Using Fresh-Ground Whole Wheat Flour (and some highlights from our book tour)

scoopers-of-flour

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The flour on the left (the browner, coarser one) is an organic fresh-ground whole wheat.  On the right, the commercial whole wheat flour is obviously finer-ground and lighter in color (it’s the Dakota Maid brand, a very consistent and tasty product).  So many of you have asked about grinding your own wheat to make whole grain breads, that I decided to try it myself.

OK, I didn’t really grind it myself, I sourced fresh-ground wheat from Sunrise Flour Mill at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, next to the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis.  After Zoe and I did an event and booksigning there, Marty Glanville of Sunrise Flour came by to say hello.  She gave me a great home made whole grain bread to try, made from her fresh-ground whole wheat, and I was sold.  The flavor is, well, very fresh.

It’s not an absolute requirement for whole wheat bread, but here’s a little on my first experiments with this great flour.  Considering how different the fresh-ground product looked compared with commercial whole wheat, I was surprised at how easily this stuff was able to be used in our Master Recipe– with no changes.  After some whole wheat talk, a little about the West Coast leg of our book tour (Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco).  

whole-wheat-boule-cover

I loved the gorgeous whole wheat loaf that the fresh-ground flour made.  It developed a very firm and crisp crust (oftentimes, oils in the wheat germ make it difficult to get a crisp result on a whole wheat loaf).  The flavor was terrific– the difference from commercial flour was subtle, but very nice.  It had a certain brightness and sweetness, which was a neat trick since there were no added sweeteners.  I used our plain Whole Grain Master Recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

The big surprise was that this coarse, fresh-ground flour had almost exactly the same density (ounces per cup) as the commercial whole wheat in the top picture– it weighed in at 4 3/4 ounces per cup, while the Dakota Maid weighed 4 1/2 ounces per cup.  So I was comfortable just swapping it in exactly for commercial whole wheat flour. The resulting dough was a touch wetter than my usual, but I just ignored it (in the first book we said “… if you worry about the bread, it won’t taste good”).

But be careful:  Your own fresh-ground may be of a different density and you may need to adjust the liquid up or down, to achieve a result like you see in our videos for the whole grain breads.  If you want to use these great flours, be prepared to experiment.

Why the wetter result, even though this flour’s a little denser? Makes sense to me–it’s more coarsely ground despite being denser, and those larger particles present less surface area for water to bind onto and absorb.  Or something like that.  Next book we should write “… if you turn this into chemistry, you may not have any fun.”  And even though this dough was a little wetter, it held its shape nicely through a 90-minute counter-rest under plastic wrap, and slashed well with a bread knife (see our videos for more details on forming and slashing):

slashed-boule

The result was great:  a superior whole grain crust and a terrific flavor:

sliced-bread

I’m going to post more about the dough that this flour made in the next 10 days, to see how well it stores compared to commercial whole wheat flour.

OK, on to the book tour. After we got back from Chicago and Milwaukee, where we were on WGN-TV, taped a podcast with ABC-TV’s Steve Dolinsky, and did two TV segments in Milwaukee (WITI-TV Fox and TMJ-TV NBC), we had a couple of days home with our families before heading off to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.  There were many book signings along the way.

In Seattle, we appeared on Channel 13′s morning show (we’ll hopefully get that video clip), in a great segment with budding home baker and news anchor Mark Wright (on left).  Co-anchor Lily Jang (right) wasn’t in our segment (OK, this picture was staged):

q13-news

In San Francisco, we were on a live studio-audience broadcast of KGO-TV (ABC-7)’s “The View From the Bay,” with hosts Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang, who helped us mix the Whole Grain Master Recipe.  They gave us enough time for Zoe to form a 100% whole wheat Holiday Stollen.

When we weren’t working (which was almost never), we were eating.  A sample platter:

At Tom Douglas’s Serious Pie in Seattle, we tried the beet salad with anchovy, pistachios, and fresh mint:

beet-salad

… and then the guanciale and arugula pizza. Though you can’t see it, there’s an egg cracked onto the top of the pie before baking, and it was sublime.  This may look like salad sitting on top of a pizza crust, but it was perfect:

pizza-w-arugula

I met Tom at the Foodportunity event in Seattle and asked him if we could try to recreate this topping  for our next book (on pizza and flatbread, in 2011).  Answer was something along the lines of yes, but we’re not giving you our crust recipe!  Fair enough.  Now where do we find that guanciale (a very fatty and crazily delicious pork product)?

This trip was a joy because we got to sit down and eat with some wonderful people in the food and food-blogging world.  Come visit all these great people and hear what they’ve been cooking:

www.foodista.com

http://inerikaskitchen.blogspot.com

http://www.theculinarylife.com/

http://danicasdaily.com

… and so many more.  It was great to have met you all.  On to Boston and Orlando, and then maybe that’s it for a while?

