick start and can be thought of as yeast snack food. And while a dash won't be enough to actually taste it does help make a lighter, fluffier loaf of bread.

Lecithin, Gluten, Ascorbic/Citric Acid, and Ginger. That is all I added to the above loaf of bread and it changed the original recipe that has a grainier, crumbly crumb to a loaf that is lighter and fluffier and retained more moisture. They are all natural ingredients and I didn't need to touch any unpronounceable chemicals and "stuff" you cannot even purchase at a store to begin with. (We purchased the lecithin, vital wheat gluten, and citric acid at a bulk food store).

The neat thing about dough enhancers is that almost anyone who has ever made a loaf of bread has used some of some sorts. Bread of the yeast variety is just flour, water, and yeast. Everything else is a conditioner. Sugar is a dough enhancer as it is yeast food. Fats, like butter and vegetable oil, aid in elasticity and the moisture of the loaf. Eggs, among other things, contain a lot of lecithin. So if you feel a little awkward adding new ingredients to bread just remind yourself that almost everything in a load of homemade bread is in there to enhance the core ingredients to begin with.

There really is a science behind bread, everything from ingredients to the environment impact how bread turns out. I am continuing my experiments as there are a lot of natural conditioners out there... you can even use pectin and kosher gelatin for bread (and not just jam and jell-o).

With Tammy's new mill I am sure we will do a bit of experimenting with new recipes and conditioners. The above loaf is encouraging as the end result was really good--if I had not known it was 100% whole wheat I would have been very surprised when I found out.

What great information!

Thank you, Joshua, for that *very* informative post! I've been trying recipe after recipe, trying to find one that makes soft bread (to no avail).

Does it come out the same if it is baked in a bread machine versus the oven?

Tammy's picture

I think it totally depends

I think it totally depends on the bread machine you use. Ours doesn't bake well enough for my tastes, so I only use it to knead and rise the dough, and then I bake loaves in the oven. :)

Lilyofthevalley's picture

Thanks for sharing! When I

Thanks for sharing! When I made a batch of bread last Monday, I did put in lecithin for the first time. My mom uses it and her bread is really nice. Yes, it sure does make a difference! I will have to keep your post in mind the next time I bake bread. :) ~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

Shelby's picture

Looking forward to it :)

I am so looking forward to your altered recipe :). Your wheat bread has become The Recipe we use and even when we switched to home milled grains it is the recipe we've been using as our base. My first loaf was, as far as I was concerned, a complete failure ;). We ate it as toast but only because I was not wasting an entire loaf worth of grains! Last night was my fourth batch and it has GREATLY improved ;). Incidentally, I think your hubby and my hubby would get along great ;). We made bread together last night (he loves to cook) and in brainstorming he would keep asking me why I was doing this or that and my only answer was because that's how my mom said to do it or because the recipe said to raise it that long, etc ;). I had no idea there was a way to "know" when a loaf had raised long enough or needed more time, as you can imagine I was often lost when a recipe would supply a range instead of a specific time frame for raising. My method..."Yep, sure. Looks done"... ;). So, he would get on the computer and look it up. I prefer a more home-like type of bread as well but Lee would love a softer bread for his sandwiches, etc. He will love your hubby's comment above :). He has been researching those exact same things :). Now I can tell him the work has already been done for him ;).

Thanks!

Tammy thanks for sharing about your mill and your recipe. Joshua, THANKS for sharing all of your research- wow. I can't wait to order mine. My birthday is in July,and I usually don't do anything other than a dinner out, but this time I'm gonna get a mill. Who would have thought we would all be so excited about homemade bread and baked goods?! Mom my states that when she was a child in the 1950's her mother made sandwiches for them on homemade bread and she was sooo embarrassed because all of the kids were having store bought bread. Now as an adult she realizes how great they really had it.

So informative!

