My Road To Whole Wheat Bread
When it comes to whole grain breads most people either love them or hate them. The ones that love them love them because they probably have had good whole grain breads. Those that hate them hate them because they haven’t had good ones. I used to be in the hate group. Like most people in the hate group I either bought whole grain bread and it was heavy, dense and often dry. Or, when I got my first bread machine I went to the supermarket and bought a bag of whole wheat flour and tried making my own. This didn’t turn out any better than the stuff I had bought. Mine was drier, denser and even had a dirty taste to it.
So I turned to making only white breads with my bread machine and was quite happy. That was until a friend of mine gave me some home milled wheat flour and I made some whole wheat bread from it. It was then that I fell in love with it. The bread came out light, tender, and with a light sweet nutty flavor unlike any whole wheat bread I had ever had before. I was hooked. And, being hooked I immediately asked about her grain mill. It was a Whisper Mill, which at the time was the quietest, easiest to use grain mill on the market, plus it was self cleaning and simple to use. I immediately went out and bought a grain mill and have been in love with milling my own whole grain flours ever since.
My Search for a Good Grain Mill
About 2 years ago however I bought a Vita-Mix Grain Mill and just for the heck of it used it to mill some wheat berries in to flour. I followed the directions that came with it for milling flour and what I ended up with was the lightest finest flour I had ever seen. The bread this flour made was incredible. It was as light and tender as white bread, in fact several of my friends thought it was white bread, I helped this illusion later by using white or golden wheat. As it turns out the finer flour made more of the gluten in the grain available for bread making and because there were no flakes of bran the bran wasn’t cutting the gluten strands. Bran is sharp at least to the gluten strands and the more of them that get cut, the less air the dough will trap from the yeast and the less rise you will get which makes the bread heavy and dense.
After discovering the true secret to light wonderful whole grain bread I started looking for a new grain mill. Sure I could use my Vita-Mix grain mill, but it only allows you to mill a small amount at a time, about 2 cups. I like to mill a good size batch and then freeze it for later use (it is best to use the flour as quickly as possible). You also can run in to problems with the Vita-Mix grain mill should you want a flour that is a little courser. Grinding the grain in the Vita-Mix for less time usually gets you flour that varies widely in texture from powder fine to outright chunky, so if you need to mill say rye berries in to pumpernickel it is almost impossible to do with the Vita-Mix, so I wanted something that would give me the control I wanted.
So my quest for other options was on. What I found was that there is a fairly large selection of grain mills on the market from little mini stone grain mills to the burr grain mills like the Retsel, when you add in the hand crank units and the one for the Kitchen Aid mixer (I do not recommend it, it is a nightmare). The number of grain mills available is quite surprising. And, even more surprising was that they all had major drawbacks. Most have no coarseness control, others lacked that and got the flour to hot which destroys the important nutrients in it, yet others were a nightmare to use and clean and it just went on and on.
My Nutrimill Grain Mill
I decided to give the Nutrimill Grain Mill a try. What I found in the Nutrimill was excellent control over the flour texture. You not only have the ability to make pastry fine flour but you can also go the other direction for cereals and such. The Nutrimill is one single unit with the flour collection bin sliding in underneath the milling part so it is compact and doesn’t take up a lot of space (about the space of a food processor). You even have control over the motor speed (high and low, high is used for most things with low being used for slightly coarser flour like cream of wheat cereal, it still won’t produce cracked grains ), though I have not had a need for this yet.
As far as what you can mill with the Nutrimill grain mill, you can mill any dry grains. The Nutrimill can’t mill nuts, seeds or anything that is oily or wet including flax. But, this is a common limitation for almost all electric grain mills. The Nutrimill can’t mill coffee either. A Nutrimill can mill wheat, millet, spelt, kamut, oats, corn, buckwheat and the like.
The Nutrimill mills quickly and is capable of milling up to 20 cups of flour at one time.
The Nutrimill’s milling chamber (that is the area that the grain is turned in to flour in) is supposed to be self cleaning. The manufacturer claims you just let the Nutrimill grain mill run for 20 to 30 seconds after the last of the grain is fed in and it will clean itself out. I found this is partly true, but the Nutrimill grain mill does require more clean up of flour dust before storing it away , if you don’t clean it out good you may have a weevil problem the next time you use it. Simply vacuum it out or use a soft pastry brush to sweep it out. Then wash out the flour collection bin which just needs to be rinsed out was cold water and dried well.