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

268 thoughts on “Using Fresh-Ground Whole Wheat Flour (and some highlights from our book tour)

  1. Hello Jeff & Zoe,

    I have loved each recipe I have tried from both of your books. It makes dinner so easy to prepare having dough in the refrigerator ready to go!

    I have a question though, I do grind my own wheat berries. I use Spring white hard wheat berries. Any dough I make with the whole wheat flour discolors on top after a day or two in the refrigerator. It’s like a weird gray color. I would guess from oxidation?? I don’t know. I have tried keeping the lid on tight, slightly open and just sitting on the bucket with and it always discolors on top. I usually just scrape off the top that is discolored and the dough works fine underneath.

    I was wondering if you might know what I might be doing wrong, or what I could try to avoid this (I hate wasting the dough).

    Thanks,

    Carrie

    • Carrie: That color is typical in longer-stored doughs, but I haven’t heard of it this early. I’m guessing that it is a difference with fresh-ground wheat (though I didn’t see it when I used fresh-ground wheat from a miller). I am guessing that you don’t even need to scrape it off. Just use the dough as always.

      And if you see patches of color on the dough surface, either light or dark, fuzzy or not, that could be mold and it has to be discarded. A uniform dark color is not mold. Sometimes dark liquid collects above the dough, that’s fine too. Just pour it off.

      On way to get less of this; store in a taller, thinner container and there’ll be less exposed surface. Jeff

  2. I saw that someone else already asked this question but I feel really stupid but I didn’t quite get the response. I purchased the Cambr6qt plastic storage container. Do I just “place” the lid on top or do I snap it shut. Your book states it should not be “airtight.” Would snapping it shut be considered “airtight?” When I just place the lid over the top it’s sort of cockeyed and has some gaps so air gets in the container.

  3. In The King Arthur’s WHole Grain Baking book some recipes call for potato flour to soften/moisten the dough as well as dry milk powder. Could those products be incorporated into your Healthy Bread recipes?

  4. I like using whole wheat because of its health benefits but frankly I don’t care for the taste of whole wheat flour. In the King Arhtur’s Whole Grain Baking they use orange juice to lessen the tannic taste of the whole wheat. Can I use orange juice in your recipes?

    • Julissa: For some plastic containers, snapping it shut does produce an airtight seal. So for the 1st 48 hours, I leave mine open a crack. Sounds like yours is not airtight and you can probably leave it snapped.

      We use a little dry milk powder in a few recipes; its main function is to tenderize whole grain loaves. As for potato flour– have to admit, we’ve never tested with it. But– we do find that using mashed potatoes in recipes adds moisture, so you’re probably on the right track. Check out our potato recipes in both books. I would guess that you can use potato flour with similar effect; let us know what you find if you give this a shot.

      Orange juice and other fruit juices work nicely in bread recipes, you can give this a try. Haven’t tested the threshold of what’s “too much” OJ, but we use as much as 3 cups of sweeter juices (like prune) in some of our recipes in “Healthy Bread.” My guess is that you have to go easier with OJ, it can be sour in cooked foods. Jeff

  5. I made the 10-grain bread today. I had to substitute some of the ingredients in the Bob’s 10-grain cereal as I can’t have soybeans, or flax-I used some brown rice flour, buckwheat, and coconut flour. I grind my own wheat, using white wheat, and I used bread flour in place of the all-purpose flour.
    The loaf after baking was just a tiny bit bigger than the loaf before baking-I weighed the dough before baking and it was 1lb. How big is the loaf supposed to be after baking?? I did the elongated shape, and baked it on a baking stone. It tastes good, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t a bigger loaf.
    Do you think the substitutions I made might have affected the end result??
    Do you have any suggestions of how to get a bigger loaf??

    Thank you for your help.

    • Rochelle: I’m guessing that the dough was too dry for our approach– you can’t just swap bread flour because that absorbs much more water than AP. You could try this again, using about 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water.

      Our method depends on “oven spring” for its rise, more so than traditional dough. The dry dough didn’t help here. However, that said— don’t expect exhuberant rise during “proofing” with our method. Measure your oven temp with a thermometer– if it’s hot enough, you’ll get better oven spring. Jeff

  6. Thank you Jeff….I didn’t realize the bread flour would absorb more water, and I’ll check my oven temp too-I appreciate your help!! I’ll let you know how the next batch turns out!!

  7. Just discovered your books today… went and picked up the Healthy Breads one because I couldn’t wait to have it delivered. :) I am getting ready to make my first batch in a few minutes… came online to see if there were any more tips on high elevation. I now live at almost 8,000 feet (Rocky Mtns) and so far, my bread baking has not gone well. I will admit that I was hoping for more information in the book on higher elevation bread-making. :(

    In regards to home milling, I have the Wolfgang mill (gorgeous appliance!) and I LOVE grinding my own wheat. Mine grinds it much finer that the photo you showed… mine ends up looking no different than store-bought WW flour, but the aroma is a M-A-J-O-R difference!! Fresh ground WW flour has a pleasant aroma that puts the cardboard-smelling store-bought version to SHAME!! I’ve also read how fresh ground retains the nutrients much better than flours that have had a shelf life.