Thanks Joshua for that wonderful explanation. I was originally going to write and ask how you got the bread sliced so perfectly (did you just use a regular knife or electric knife) and I am guessing that part of the answer is the consistency of the bread.

Do health stores sell these things that you talked about or do you have to special order them? We have a Whole Foods as well as a Henry's (Farmer's market type store) here in San Diego, so I am guessing that might be where to find those ingredients.

Again, thanks for the post. Although I already have made your wheat bread my staple daily bread, it is one more step I can add to perfecting it even more.

Michelle

PS - Forgot to say congrats on your new mill! I am so excited for you!

Tammy's picture

I actually used a serrated

I actually used a serrated steak knife to slice the bread in the picture -- it was hot and we were hungry. :) There were very few crumbs, due to the dough conditioners. :)

Health food stores might have some of the conditioners, or bulk food stores. (I've never been to Whole Foods, so I can't say about them.) I'm sure if you can't find something locally, Amazon.com would carry it! :) 

Thanks Tammy!

I will definitely put that on my "project to try" list. : )

where do you buy soy

where do you buy soy lecithin?

Tammy's picture

Purchasing soy lecithin

At a bulk foods store or health food store... or through a local co-op. If you can't find it locally, I'll bet Amazon.com has it! :)

Is it a liquid or a powder

Is it a liquid or a powder form?

Tammy's picture

Our soy lecithin is

Our soy lecithin is granules... not a fine powder -- more like the look of dry powdered milk. :)

the crust...

I'm interested in knowing what the crust was like. Was it crisp out of the oven, then soft later like a commercial loaf?

Tammy's picture

Soft bread crust

I purposely tried to make the crust soft on this loaf. As soon as it came out of the oven, I buttered the top of the loaf. I left the loaf in the pan for 6 minutes after taking it out of the oven. Then I took it out of the pan, sliced some off for us to eat, and covered the rest in two layers of a clean towel so steam could escape without it drying out too much. The crust wasn't hard at all.

If I hadn't buttered the top, the top would have been crisper. Even crispy-crusted breads, when cool and bagged in plastic overnight, tend to get soft (the crust pulls moisture from the bread).

Looks good!

My husband like homemade bread with soups, but does not like the crumbly part of it for sandwiches. I have used the lecthin, but will try the others too. I wonder if it will make a difference. You mixed yours in your bread machine? About how long do you say you would knead it if you were using a mixer?

Tammy's picture

I mixed my bread dough in

I mixed my bread dough in the bread machine. It kneads for 25 minutes total, but the first 10+ minutes of that time, it is very slow. I have never used a mixer for kneading bread, so I have no idea how long it would take. Probably the normal time it would usually take you to knead a whole wheat loaf in there...

Bread

Hi Tammy! I say great minds think alike! ha ha...I made bread today too and it is so luscious and yummy. We have a Nutrimill which I love-but it is noisy. I have to warn everyone before I turn it on-it sounds like a jet engine-but for the wonderful result of freshly ground flour it is worth it. I also save any extra flour I don't use right away in a mason jar and freeze it so that it will preserve the nutrients. Then I can use it for small batches of things-pancakes-pizza dough, etc. Your blog has become one of my favorite sites-thanks so much for sharing every day!

Shelby's picture

MMMmmm....

Hubby and I tried your suggestions that very afternoon when we made bread and it came out perfect!!! We left out the lecithin as we didn't have any and we're cheap ;), we also used an additional Tablespoon of honey instead of the brown sugar and we cut the yeast down to 1 1/2 teaspoons. The difference was amazing!!! The loaf was *huge* compared to its usual size! We may try it with the lecithin someday but it came out just fine for us without it.
We also tried your granola recipe this last week, it was delicious as well! I left myself a note to leave a review when I get the chance :).
Thank you so much Tammy for the time you put into this blog. I think you would be surprised to know just what a help it has been to me in my homemaking. From sparking new ideas to giving me the boost I need to implement old ones, you're such a blessing :).

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