Fresh Grain, Fresh Tricks

Although it has not been reflected in my recent posts here on Lost World, my discovery adventures with my new toy (a Wonder Mill grain grinder) have been continuing, and I’m learning all kinds of new things about working with fresh whole grains.  I’m definitely in my journeyman stage with the machine, and some of the lessons I’m learning are not the fun kind.

One particularly nasty one was learning that the lid of the collection bin on the machine MUST be firmly attached -until it audibly clicks closed- if one wishes to avoid having flour dust fill the air of your kitchen!  Not fun to clean up either.  But at least that’s the kind of lesson one learns fast.

I started with some very simple breads using the freshly ground grains.  My first was a 100% whole grain done wet enough to require a pan – I knew better than to try it as a free standing loaf, at least at this stage of my development.  I gave it a healthy dose of molasses, simply because I love whole wheat and molasses – I used what I know as a “hotel pan” – it came out splendidly.  Actually, I was a little surprised at the decent rise of the bread – I was expecting a somewhat lessened rise due to the anti-gluten nature of whole wheat, but it did quite well.  And we loved the taste.

I’ve now done four loaves from fresh grain, each with varying degrees of changes from each other -just kinda testing to see what happens.  I did a 50/50% , whole wheat/white wheat flour, banneton raised loaf, which for whatever reason, didn’t rise well.  Then I did another hotel pan, flat foccacia loaf, similar to my first, but with a 50/50% flour mix again – still didn’t rise as well as did the first 100 whole wheat.  Weird!  More tries are needed here to figure out why this is happening.

But today came my best effort yet – and so I thought I’d share it.  In addition to the bread itself, I’ve begun using a few other tricks that are making my baking easier or better – or both.  So I’ll toss them in here too.

Since I had buttermilk on the brain –from my last posting– I thought I’d slip some into a sourdough preferment, and let it do its thing at room temp for 8 hours or so, while I watched football Saturday.  I’m interested to see how this may affect the loaf, since the buttermilk has its own live cultures, and therefore, they’d be messing around in there with the sourdough beasties as well.  Well, they apparently all got along just fine with each other – in fact, they all quickly ate up all the sugars and carbs they could, and by the end of the eight hours, the rise was going flat – should have expected that.

I put the final dough together, and gave it a little time on the KA – I understand that freshly ground grain tends to accept more liquid than does older flour, but actually, at this early stage, I’m not sure what that translates to with my own doughs – all I can say is that I can make a very manageable dough with the fresh flour, and that it’s nice to work with.

I formed the boule and decided to use some whole bran in the banneton towel – if you’ve never tried this, it will never stick like white flour will, and I think it gives an unusual look to your loaf – try it – there is one downside though, the bran goes everywhere off the baked loaf, and can be a big cleanup mess.

I then took this loaf out to my outdoor deck, and slipped it into my BBQ grill for an overnight rise – it goes down to about 40 degrees F here these nights, so it’s pretty much like putting the loaf into your fridge.  A long, slow proofing at that temp can do wonders for a bread – and since I simply would never have room in my fridge for this, my outdoor grill solution works a charm.

This morning, I brought the loaf inside and let it continue proofing while the oven heated.  I decided to use the “Dutch Oven” baking technique that I first learned from Jim Lahey’s no-knead process, because it does some magic to the bread’s crust – and here’s another trick for you – I’ve always disliked that with Lahey’s dutch oven bakes, there was no way to control the way the loaf opened for a natural score, since you don’t give the loaf a blade score – you just toss the dough into the hot dutch oven, and it creates its own natural score – sometimes OK, sometimes not.

However, if you proof a boule in a banneton, you can then tip it out onto a piece of parchment, score it as you wish, and then lift it by the ends of the parchment and drop it into the hot dutch oven – this makes an impossible task into an easy accomplishment – another reason to have some baker’s parchment around.

So, how about the ultimate test – taste?  Given the buttermilk, the long preferment, and then the overnight proof, it’s no surprise that this one had a bit of a sharp bite – but a pleasant bite.  It did well as a breakfast partner with jam and coffee, but I think its best use would be as a serious sandwich bread – it’s a grownup loaf.  As you can see from my pic, it shares the common whole wheat characteristic of a dense crumb, since the ground up outer coat of the wheat kernel (commonly known as bran) create so many sharp little cutting points and edges that gluten simply doesn’t get a chance to develop.  Only way around this is to use a goodly proportion of white bread flour in your loaf.

I don’t have a recipe today, just a report on using fresh ground grain, and a few new tricks – hope there’s something helpful here for you.  Happy baking.

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About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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7 Responses to Fresh Grain, Fresh Tricks

  1. Glenn says:

    Nice looking loaf Doc! Although when I looked at my sidebar, with my failing eyesight I though it said- “Fresh Grain, Fresh Ticks”! I said, “My God what is he getting into now???”

    Hey if I don’t talk to you between now and Thursday, have great Thanksgiving and best wishes to you and yours. Glenn

  2. Doc, you’ve turned out a lovely loaf there! It’s so different baking with freshly ground flour, isn’t it? Completely different textured loaf, and often a tender, close crumb.

    I have a couple of friends who are millers, and both of them have told me that bakers flour needs to age for about six weeks after milling to be at its best – I can’t remember the reason why now, but I do know that when I’ve bought freshly milled flour, it’s never quite as lively or bouncy in dough as it is when it’s slightly aged. Of course, that’s all for commercial purposes, when they need the bread to rise consistently and quickly…

    • drfugawe says:

      Celia,
      Hummm! Thought I responded yesterday – could be another provider screw-up, or could be me forgetting again – i do that well.

      Thanks for this info C, ’cause I did not know that – although my experiences are beginning to tell me some. Seems like the gluten doesn’t develop as it should. But none of my doughs have been sticky. Nice taste however.

      That’s really interesting – most of the time I’m worried about my flour getting too old – now I can start worrying about it being too young. Ha!

  3. That is mysterious why the wholegrain one rises better than the 50/50 one… you’d have thought it would be the other way round. Did you mill both lots of flour for the 50/50 one? Maybe it’s that particular batch of grain is lower in glutenin?

    I must be brave one day and try baking bread in a pot. I bought a new cast iron pot just for doing it a while ago on sale, and I still haven’t got round to trying it. Do you think it gives a much better result than say using a bread stone, you said above it does something special to the crust. I thought it was mainly used when you couldn’t get your oven up to a really high temperature because you had a dodgy door seal or something like that… but seeing yours makes me think I am definitely missing something 🙂

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Jo,
      I’m finding baking with the fresh grain is a mysterious adventure! All kinds of strange things happening. No, I didn’t grind the white flour I used in the 50/50% bake – just used my everyday bread flour, which is a 14%er, so it should have gotten the gluten going!

      Yeah, you need to try out that dutch oven – my understanding is that it mimics the steam injector ovens by capturing the moisture inside the pot, which results in a crust that’s thin and crisp, rather than thick and hard as is so often the case with our “artisan” breads!

      In one of my pics above, you can see how thin the top crust is on that loaf – that’s because of the dutch oven!

      Try it.

  4. Pingback: Grapplestein Son of Oregon | Zeb Bakes

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