    I am eager to see how your technique will help me – I’m very excited!

  8. I made the garlic knots from your new book and they were good but the garlic was too brown. I think I may have chopped it too fine or cooked it too long in the olive oil. I added parsley but left off the cheese. I was wondering if they would be good using butter instead of the olive oil. I think they would be good done with the basic recipe from the first book too and I am going to try that. I love your books and haven’t bought any bread since I got the first book over a year ago.

    • Bonnie: Maybe your oven’s too hot, have you checked w/thermometer? Butter should be good too but won’t help the over-browned garlic problem. Jeff

  9. I got the thermometer back when I bought your book, the stone, etc. The oven isn’t too hot. I never have a problem with your bread and I did make the bialy’s with garlic and they were fine.
    I chopped the garlic in my little Cusinart chopper so maybe it was just chopped too fine. I chopped by hand for the bialy’s.

  10. I use my own home-milled flour, and have for years. I just weighed a cup of my flour and it is 5.1 oz, and I made a “trial” batch of dough. It looks drier. How much should I try increasing liquids by? I’m an “old hand” at breadmaking the old fashioned way, but I’m used to kneading so am unsure what to do with this dough. My flour, however, is by and large very fine–finer than store-bought whole wheat flour. I use white wheat.

    • Michelle: Try an extra quarter-cup of water per batch and see what you think. Increase to 1/2 cup if it’s not enough. Jeff

  11. I just came upon your books and I am excited to get started. I have a question. . .The Whole Grain Garlic Knots in the HB p64 has cheese in the ingredients, but not mentioned anywhere in the recipe. Is that for dipping later, or do you top with cheese after the drizzled oil mixture?

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for giving the book a try. The cheese is meant to be sprinkled over the knots before they are baked. Thank you for catching that and we’ll add it to the error page.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  12. Hi Jeff & Zoe, I LOVE you recipes! Thank you so much for making that first one available on youtube.com. I am really into homemaking and preparedness. I like to learn about healthy grains and so I was excited to buy your 2nd book this holiday season. I have been telling ALL my friends and teaching them how to make it. They are so impressed with the great bread and they keep asking me for recipes. I am grateful that you have provided the two master recipes on your website, so I feel okay about sharing those, but what should I do about someone who is excited, but not yet ready to buy your book? Can I share your other recipes too?
    Thanks,
    Ellen

    • Ellen: Please “share” them by referring people to this website or to the books themselves. Word of mouth is everything for us, people doing what you are doing is exactly what has made our books a success. So thank you! Jeff

  13. I’m using stone ground flour from locally grown and locally milled wheat. It’ very coarse and I’ve had to add more than half again as much flour (an additional 2 3/4- 3 cups), so I added a little more wheat gluten, yeast and salt. I know I’m measuring correctly, but when I made the Volkornbrot, the dough simply didn’t rise much at all. (I’m using a larger non stick pan–9×5) The taste is great, but it’s a very flat loaf. Should I increase the resting time–or perhaps increase the amount of flour?
    Thanks. I love the technique and want to be able to use this terrific locavore flour.

    • Hi Merri,

      How much additional Vital Wheat Gluten are you adding to the bread? The extra gluten will help the dough hold its shape and give it additional structure so it will rise better. You may also need to increase the water because it absorbs lots of water. If your dough is too dry it will not rise well because the gluten will not have enough hydration to form.

      Let me know if that helps or even makes sense? ;)

      Zoë

  14. Maybe a challenge…..!
    I love Natural Ovens brand “Hunger Filler” bread, but live in an area that no longer carries it (and, it’s probably like $4+ a loaf!) Now that I know how to make great bread, how can I make a similar kind? The ingredients are as follows (and why vinegar in the recipe?): whole wheat flour, filtered water, rolled oats, ground flaxseed, vital wheat gluten, brown sugar. Contains 2% or less of the following: sunflower seeds, wheat fiber, sunflower oil, inulin, yeast, soy lecithin, sea salt, barley malt powder, cultured wheat starch, vinegar, ascorbic acid, enzyme blend (wheat flour, dextrose, natural enzymes), sesame seeds.
    http://www.naturalovens.com/Shop/Bakery/Breads/Hearty_&_Satisfying/Hunger_Filler_Bread.html

    And lastly, I also LOVE Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread, but can’t keep paying nearly $6 a loaf for it! It’s a flourless, sprouted grain bread, high in protein and fiber (4g protein and 3g fiber per 34g slice). The ingredients are sprouted 100% whole wheat, water, sprouted barley, sprouted millet, malted barley, sprouted lentils, sprouted soybeans, sprouted spelt, yeast, and wheat gluten. Or, do you have a simliar recipe in your HB5M (I’m hoping to add this to my AB5M soon!)
    http://www.foodforlife.com/sprouted-grain-difference/ezekiel-4-9.html

    • Hi Yvonne,

      I think you will love Betsy’s seeded Oat Bread on page 147. We use lots more seeds and a wider variety of them, but you can use just sunflower and adjust the amount to taste, just no more than what the recipe calls for.

