Milling Whole-Grain Flour

For my birthday, my folks gave me a Nutrimill grain mill! Immediately I ordered five pounds of hard winter red wheat from Bluebird Grain Farms. (A side note: this farm is in Washington State. I'm having trouble finding whole, un-milled grain from California. If anyone has a source, please let me know - I'd prefer local of course. Meanwhile, this family farm seems like a good place to spend my money.) 

I took my sourdough starter out of the fridge Friday morning and gave it three good feedings, and this morning it was extremely alive and active. So, it was time to mill some flour and get started!

You know me, often these projects get started at dawn, so forgive the light in these pictures. Here is my new mill:

This machine was pretty simple to figure out, though I had a little trouble with making sure the flour bowl fit correctly (for quite a while there was fine flour flying all over the kitchen. Say that five times fast). It took about three minutes to mill about six cups of grain. Each cup of grain makes roughly a cup and a half of flour. I needed 1000 grams for my bread recipe which was quite a lot. 

The grains are beautiful.

And the flour it produces is also beautiful. Thick, somehow wetter than flour you get at the store, and extremely soft. I'm not fond of the feeling of flour on my hands, but I didn't mind this stuff.

I ground the flour as fine as I possibly could. The recipe I'm using this weekend for my bread requires that you then sift it again, separating the finest flour from the rough bran. Then you soak the bran in boiling water and add it in after you've given your dough a bit of a rise. That way you don't 'cut' the delicate rise with the sharp shards of bran. But, of course, you still want the nutrition of the bran, so adding it in later serves both goals. It's a fussy recipe (you can find it here) but I'm hoping it will yield a superior loaf. We'll see.

I put the extra flour in a mason jar and in the freezer (along with the leftover grain) so that it doesn't spoil. As you probably know, once flour is milled, if the bran and kernel are not removed (in other words, whole grain flour), it can go rancid quickly. Plus, it can lose nutrition quickly. But, I wanted a little bit milled to feed my starter when it comes out of the fridge next Friday. I plan on baking bread every Sunday; therefore, the starter needs to come out and be fed several times before Saturday, when the grain will be milled, the dough mixed and risen, and then put in the fridge for a retarding phase. It's a long and drawn-out process; hopefully I will get it down to a streamlined routine that makes it easy. Good bread is worth it. And as Michael Pollan once said (I'm paraphrasing here), when it's time to make the bread, just make the bread. Meaning, this is one thing you can get a little 'zen' about - just be with the bread. Give it the time and attention it deserves. 

Maybe I've gotten a little too zen, but I think the layers in the flour are lovely.

Now, it's time to go 'be with the kitchen' and get it cleaned up.