November Breads: It’s All About the Flour

This is another monthly update about our adventures in baking all our own bread products.

Usually the focus of my bread making is the finished product, and my monthly updates reflect that. I mean, you bake bread to eat it, right? But this month, the breads I made were really all about the flour. Perhaps I should explain a bit.

My wife and I have been toying with the idea of milling our own flour for some time now. Our main reason for wanting to grind our own flours is for taste and nutrition. And after a lot of research into various brands and types of grain mills, we finally settled on the Nutrimill.  It helped that we got a first hand testimonial from the Cannon family at Stonewall Farms. They have been using their Nutrimill for some time now and are happy with the results. That and the lifetime warranty clinched the deal for us.

Nutrimill grain mill (click on any image to enlarge)

And I can say that after using ours for a month, we are happy with the results too! So far I have used it to make flour from wheat, buckwheat and popcorn. Did I just say popcorn? Yes! Grinding popcorn makes a great corn meal that has more fiber (74%), less starch, and more protein (34%) than corn meal made from yellow dent corn (USDA nutritional data found here). Not all grinders can handle popcorn, but for the Nutrimill it is a breeze.

Since we were anxious to try the ground popcorn, the first bread I made using freshly ground grains was some cornbread, using a modified King Arthur recipe that called for 2 cups of corn meal and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. I got the popcorn and wheat from a local health food store that has bulk grains (Elbert’s), and ground it right before I baked the cornbread. I baked it in my trusty square cast iron pan, and the cornbread turned out great, with a wonderful taste and texture.

Cornbread made with ground popcorn

Next up was a Rustic Buckwheat bread, using a recipe I saw on the Fusion Grain Cooking show on BYUtv. This recipe from Chef Brad sounded interesting to me, using fresh ground buckwheat flour, sourdough starter and cocoa nibs. I modified the recipe a bit, using 2 cups buckwheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter and 3 cups unbleached flour to boost it up to over 50% whole grains. And it has a whole cup of yummy cocoa nibs in it! If you’re not familiar with cocoa nibs, they are cacao beans that have been shelled and cracked into pieces (I used raw organic nibs from Navitas Naturals). They aren’t sweet, but have a crunchy texture and an intense cocoa flavor. I also added a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the bread to compensate for the lack of gluten in the buckwheat flour.

Rustic Buckwheat Bread

I formed half the dough into a free form loaf, and the rest into rolls. We pretty much devoured the loaf in a couple of days, and I froze the rolls for later use. The buckwheat flour gives the bread a nutty flavor as well as adding fiber, minerals and flavonoids. The rolls make a great snack, thawed and warmed slightly then drizzled with a little honey. And with any luck next year it will be our own honey. I’ll be making this bread again for sure.

Rustic Buckwheat rolls

Another bread I made this month was our Whole Grain bread, that featured freshly ground white whole wheat and some cooked black quinoa. I got a 25lb bag of Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold hard white spring wheat that should last us for a while. The flour from this wheat is light in color and long on nutrition (similar to the white whole wheat flour found in stores).

25lb sack of hard white wheat

Later in the month I made another batch of Whole Grain bread, this time grinding some local high protein red wheat I got from Rivercity Co-op. I ground this wheat more coarsely, and you could see the brown flecks of bran in the flour.

coarsely ground whole wheat flour

For this bread I added some leftover Black Forbidden rice. The rice made for an interesting looking dough! If you look closely you can also see the raw millet I used for this bread and the pieces of bran..

black rice and millet in dough

I baked this loaf in a loaf pan. We used this bread to make turkey sandwiches with our leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and we also had it with our turkey vegetable soup.

Whole Grain bread with black rice

I don’t know what breads will be on our plates for December, but I am sure they will include some freshly ground grains. I also have an oatmeal cookie recipe I want to try, using some whole grain oat flour. I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest update – I know we’ve loved eating the breads!



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7 Responses to November Breads: It’s All About the Flour

  1. Robin says:

    Boy, you are really becoming quite the bread making expert! I just started making bread this year. I started with the no-knead recipe which is great for us. Then recently I decided to try my hand at french bread. I tried a King Arthur almost no-knead recipe twice. One with their bread flour and the other with their all purpose flour. I am not happy with it. The flavor is great but it does not have a nice crisp crust. Maybe I should try another type of recipe….any suggestions King of Bread??

    • Dave says:

      Did you try a steam treatment with the bread? I put a pan (metal) with hot water in the bottom of the oven and then mist the walls of the oven when I first put the bread in. That usually makes for a crisp crust. And a pizza stone makes for a crispy bottom.

  2. How exciting! We’ve considered a grain mill before, but that’s been more for whole grain brewing…by why not for bread baking?! Quality flour makes all the difference. I’m pretty picky about the flour I use for bread, but it’s not always easy to source at a good price. Improved nutrition aside, do you think grinding your own flour, factoring in the price of mill, will be more economical over time than buying flour?

    The buckwheat loaf is gorgeous, and sounds scrumptious! I never, ever, would have considered adding forbidden rice to bread dough either. Interesting! I have some Butanese red rice too that would probably look intriguing as well 😉

    • Dave says:

      We can get KA flours here for about 70 cents per pound in the market. And the various red wheats I have been buying are running between 90 cents and $1 per pound bulk(in small quantities), but they are organic and the KA flour isn’t, so it’s not a truly fair comparison. The Prairie Gold wheat cost about 60 cents per pound, so that makes that flour a bit cheaper. We are going to check into getting grains from some local Amish farmers who sell by the bag. It would likely take the rest of my life to save enough to pay for the cost of the mill though. We did shop around and get it online for less than $200.

      I’ll bet the red Butanese rice would be lovely in bread!

  3. Daphne says:

    I used to make a lot of bread when my kids were around. I find now that my husband and I don’t go through it very fast anymore. Though a freshly made rosemary and olive oil loaf will get eaten up pretty quickly.

  4. mandy says:

    Oh, I am so excited to read this! I’ve had mill on the mind lately. I just joined a buying club that picks up on the east side; there were three separate families their buying wheat berries and i got so excited chatting them all up about home milling. Am I just imagining this or did/does the co-op have local wheat berries?
    Your breads all look positively beautiful and tasty!
    That wheat montana flour comes from a community about three hours away from my husband’s home town, it’s what my mother in law uses in her bread!

    • Dave says:

      Yes, the co-op does have local high protein red wheat berries. I got some there yesterday. And I got the Wheat Montana from the Wallyworld in Henderson.

      I read online that some folks had complained about the Nutrimill being loud, or being slow. But I have to say it’s no louder than the vacuum cleaner, and I can grind the flour for a batch of bread in about a minute or so. That’s fast enough for me!

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