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Using freshly milled flour in Sourdough

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For years now I have been baking sourdough regularly in my kitchen. A few years after starting my sourdough journey, I started milling my own wheat berries for flour and using it in all of my sourdough recipes. I have learned so much about how to use fresh flour in my sourdough recipes. I want to share some tips and tricks that will help you make the most delicious and nutritious bread there is!

Sourdough bread with wheat berries in the background

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Before we talk about using this flour in your sourdough baking, let’s talk about the different wheat berry varieties. The grain mill I use: https://collabs.shop/rxide2

There are 3 main categories of wheat berries:

  1. Modern wheat.
  2. Heritage wheat.
  3. Ancient wheat.

Let’s start with modern wheat varieties:

Wheat berries in a hand

Hard Wheat:

Hard wheat berries are used for bread products. It makes lofty loaves with great texture.

There are hard white and hard red. Let’s talk about hard red first.

When it comes to hard red wheat, it has so much flavor and makes bread taste amazing! It is also easy to work with. However, hard red is a bit heavy and will make a denser loaf if used alone.

The hard white wheat variety is much lighter than hard red. It’s also very easy to work with. However, it doesn’t lend that strong flavor of the hard red.

Soft wheat:

Soft wheat is best used for pastries and pie crusts and the like. It has a lower protein which makes for much softer baked goods. It’s not suited for sourdough or yeast breads.

Heritage wheat:

Heritage wheat varieties are those that have not been hybridized. Meaning, it’s in it’s original form and hasn’t been changed for growing purposes. This type of wheat can be easier to digest and often adds tremendous flavor to your baked goods.

Ancient Wheat:

The 3 that I have used in my kitchen are: Einkorn, Kamut, and Spelt.

Keep in mind, ancient wheat varieties have a weaker gluten structure and will behave differently from modern day wheat.

wheat berries in a wooden cup in hand

Considerations when using fresh milled flour in sourdough bread:

I am going to break this down into 3 tips/tricks you can use to be successful in baking sourdough with freshly milled flour.

  1. Soaking.

Freshly milled flour retains all the nutrients of the wheat berry. The germ and bran are in the flour, both of which can act as shards in the dough inhibiting the gluten production.

To combat this, I recommend soaking a portion of the flour in the water to soften the bran and germ.

This process will yield a softer loaf with a better rise.

I soak 3/4 the amount of flour the recipe calls for in all of the water for at least 30 minutes or longer.

sourdough starter bubbling in a glass jar

2. Kneading time.

In my experience, bread made with freshly milled flour requires a longer kneading time to achieve the proper texture and gluten production to make a soft loaf with a good rise.

I use a stand mixer, however, you can always knead by hand. I did for many years before I purchased a mixer. This is the stand mixer I use: https://collabs.shop/xmipvy

Kneading dough activates the gluten in the flour. Properly kneaded dough will be smooth and elastic.

If your dough breaks easily when stretched, knead longer.

I find it necessary to knead for at least 8-15 minutes to achieve this texture.

Risen dough in a bowl

3. Fermentation time.

Freshly milled sourdough tends to ferment more quickly than sourdough made with all-purpose flour.

With this in mind, it is important to learn the signs of fermentation. I always say it is better to slightly under ferment with fresh flour than over ferment.

The signs you are looking for are a dough that is springy and feels like it is full of air.

You will also sometimes see the bubbles rising to the surface of the dough.

This is the time you want to either bake the bread or move it to the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.

I find that with all-purpose flour, there is more leeway to the fermentation process.

Keep this in mind when proofing your sourdough made with freshly milled flour.

Sliced loaf of bread on cutting board

Using freshly milled flour in your sourdough baking makes for an incredibly delicious and nutritious loaf of bread.

Following just a few tips will make sure your loaves are successful.

I hope you found this information helpful if you are interested in transitioning your sourdough baking to fresh flour.

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  1. Do you need to soak the freshly milled flour for things such as zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, etc., or is this just for a loaf of bread?

  2. Do you have instructions for making a sourdough starter with freshly milled wheat with all the tips and tricks. I love your teaching style.

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