Well, I’ve gotten one step closer to growing my own wheat. Can I get a “whoop whoop”? Welcome the KoMo Fidibus 21 Grain Grinder. Well-built, attractive, mostly quiet, only downside: beaucoup expensive.
There are many, MANY options (as in dizzying amounts) of grain grinders. If you are not committed to baking all of your own bread, or you don’t bake often, you can use an inexpensive coffee grinder to grind your own grains. Your biggest challenge, once you decide to grind your own grain, is choosing your machine. I spent hours, HOURS reading and watching YouTube videos, only to select the first one that I had laid eyes on! Complete option overload! Me + internet + a lot of options = a zombie-like trance. Comparative charts and unending pages of testimonials are my kryptonite.
Once purchased, I was happy! I am thrilled with my Fidibus.
Now to get down to business. Grinding wheat berries is no different from grinding coffee beans. Easy, easy, easy. Pour your grain into the top of your grinder, called the hopper, set how fine or coarse you want your flour to be, put some ear muffs on, and turn it on.
- Tastes unbelievably better (I read that the back-bite some people find offensive in whole wheat breads is caused by the flour going rancid! When you grind it fresh, you don’t get the back-bite).
- Less middle-men and risk of contamination
That’s the grinding portion of the adventure. However, before you get to the grinding, you have to know what to grind. I found this a bit daunting. Thankfully, once over the initial overwhelm, it is completely painless and straightforward. When it comes to wheat, there are basically five different options (not including durum wheat): hard winter red wheat, hard spring red wheat, soft winter red wheat, hard winter white wheat, soft spring white wheat.
White wheat is not the same as what is colloquially known as white flour or all-purpose flour aka “devil flour” from the perspective of most diet books. White wheat berries are 100% whole grain. What is often referred to as white flour is not related to white wheat berries; they just happen to both be referred to as “white.” White flour, all-purpose flour or refined flour has had both the bran and the germ removed from the wheat berry.
Now, I ask you…why call them both white? There isn’t enough confusion surrounding whole grains already? Between the germ and the bran, and the fact that the hulled wheat is referred to as berries wasn’t confusing enough? They had to add in this oober-confusing duplicated taxonomy? Sheeesh! For the record: White whole grain flour is a real thing and it has nothing to do with All-purpose, processed flour.
I have to admit I was a bit slow on the uptake when it came to figuring out what wheat to buy for my first grinding endeavor. I found myself googling “where do you buy whole grain grains?” Then it dawned on me: if you are buying the WHOLE grain, it is therefore “whole grain.” Embarrassing light bulb moment! I had been hearing “whole grain” as a type of flour, bread, etc… But I had not connected what the words actually meant. Whole grain means the WHOLE grain is ground to make the flour. I know, really obvious, but hey, what can I say? 🙂
The best, and in my opinion only way to learn the taste/textural difference between all the different types of wheat is to bake with them. What is nutty to me might taste completely different to you. Don’t rely on another’s description, test it out for yourself.
My favorite combination (so far) is 50% hard red winter and 50% soft white spring. The white wheat berries have a milder flavor. I have tried adding more white wheat to my recipes and what I have noticed is that the bread gets a bit crumblier in texture and the flavor gets closer to a biscuit type flavor (to my taste buds). I think the bread is a bit drier, too…I am still experimenting.
Here is my recipe for 50:50 fresh-ground-flour bread. So called, because I use 50% red spring wheat berries and 50% hard white wheat berries. Follow the same instructions as for 100% sprouted whole wheat sandwich bread.
- 3½ Cups flour ground from hard red spring wheat berries*
- 3½ Cups flour ground from hard white wheat berries*
- 1 Tablespoon SAF yeast
- 2¼ cups bottled water at room temperature**
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt***
- 2 Oz. butter (1/4 cup) (or substitute 3 tablespoons vegetable oil)
**If the dough looks too dry after five minutes of mixing, add more water a tablespoon at a time.
***I have experimented with different salts and I have found kosher salt to produce a more lofty, higher rise.