      Neither of us has experimented with sprouted grains yet, but there has been lots of requests for it.

      Thanks! Zoë

  15. Thanks Zoe! I just want to tell you and Jeff a very sincere thank you for your books. I had a “hate relationship” with yeast…I never could seem to get it right. Now, I actually *like* to bake breads because they always turn out delicious with minimal fuss. I just made the chocolate bread recipe, using the muffin tins, and I think I like it better than chocolate *cake*!!! THANK YOU BOTH for making baking bread fun and easy, as it should be!!!!

  16. I made the yogurt spelt bread from HBi5 today and used fresh ground spelt flour, ground in my Vita Mix blender with the dry blade. The dough was really wet and I couldn’t figure out why….now I know. Nevertheless, I baked them as rolls and they were very light and rose well. I’ll adjust the amount of flour next time.

    I had the same grayish layer on the top of my six-day-old milk and honey bread and I didn’t use freshly ground flour for that. It’s happened before when I’ve soaked flour for muffins or pancakes in yogurt or buttermilk.

    Finally, Cathie wrote early on about adding vinegar to replace some of the water and not using salt to help with phytic acid. Cathie, if you’re reading this, why is it important to leave out the salt?

    • Hi Sandra,

      I’m so glad that your bread tasted great! That recipe is very wet to begin with so you may have to add even more of the fresh ground flour. Here is a list of the errors we have found in the book and that recipe happens to be one of the few: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=73

      The grayish layer happens on all of the doughs if it has been inactive for a time. It is the same process that happens to a sour dough starter and is completely normal. The liquid that forms as well is also normal. If you are using a dough with eggs or dairy you want to freeze after the amount of storing time has elapsed, but non-enriched doughs can live a long time in the refrigerator.

      Thanks, Zoë

  17. I have made two batches of the 100 % whole wheat bread on page 79, while the flavor has been wonderful, the dough seems almost grainy with no elasticity. I thought maybe it was too wet and tried adding more flour, it did not seem to help, it does not rise in the oven. When I made the next batch I weighed everything, same results. I love making bread, what am I doing wrong. I am using Hodgson Mill 100% Stone Ground whole wheat flour. I am trying not to handle it too much but the tops are never smooth as with other dough so I might be!?

    Thanks,
    Christi

    • Hi Christi,

      When you added more flour was it after the dough had risen and was refrigerated or was it right as you were mixing the initial dough? Our doughs are quite wet, but after the initial rise and some refrigeration the flour will absorb the water.

      I think the graininess that you had is due to the type of flour and not the wetness. Some whole wheat flours are ground courser than others and will have a very different feel to them. You can try adding a touch more vital wheat gluten to the next batch, but it will require also adding a couple more tablespoons of water to compensate.

      I suggest you try some flatbreads with your remaining dough from the batch that is too dry. They will be very tasty and you will not perceive the denseness in the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. Thanks Zoe, I will try some flat breads. I added the flour after it had risen and had been in the refrigerator a couple of days, then I let it sit a couple of hours on the counter and then over night in the fridge. It feels really wet but it doesn’t have any type of elasticity to it like on your videos. I’ll play with it and maybe try a different flour.

    Thanks,
    Christi

  19. Hi! I am wondering about sprouted flours. I have whole wheat sprouted flour and I’m wondering if I can use it in your master recipe. I would also like to know if it’s OK to store the bread dough in a stainless steel bowl. Thank you!

    :) Margee

    • Margee: Stainless is fine…

      I’m sure sprouted WW would work well in our first book’s recipes, where WW makes up a relatively low proportion of the total flour. As for the 2nd book, I think you need to experiment; I’m guessing it will work. Jeff

  20. Ok, last night i made the dough for your 10 grain bread and noticed it said 3.5 cups of water rather than the 4 that the master recipe calls for. So i added the 3.5 cups of water and after the 2 hour rise it looked awesome so i put in fridge to make after school. Well today, it was as solid as a brick… Something went wrong. It seems that my bread never turns out. Either due to elevation at 4600 feet or just bad yeast or something. hahah thanx Jeff and Zoe

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for letting us know. What kind of 10 grain cereal are you using? I wonder if some of them have some grains in them that are thirstier than others and result in a dry dough? If you still have some of the dough left you can just add some more water and let it sit to soften up the remaining dough.

      Have you read the info we have on high altitude baking? Some people have to make some alterations to the dough to get a nice loaf at that elevation. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=144

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. Zoe, thanx for the reply. I am using Bobs red mill since it is readily available at some of my stores around here.

    I wondered the same thing about the cereal because it just drank the water up like it was nothing. i did bake it though. Just didnt have any oven spring and it was way dense. Good eats though with butter and honey.

