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.