Best of all, the Nutrimill grain mill can make very fine flour which means you make whole grain breads with all of the nutritional bonuses of whole grain bread with all of the texture and moistness of white breads.
I found the Nutrimill grain mill to be a good grain mill with above average coarseness fineness control. The Nutrimill grain mill will have you turning out baked goods that taste great and are good for you and high in fiber.
Items Nutrimill Can Mill
Wheat (both hard and soft), whole oat groats, rice, triticale, kamut, spelt, dried pinto beans, popcorn, split peas, buckwheat, barley, rye, millet, sorghum, dried mung beans and soybeans. (The Nutrimill isn’t suitable for herbs, spices, tapioca pearls, oilseeds like flax or sesame, nuts, coffee or anything excessively oil, wet or stringy.)
Cost and Warranty
The cost of the Nutrimill is around $250 and it includes a Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty, which includes Nutrimill’s stainless steel milling heads.
Why Mill Your Own Flour
If you would like to know more about milling your own flour and why it is worth the investment in a grain mill please click here to read our article on the subject.
1. If you want a bit of texture in your whole grain breads, but still want the benefit of ultra fine flour, try milling 80% of your grain on the fine setting and turn it to the normal flour setting to add a little texture to your flour. This way you have the best of both worlds and the texture adjust can be done with the grain mill running.
2. Why stop at just one grain for your bread. Before adding your grain to the grain mills hopper mix several kinds of grain in a bowl and then dump that in. You can make just about any kind of grain combination you want for some really extraordinary breads and baked goods. Keep in mind however; most grains do not contain usable gluten. So grains like rye, oats, buckwheat, etc. should be kept to no more than 20%, the bulk of the grain should be made up of high gluten grains which include wheat, spelt and kamut. For more information on the various grains click here.
3. Like white bread, but want the nutritional advantages of whole grain. Use white or golden wheat berries instead of the red. The white and golden wheat have less tannic acid which gives them a lighter taste and a lighter color. Golden and white wheat can make your whole grain breads look and taste more like white bread, but still have all of the nutritional benefits of whole grain including the fiber, vitamins and minerals.
4. Because the vitamins and minerals in freshly milled flour can deteriorate quickly when exposed to air (it oxidizes) it is best to either mill just the amount of flour you need for the baking you will do that day or freeze any extra in an air tight container, use it with in 10 days.
- 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- 1-1/2 Pound Loaf
- 1 Cup of Warm Buttermilk
- 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Warm Water*
- 3-1/2 Cups Freshly Milled, Fine Whole Wheat Flour (Red, White or Golden or a mixture)
- 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt or 1 Teaspoon Table Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
- 1/4 Cup Honey, Light color means light flavor
- 2 Teaspoons of Instant Active Dry Yeast
Place all of the ingredients in your machines fully assembled pan. Use only 1/4 cup of the warm water to start. Select the basic, white, wheat or whole grain setting and press start. After the dough has kneaded for 2 to 3 minutes check the moisture level, if the dough looks dry and crumbly add a few tablespoons of the reserved warm water and allow to knead for a few more minutes. What you want is dough that forms a smooth round ball that is as tacky to the touch as the sticky part of a Post-It Note. The reason you don’t just add all of the water is because fresh milled flour even more than commercially milled flour varies more widely in moisture content, that coupled with your weather conditions means sometimes you will need more water and sometimes you will need less. It is better to add water than try to adjust for dough that is too wet. Once the dough is the correct consistency, close the lid and allow the machine to finish.
If you like to bake your bread in the oven as I do, make the dough on the dough cycle, adjusting the dough consistency as instructed above. When the dough cycle completes remove the dough from the machines pan, shape it and place it in a greased bread pan. Cover with a pan sprayed coated plastic bag and allow to rise until doubled at 2 hours for a warm environment, more if it is cool or cold. It is important to allow the dough the time to double in size. Then bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing it form the pan. Then remove it from the pan and allow to cool on the cooling rack for at least 2 hours before cutting it.
Nutrimill Grain Mill Review Conclusion
I can recommend the Nutrimill grain mill; it has all of the power, flexibility, easy clean-up, and compact size that one could want, making it a great companion to your mixer. If you don’t like whole grain breads and such, I highly recommend that you find someone with a grain mill and have them mill you enough flour for a loaf of bread. Once you have had bread made from freshly milled flour, you will fall in love with it.
Purchase: You can purchase a Nutrimill Grain Mill from Kodiak Health Products or several other small kitchen appliance stores.
Need Some Grain Mill Recipes? Check out GrainMillRecipes.com for great recipes using any grain mill.