    I have now read your high altitude advice. Looks as if i will decrease yeast a we bit and add a lil more water to make a stickier dough. I was thinking of trying to add a 1/2 cup honey and 3.25 cups water? give it a lil sweetness and more liquid as well. All i know is it soaked up all the water like a dang sponge. haha

    thanx for the advice. Let me know what you think about the honey idea!!

    Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      I think the honey will be very tasty. Just keep in mind that honey will feed the yeast and make it very active, which could add to the problems of high altitude baking. If you add the honey, you may want to do the refrigerator rise to slow down the yeast.

      Thanks, Zoë

  22. Hahaha. dang. Is that with any bread that contains honey? IE, the100% whole wheat plain and simple with the honey variation. My first issue before i worry to much bout high altitude is the water issue. Not all flour is created equal. So maybe bobs 10 grain cereal is the same way. Some days it feels it needs more water and other days it doesnt. haha.

    thanx Zoe..

    Matt

    oh by the way. i have told many many people about yours and jeffs books. I even go to my friends local bakehouse now and discuss it with him.

    • Hi Matt,

      Any breads with sweetener will get the yeast all excited, so you may want to experiment with a loaf that has lots of honey and one that has little or none and see if that makes a difference?

      Thanks for spreading the word! :) Zoë

  23. Hey Zoe.

    Thanx for the help and replies. Im going to do some experimenting with the light whole wheat from the first book. I will use 1 cup bobs red mill 10 grain cereal rather than one cup whole wheat all purpose flour that the book calls for. I will also cut the yeast back. Then i will try it again but this time using bread flour instead of unbleached AP flour. And at any time the dough looks like it is drinking all the water i will add a lil more to it

    thanx

  24. I have broken two stones and am wondering what I am doing wrong? They are from Pampered Chef and they say the preheating and water maybe ruining the stone. I am looking for a different brand or what would I ask for at a building store? I love the bread and havent boughten a loaf since I received the recipe. Please help!

  25. Lolly,

    I have the pampered chef stone and have been using it for the last 2 years. It has worked great for me. So it cant be the preheat and water. If anything a full cold stone placed in a hot oven would be more damaging. Its like cooking a frog. haha. A frog in boiling water will jump out but if you slowly heat up the water he wont jump out.

    same principle. haha.

    • Hi Lolly,

      The only time I’ve heard of this happening is when the broiler pan for the water is placed too close to the stone. They need to be at least 4-5 inches apart.

      Thanks, Zoë

  26. Your bread recipes in “Mother Earth News” Jan2010, have inspired me to bake bread once again, it has been years since I have baked any bread. I do not know what pizza peel is and is the seed mixture something that can be purchased or is it simply a mixture of seeds that I like and mix together?
    Thanks

  27. Zoe, So i tried the light whole wheat recipe from the first book but instead of using 1 cup whole wheat i used the following:

    5 cups unbleached AP flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat( i ran out of AP flour. had to make do)
    1 cup bobs red mill 10 grain cereal

    added maybe a tblsp extra of water and it worked AMAZINGLY.. Now if i can buy a steamer oven so i can get a chewy crust like a bagel. That would be awesome.. haha

    thanx Zoe and jeff for the help.

  28. Thanx jeff. Im diggin the dutch oven style. I have like 5 cast iron ovens. Cant live in utah and not dutch oven. hahah But like i said my dutch ovens are thick cast iron… Might have to buy one that looks like the one in the article.

    Cant wait now to try this idea..

  29. I bought your first book before I realized it wasn’t whole grain and was wondering how hard it would be to convert the recipes to whole grain. I grind my own flour and often have to do this with recipes. (of course I often have a lot of guess work to do that would be taken out with the other book. I’m just really excited to get started)

    • Kccaarin: Thanks for hanging in there with us. Keep in mind that grinding your own introduces uncertainty in measurement amounts. You may not be quite as lucky as I was in this post, in terms of the fresh-ground product behaving just like commercial whole wheat. Come back anytime you have questions. Jeff

  30. Hi!
    I recently bought the HBin5 book, and have tried quite a few of the recipes – and they’re all great!
    My question-can I use King Arthur’s Harvest Grains blend in place of the ten-grain hot cereal? I can’t seem to find it anywhere that I shop. Or is there a recipe that I could use it in?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Kathi,

      I have never tried it, but other readers have and really liked the results. If you do try it please let us know what you think!

      Thanks, Zoë

  31. Just out of curiosity, what kills ovenspring? For example, i made a batch of the light whole wheat bread in the first book. But i added half a cup of honey and reduced the water by half a cup. I let it rise and double. and put it in the fridge for a few days. Shaped the dough and put it in a loaf pan let it rise for 1.5 hours or more till it filled 3/4ths of the loaf pan. Baked it and it was the same size when it was done as when it finished rising. Literally no oven spring. Maybe the cup of 10 grain cereal or the honey killed the oven spring. hahaha

    thanx.

  32. On the Bavarian Style Whole Grain Pumpernickle Bread. How wet should the dough be? It was not sticky at all and the bread was a bit dense but it was still delicious. Is this normal or do I need to make a wetter dough. I know flours can dry out so sometimes you need to add more water. I have no problems with the original master recipe in the first book. That dough is quite wet compared to the pumpernickle recipe.

