Sourdough bread made from freshly ground wholewheat?

Graham's picture

If you make sourdough from freshly milled flour could you please let us know here? We have a recent enquiry from someone who is looking for this style of bread in Melbourne and also in New Zealand.

Thank you,

197 users have voted.


chembake 2006 April 7

In the past I made some tests on making bread with freshly milled flour and it does not work well, although the flavor is really better.

Regardless if made with bakers yeast or French levain, the breads look and feel heavy if compared to properly aged untreated flour, i, e flour stored for several weeks before use...

Another thing also the bread appears flattish and does not have the required symmetry in free form loaves.

Therefore, If am in the position where I really need to use freshly made flour I add a pinch of asccorbic acid and sometimes barley malt extract( if the flour is amylase deficient) to improve the oven bloom and bread volume.

If I had to use French levain, cutlure only I also increase the amount of the active culture to the dough flour so as to accelerate proofing time.
If you are not a purist,, you can spike the recipe with little amount of bakers yeast.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 7

I was wondering. Why is older, oxidised flour more reliable than fresh?

Thomas from [url=]Boonderoo[/url] (they mill their own) has said that the lack of performance is particularly noticeable in the sifted (white) flour. It's not such a big problem with wholomeal. Or perhaps our expectations of how wholemeal bread should look are different?

We used to mill our own wholewheat and found the strongest performing mix of flours was a mix of 50% freshly stone ground wholewheat and 50% organic white, which was commercially roller milled. This combination even out-performed a 100% white dough. All of these were with sourdough leaven only.

It's interesting that ascorbic acid and barley malt make a fresh ground flour much more useable.


chembake 2006 April 7

Chemically speaking aged flour had some very small part of the gluten molecule with sulfhydryl linkages ( or the double sulfur hydrogen bond S-H-H-S is already converted to disulfide -S-S- bonds due to oxidation with the inherent wheat lipoxidase enzymes conferrring some improvement in flour strength in the same way that added oxidants like ascorbic acid which can do the same after being oxidized to dehydroascorbic acid which the one responsible to the improving effect of vitaminc C in dough making.

In regards to wholemeal bread that appears to be fast to mature, its has something to do with more lipoxydase enzymes present than in white flour theortically speaking more enzymatic activity should promote faster flour maturation.
Try compare adding enyzme active full fat soy flour to your bread dough at 0.2,0.5 and 1% level and see the degree of dough improvement in terms of whiter crumb, finer grain and noticeable increase in bread volume with bakers yeast raised dough.

Another thing is wholewheat / wholemeal flour is expected to produce heavier loaves so we cannot expect that bread volume really differs if compared with well matured wholemeal flour which in some cases is not desirable with wholegrain flour due to drastic flavor changes of the resulting bread.

Now regarding the performance of mix grist flours is a bit dubious if looked from the scientific point of view. Only extensive test can confirm such performance uniqueness.But its possible. IIRC in wheat chemistry there was considerable difference in fermentative activty between wholewheat and white flour doughs due to the reason that there is more growth factors in wholegrain flours than in white flours.

One of the factor that theoritically can contribute to such robust pefformance of the mixed grist sourdough bread 50/50 white and wholemeal is the presence of more growth /nutrient factors wth the mixed grist than with the 100% white flour based sourdough. Therefore the organisms of the natural leaven is well stimulated to raise the dough better.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 7

We imagined at the time that the 50/50 performed better due to better fuel, or nutrient as you put it, provided by the fresh meal. We never had any luck with doughs that were primarily white flour. There was definately a reduction in fermentation activity. Possibly it was the type of white flour we used or our technique. Other bakers on this site have brilliant results with 100% white.

Determining exact relationships and reactions between ingredients is difficult for many holistic artisans because the technical support networks are often less accessible than for mainstream bakers. Some unexpected reactions are wonderful, others disasterous. Many reactions are not repeatable because of inconsistenies with ingredient quality.

I have heard that some respected bakers add ascorbic acid regularly. But many artisans frown on the practice. I have to admit not knowing why it was added until your explanation.

If more enzymatic activity promotes flour maturation, then should millers (using stone mills) leave their wholegrain flour to mature as a whole before they sift it? That way the endosperm would oxidise faster in contact with an increased amount of nutrients before it was sifted out?

I should point out that this post was originally started to find bakers that use flour with no or minimal oxidisation. We will get back there eventually.


chembake 2006 April 8

So you already found the reason why the mixed grist produces better performance than white flour. If other bakers find that white flour produces better performance, it might not be related to fermentative activty, rather due to the bigger product volume and lighter density.

Some sourdough bakers can enhance the activity of white flour by adding about a percent of toasted wheat germ and little diastatic malt. then it will confirm that the success of such individual is due to fortification.

The other reason why holistic bakers have difficulty applying food science in their baking methodology is the thought that doing unnatural methods goes againts the grain with their pet belief and prejudice in how naturally fermented bread should be made.
If the claim in their package that its made with 100% natural leavened bread then tweaking the recipes by using alternative methods may not be ethically correct. Its more about conscience than common sense that dominates the minds of these people.