    • Jackie: Should be pretty damp, don’ t know why you’re not getting that, but flours differ and sometimes we never figure it out. Are you using bleached flour for the white (doesn’t work).

      Wet it down a bit and you should be happier. Jeff

  33. I LOVE your book: HBin5
    I just started using it two weeks ago and bought a ton of organic whole wheat flour from the bulk isle…it definitely looks more like the fresh ground stuff you posted above.
    I am having two problems with it…
    First, I have not once gotten an elastic dough. I can just scoop my dough out with my hand and when I try to mold it, it just falls apart instead of creating a shape. I am having trouble deciding if it is too wet or too dry.
    Second, when I bake the dough it has filled the entire house with the smell of vinegar, every time! I have tried the Master Recipe, the Soft Whole Wheat Loaf, and the Whole Wheat Brioche, and all three smell like vinegar (I have tried baking with and without the stone in the oven and it is not the stone). The flavor is also very sour-dough-like. Is this supposed to be like that? I don’t mind the flavor but the smell is truly horrible!
    What do I do?!
    Thanks so much for your books and website. Despite all the experimentation, I am having a lot of fun!

    • Silenia: Our stuff develops sourdough characteristics with storage, but it sounds like that’s a flavor that’s not to your liking. Maybe shorter storage times? Freeze the dough if you don’t use it within 48 hours? Break it up into loaf-sized pieces before freezing.

      About elasticity with the flour you describe– all I can say is that you need to experiment. Unlike commercial flour, these fresh-ground products are highly, highly variable. I’m guessing that it has to be drier, but it’s not really possible for me to be sure based on what I know. See what you think as you experiment. Jeff

  34. I recently attended a video seminar on the health benefits of freshly ground flour. Do you have any information about the loss of nutrients after wheat is ground into flour. According to this lady nutrients are lost through oxidation. So much so that after 24 hours 50 percent of the good stuff is gone and after 3 days 90 percent. I would just like to verify this information as I find your method very much to my liking. According to the information I got I need to bake my bread the same day I grind the flour to keep the nutrition in it. I’m kinda bummed about that. Any information you have would be fantastic. Thanks in advance.

    • Gretchen: I’m not finding enough credible science on this subject to make a recommendation one way or another. All I can say for sure is that I liked the flavor of the really fresh stuff, though to be honest, not enough to invest in the grinder or find an economical source for fresh-ground flour (you probably won’t find such a thing– it would be an expensive proposition; the only economical way to do this would be to grind your own).

      Sorry I can’t be a bigger help– I’m really skeptical about the health claims being made. I recently pulled a paper, and all the references were 15 years old– that’s a red flag that the authors have an axe to grind and can’t find any recent research to back up their claims. Jeff

    • Hi Gretchen,

      Many commercial flours add nutrients back into the flour because of the issues you are talking about. I’m not sure if the numbers you heard are accurate, but I am certain that using whole grains are still much healthier for you than white flours, if for the bran alone.

      Perhaps Jeff can add more to this?

      Thanks, Zoë

  35. I have read that whole grains and flours are rendered much more nutritious if soaked prior to use. This neutralizes phytic acid which “binds” many of the grains nutrients so the human body can’t access them. My question: does the wet-dough method, with dough stored til needed, effectively provide the same effect as soaking? I am wondering if there is sufficient acid in most recipes to accomplish soaking (or does it develop as the yeast works?) and secondly, if the grain continues the soaking process while the dough is refrigerated – or whether it would be better (assuming there is sufficient acidic value) to leave the dough at room temperature a little longer to maximize nutrient value?
    I love your book – have always enjoyed baking bread but it was a time-consuming pastime. Got ABin5 for Christmas and my family has eaten home-cooked bread probably 60% of the time since then. Maximizing the nutrition in my home cooked bread is just icing on the cake!
    (I mean, brioche :-)).
    Thanks for your work.

    • Nina: The science on the importance of phytic acid, soaking techniques, and nutrient content is far from clear, especially for people who get an otherwise balanced diet. I just don’t know how to answer.

      But yes, from what I’ve read, what we do sounds like it might accomplish something similar to soaking. I would guess that the process continues in the fridge. And no harm in leaving it at room temp a little longer, so long as it’s not an egg-based dough.

      Thanks for trying the method! Jeff

  36. Thanks for the response, Jeff.
    It does seem to me, as someone who cooks from scratch a lot and who generally avoids most highly processed foods that perhaps soaking flour is one ‘healthy food obsession’ too many! So if you’re finding the science is unclear, I think I’m happy to keep bumbling along as our forebears mostly have – soaking some stuff, not soaking others, by happenstance through following the recipe. Interesting to think that – if there is something to the phytic acid claim – your method may enhance nutrition. Meanwhile, I’m confident it’s feeding my family well – because they’re eating it, I get to know what went into it, and it’s nice and fresh!
    I hope you succeed in pushing the envelope on a DIY cooking revolution.
    Cheers,
    Nina

    • Thanks for the kind words, Nina. This field is a mixture of science, tradition, and hopefully flavor. It’s hard to know exactly the right path. To my surprise, most readers of the 2nd book seem to get that, as you do. Jeff

  37. Oh, dear, I hope you can help me! I’m using freshly ground hard white wheat flour with unbleached a-p, and the gluten strands in the dough just don’t seem to be there (better in the second batch after decreasing a-p flour, but nothing like your video), so that makes me think the dough is too dry. But when it rests for 90 min, it spreads quite a bit and there are pretty large “craters” on the surface of the loaf, so that makes me think the dough’s too wet!
    :-) I’m going to persevere- this is SUCH a great concept, but do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!

    • Carole: All bets are off with fresh-ground wheat, you never know how finely ground and what its water-absorbing capacity is going to be. Keep experimenting until you have a wet dough that holds a shape as a free-form. Too wet and it spreads sideways… too dry and it doesn’t store well, and in general, is a dry result with little rise.

      Most important, don’t expect much “stranding” if you’re using more than 50% whole grain flour. Bran and germ interfere with that; you may be happier with bread baked in a loaf pan with this particular flour. Spreading becomes a non-issue. Jeff

  38. Thanks, Jeff! BTW, the first loaf from the second batch has cooled and is definitely better in terms of internal structure.

    It was great to get such a quick reply- thank you!

  39. We have both your books now and we love them! We are so thankful to have fresh baked bread on a regular basis and your method is so easy! Artisan bread used to be a special treat, but now we have it all the time! (our waistlines do not thank you! haha) Our goal now is to figure out which WW bread recipe we want to use as our everyday sandwich bread.
    So far, I have only tried two of the whole wheat recipes (and I will continue to experiment) but I wanted to note my techniques and results compared to others. So first thing I should mention is that I am using fresh ground whole wheat flour that I am grinding from hard red spring berries. I grind it in my vitamix using the dry blade container and my flour turns out very soft & fine, not coarse at all. I used to buy hard red winter berries, but I thought I read that artisan bakers like the spring berries better. Now I found an article that contradicts that so I am wondering what other people are using and what their results have been. I noticed a lot of people mentioned their dough being too wet, but I would say my dough is running on the dry side. I believe the hard red spring berries have a much higher protein content( as much as 15%) which I thought would mean I would get those nice gluten strands, but that’s not the case.
    The first loaf I tried was the master recipe from HBin5. It turned out okay; the flavor wasn’t bad, but the loaf didn’t look like it should. Not a lot of spring, very hard crust, but a dense, moist interior. Then I realized I baked it at the wrong temp; 450 instead of 350. Could that have been the only problem? Also, I did add some harvest grains from KAF (which we think are a great addition to any loaf) but I didn’t soak them first since the dough would rest in the fridge for days. Could they have soaked up too much moisture?
    The second loaf I tried was from ABin5 and it was the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. This one I cooked at the right temp and the only adjustment I made was that I ran out of honey so I used agave in place of the honey. Normally if I use agave in place of honey, I use less because I think it has a much sweeter taste. This dough really looked a lot like my first WW dough and was also on the dry side. It did not rise much at all, but expanded sideways, and NO spring. When I took it out of the oven, it truly looked like a brick. BUT, after it cooled, we sliced it to see how the inside was and how it tasted. The inside was not real moist, not too dry, but very crummy, and tasted AWESOME!!! It really has such a great flavor that I have to figure out what is going wrong in my kitchen so this can become our everyday sandwich bread. It is a little sweeter than I would expect a WW bread to be, but that could be the agave.
    Also, our elevation is 4300 and we haven’t needed to make any high altitude adjustments for any of the other loaves.
    So, I guess I would be interested to hear what type of wheat berries others are using, and what adjustments they have made. The 100% WW sandwich bread does not call for VWG; should I still add some? Since my dough is running dry, should I just increase water?

    • Hi Melanie,

      Have you tried any of the 100% WW doughs from HBin5? The addition of Vital Wheat Gluten is going to help you a lot when using freshly ground wheat and at the high altitude. You may even want to add a couple more tablespoons to the dough and increase the water slightly.

      Add the the harvest grains without adding additional water will make for a dry dough. You will either want to soak them first or add a bit more water to your dough.

      The agave is a fine substitute for honey in our recipes.

      Let me know if any of this helps! Thanks, Zoë

  40. If you’re working on flatbreads from around the world, please include Totopos from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Oaxaca, Mexico – the town of Juchitan, perhaps) These are corn based, flat, fat free, and wonderful. My father-in-law wraps up a suitcase size full of them whenever he visits from Mexico and passes them out to the syblings who fight over them, then attempt to hide them from the rest of the family. They last forever and are simply reheated to their crispiness when ready to consume. I don’t know where my husband hid the last ones, but he’s snuck a few out as a treat for over a year now.