Indeed, inconistencies with performance is common not only due to ingredient variability but also specially bakery craftsmen that relies only in their skill and experience which often are based on limited undestanding and antiquated methodology.

Most artisans are not amenable to modification of their age old formulations and are reluctant to add something that might be construed as artificial. But if that particular baker is taught about the merits of these substances and made to understand that its its considered natural such as ascorbic acid, diastatic malt and lecithin then they will not hesitate in doing so.
Most of the time. Reluctance is due primarily to IGNORANCE.
Another reason is fear of ostracism from his ignorant peers of his trade

The Artisan baker of the 21st century must be open minded with developments in food technology and must readily embrace it its needed for the progress of his business as long as it does not depart from the 'naturallness' concept and avoid drastic measure such as using additives which are not naturally present in food.
Therefore going back to the topic of freshly ground wholewheat flour, its perfectly natural to add ascobic acid and diastatic malt in order to improve its performance specially if its freshly milled/

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 8

It's good to have you back in full form, chembake. I was afraid that after our topic some months ago you might have thought we weren't worth the effort.

I am not certain why you appear to be so upset that a particular group of bakers have decided to bake with their hearts first and their labs second. There are plenty of bakers doing it the other way around...they let their marketing team add the heart factor on the packaging. What motivates an 'artisan' is just as important as their product. Any conventional baker can locate quality ingredients and make perfect artisan-style bread under strict contolls that ensure regular output. So can a $150 bread machine.

Modern manufacturer-centric baking is about using synthetic controlls to reduce unexpected outcomes. The evolution of food, art and indeed our species (sorry ID's) owes a lot to creative adaptations of variables...finding strengths in something unexpected. Artisan bakers expect the unexpected as part of their creative process. Developing solutions can be part of what motivates an artisan and is part of what separates an artisan baker from a process worker.

Yes chembake, it is true. Technology and ingredient manufacturers have gradually turned conventionally trained bakers into process workers. The most creative thing you will do in a shift is push the steam button on the oven (steam is a very inspiring medium). Oh what fun we will have chatting with the sales rep from the synthetic ingredient manufacturer. Such a boost to the creative juices. We love him so much because he takes care of all the creative stuff for us back at his plant. How could we ever survive as bakers without him?

Give bakers licence to play with quality ingredients and find inspired solutions for unexpected outcomes. It takes a lot of skill and experience to confidently manage random and cyclic events. Technology is a useful tool for artisans in evaluating quality issues. But we do not always have to use a high-tech solution when a low tech one will do just fine.

Most artisan bakers are aware that a technological diagnosis is very valuable. Artisans take your accusations of ignorance with grace because [u]we are genuinely interested in baking technology[/u] and are listening when you talk technology. What annoys us is when a synthetic solution is pushed as the only solution.


Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 8

Don't worry Chembake, the way genetically modified grains are going you will soon have flour with inbred soy, vitamin C, leicithin, extra thiamine, and who known what else in it.
I'm not a rabid food fanatic, but the reason I make my own bread is that if I am going to eat chemical crap then it will be chemical crap of my own choosing, not something that a company uses to make their products look good, or able to be made by robots.
I used to scoff at the "Organic " food fraternity and I'm still not part of it, but after a niece with gluten intolerance taught me how to interpret the ingredient labels on packaged foods I have certainly modified my supermarket purchases.

A couple of things come to mind, flour bleached with chlorine for one.
Another is the law in Australia requiring millers to add thiamine to bakers flour because the public has been lead away from natural whole grains by, partly, the pristine white chemical concoction [i]called[/i] bread, and the overprocessed sugar enhanced cereal products that have had anything worthwhile bashed out of them in manufacture.

Just my opinion with no offence intended. I'll get down off my soapbox now.

chembake 2006 April 8

Nice thought.Bill 44?
But its unlikely that genetic engineering will be able to achieve a soy fortified wheat flour but a vitamin enhance flour is a near possibility?the geneticist can usually cross a the genes ocertain breed of wheat with highlevels vitamins with the normal wheat and that will likely result in better vitamin content at least in theoritical level

But as you said later that you are against vitamin fortification of white flour which is commonly done in North America will be good help, as it will also enhance labeling appearance.
Now regarding bleached flour , yes its commonly practiced with white flour specially for the one used in cake making ,,, but nowdays if you are in Australia most flour is unbleached?so its no a worrying issue?
But if you are making a mix grist bread with lots of wholemeal in it for sure its still contains more nutrients than plain white flour.

chembake 2006 April 8

Graham.. I think I may have been misunderstood...but as I treat all baking systems equally...Many people can't just fathom or understand that all breads are ESSENTIALLY the same.
taste may vary....but
People have their own preferences.. and you cannot change that...until now my kids would not touch naturally leavened sourdough....and my grandpa chides the kids eating soft buns for which he label as garbage ..

I came to realize that maybe most denizens of this group are in the geriatric category?...

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