    • Hi Carol,

      Yes, in order to be able to store the whole grain doughs for more than 2-3 days you have to boost the VWG or the breads will be much too dense.

      Thanks, Zoe

  41. I love your Healthy Bread cookbook. I do have a question. On page 109 there is a recipe for Craccked Wheat Bread. The recipe calls for 4 cups of white whole wheat flour and 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour. However, in your intro to the recipe, you note” “By blending crunchy cracked wheat with white whole wheat and traditional whole wheat…”. So, am I supposed to be using unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour? Help!

    Many thanks,
    Sandee

  42. I am enjoying experimenting with recipes. Tried first loaves from video while waiting for book to arrive. Great success as far as the look and taste test goes, but it was probably good that I dont get stressed by differences. The last of the dough from the fridge was really wet on the bottom. I just worked it together a bit before flouring and shaping. I would encourage everyone to not get stressed by anything that seems different to what you expected. Just adjust a bit next time.
    And as for rreally exact measures – well I now realise that our Aussie Tablespoon is four teaspoons (20ml) whereas US Tablespoon is nearer to three teaspoons.
    Also the flour I usually use is wholemeal and looks more like the consistency of the organic fresh-ground whole wheat in your picture. It doesnt say if it is bleached or not, but hopefully it is not
    We still loved the result.
    We dont use white flour much in our house as it is not as good for my mildly diabetic husband. I go for anything that might be a bit lower GI. Better for me too of course.
    It is winter here so it is a good time of year to have the oven on baking and that makes it enjoyable too.
    We travel the outback when we can and often use a caste iron camp oven/dutch oven for cooking over the open fire with coals on top and underneath and I am looking forward to trying the recipes in the outdoors. Will eventually report back on the camp oven cooking.

    • Hi Joan,

      Thank you for the note, we are thrilled that you are giving the recipes a try. You are right, the US tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons.

      Are you using the recipes from Healthy Bread in Five? If so, can you find the vital wheat gluten?

      Thanks, Zoë

  43. I tried the master recipe for the first time with 100% fresh-ground whole wheat from the finest setting on my Golden Grain Grinder. Followed the directions as carefully as I could, added the vital wheat gluten, used about a half cup more liquid as the dough was pretty dry, let sit on the counter for 2 hours, seemed to rise well, then in the fridge for 2 days where it collapsed, as you described.

    Just took out the first handful to try baking, and it came right out of the bowl in a lump — no gluten strands, no need to cut it, just came right out in a handful. Any idea what I might have done wrong?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      It sounds like your dough is too dry and the gluten didn’t have enough water to form long strands. You can try adding more water. Did you also add additional vital wheat gluten to the dough? I have found that many people who grind their own flour tend to need a touch more VWG to get nice gluten formation. The home ground flour tends to have larger pieces of bran, which cuts through the gluten and reduces the stretch.

      There is also the possibility that your refrigerator is set cold. When my dough is in my basement fridge I often lose some of the stretch. After leaving the bucket on the counter for 15 minutes the dough has a chance to warm up and the stretch comes back.

      I suspect it is a matter of the dough being too dry. Add a few more tablespoons of water to the dough and see if that helps.

      Thanks, Zoë

  44. Just a followup to my previous post. I let the lump rest for 90 min. and baked according to the instructions. It didn’t rise at all, but was perfectly edible, though nothing like an artisan loaf.

    The crust softened as it cooled, as always seems to happen with my WW breads — I was hoping this method might produce a crustier crust.

    In any case, I still don’t know why there was no gluten development, or whatever you’d call those strands you have to cut with a knife.

    –Matt

  45. Thanks for the quick reply, Zoe. To answer your questions:

    1. I DID use the 4 T of VWG that the recipe called for, but in my other bread recipes I usually use 1T for each cup of flour, so I will try doubling it next time.

    2. I DID add an extra half cup of water to the 4 the recipe called for, but next time I will add another half cup to make a total of 5c.

    3. i don’t think my fridge is unusually cold, but will try letting the bowl sit out 15 min before pulling out a handful.

    I can’t help but wonder, though, how our ancestors managed to get their breads to rise in the days before processing, when all flour was stone-ground whole wheat and you couldn’t buy VWG to add in.

    I also plan to try the next batch in my cast iron dutch oven to see if that makes a better crust. Have you ever gotten a crust that stays crusty with 100% WW (I never have), or am I tilting at windmills here?

    It will probably be a week or so before I can report back, as I still have a lot of this first batch to use up, and I hate to waste food.

    Thanks! — Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      The addition of VWG is something that is done in commercial bakeries, but really only necessary at home when you are skipping the kneading and letting the dough store for up to 2 weeks.

      The oils in the ww flour will prevent the crust from ever getting as crispy as the breads made with white flour. I wonder if your breads aren’t slightly under baked, which will effect your crust. The loaf will still release steam as it cools and it softens the crust, but once the loaf is completely cool it should crisp back up. If this is not the case your loaf may be slightly under baked.

      Thanks, Zoë

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