Baking Sourdough With Fresh Milled Flour

This entry originally appeared in the seventeenth issue of Bread Magazine.

“You’re so crazy,” I heard my wife whisper in the background as I unearthed the great red beast from its box marked “Extremely Heavy.” The beast, a GrainMaker Model No. 116 hand cranked mill, was carefully packaged and shipped across the country from a small place in the Midwest where everything was made and assembled by hand. It exuded quality and craftsmanship. As I placed the large, shiny apparatus on my kitchen counter I tried to hold back my excitement and eagerness to start baking with fresh milled flour.

But is my wife right: am I crazy to have my own flour mill in our kitchen? Throughout history communities were centered on the flour mill. People would gather when the mill was finished grinding berries into wheat and pick up their fresh flour to bake with it straightaway. These mills were life-giving to the community. Is it so different to have a mill in your own home and bake with fresh flour? While the importance of bread may or may not be the same today as it was back then, there’s certainly a list of things to be gained by baking with fresh milled flour, and for me, taste is at the top.

GrainMaker 116 Mill

The GrainMaker allows me to produce some incredibly fine flour, but milling is definitely not a speedy process: it takes me between 10 and 20 minutes to mill just 300 grams of flour (depending on how fine I decide to grind, and how strong I’m feeling that morning). While my proficiency improves each time I use the mill, the physical process of milling is part of the enjoyment for me. It’s that missing step in baking, the transformative part that takes each seed from field to bread. But perhaps most importantly, the resulting flour is spectacularly fine, very light and the aroma is intoxicating. Milling that first batch of flour was a real awakening: who knew flour could smell like this?

What was my motivation for milling my own flour? There were several things that captivated me after reading numerous articles and first hand accounts of people milling at home: economics, overall increase in freshness, health benefits, and king of them all, the taste.

Benefits of Fresh Milled Flour

The benefits of milling your own wheat are numerous. First, buying whole, raw berries makes financial sense compared to milled sacks of wheat: not only are they cheaper but buying in bulk typically will save you even more. When stored in the proper way (a cool, dry pantry devoid of light) the shelf life of raw wheat berries is incredibly long—years long, so ordering an excess is never a problem. For a home baker like me this can be a real advantage as I can store 50 pounds of wheat berries almost indefinitely and not have to worry one bit about them spoiling. I typically bake two to three times per week and I have no problem churning through a 50 pound sack of flour, but it’s nice to have fresh flour and mill only what is needed for the next bake. But if you are a sporadic baker it might make even more sense, mill only what you need and the rest will stay fresh long into the future.

Wheat Berries

Milling your own flour, without sifting, means you will retain 100% of the same wheat berry in your end product. Many mills will indicate on their packaging that you’re buying whole wheat but that doesn’t always mean whole grain. Additionally, they will sometimes perform several milling passes, especially on the germ and bran which are sifted out and then later added back in, reconstituting back to 100% of its original weight. I have not had firsthand experience with fresh milled & reconstituted flour but I’ve read several accounts where bakers say there is something different about the taste, nutrition—and it simply does not perform the same as fresh milled flour milled in a single pass (see Peter Reinhart’s latest book, Bread Revolution).

Studies show that fresh milled flour provides added nutrients to your diet compared to aged flour. To start, bread baked with fresh milled flour has higher vitamin and fiber levels in resulting loaves1. Further, foods exposed to oxygen (oxidization) for prolonged periods will result in nutrient loss, and in this case beneficial minerals and oils2. Once the wheat berry is milled, breaking open that protective bran layer, oxidization begins which causes nutrients to slowly degrade. While we do not eat bread primarily for its vitamin content (compared to say, spinach), but rather more for proteins, fiber and carbohydrates, it is great to know that bread baked with fresh milled flour retains more vitamins and nutrients than we might otherwise get.

GrainMaker Milling Fresh Wheat, ScrapsWith all that said, it’s easy to get caught up in debate on the exact percentage of vitamin and fiber retention, but to me those are beneficial side effects of a larger motivating factor: taste. It’s much better to focus on the fact that this bread is just plain delicious (and, in some possibly unquantifiable way, healthier). Let’s talk about the taste.

The Taste of Freshly Milled Flour

Great taste is of course something we always strive for when baking, irrespective of what flour we are using, but the bread I’ve baked with fresh milled flour is a world apart from what I’m used to. It starts with the smell during milling — a smell that reminds me of heavy cream or panna cotta. I never knew wheat could smell like this and it’s captivating. When you smell aged flour it might have a certain sweet smell, but there’s something more here, something I wasn’t expecting the first time I milled. You’re hit a second time with this wonderful aroma right when you get your hands in and mix with water, it wafts up from the cream-colored mixture and lingers with you though the mix.

I like to equate milling flour to grinding your own coffee beans. Once you taste the results there’s no alternative.

My typical sourdough baked with fresh milled flour takes on added levels of complexity, a taste that is hard to capture in words but brings a smile to my face at each slice. The crust becomes incredibly thin and crackly with a forward shine to it, a shine that almost looks as if I had smeared the bread with olive oil and then baked it. The interior of my loaves is tender, light and yields a deeply rich taste compared to my other loaves. I’ve read others describe the taste as having a bit of a “nutty” or “grassy” taste to it, in a good way.

Fresh Whole Wheat Enzymatic Activity

The Perfect Loaf Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Crumb

Surprisingly these loaves with fresh flour are almost better after a few days when toasted. That thin and crackly crust crisps up even further, along with the open interior, to provide the perfect crunchy vessel for bruschetta, ricotta & honey or even just a good slather of salted butter (you’ll see what I mean in just a bit). Incredibly simple but exquisitely delicious.

Fresh Milled flour vs Store Bought

There are accounts of the unpredictability of fresh milled flour, how different batches (and sometimes the same batch but just day-to-day variation) of grain can ferment at drastically different rates, and how aging flour helps to level out the inconsistencies. But using the whole grain from fresh milled flour is exactly what we want in the first place: a flour that’s free of bleaches, stabilizers and other chemicals, just 100% of the wheat berry and nothing else. If that means we have to be a bit more attentive and deal with the peculiarities of the fresh flour then it’s worth it for the flavor gained.

I haven’t noticed drastic differences in flour performance (in terms of strength) when using fresh flour, but then again I’m still relatively new at the milling game. I’ve been working my way through two 25 pound sacks of raw berries and have been testing and tweaking formulas along the way. One thing I have noticed, however, is a significant increase in fermentation activity. Even when my loaves are retarded in cold temperatures at 40-42ºF I have to keep a close eye on the dough after about 8 hours. Through my tests I’ve found that the final dough temperature (the temperature of your dough mass after final mixing) is incredibly important: if it’s 78ºF or higher then be ready for a speedy bulk. I try to target around 75ºF each bake so my bulk comes in at the typical 4 hours, which is the norm for me. Of course the duration of your bulk is also impacted by other factors, such as ambient temperature and how much levain you included in your mix, but that is my finding when using around 14-15% levain.

Mixing Levain

Building Levain

Milled, store bought flour is not always consistent either, of course. There are variations in each sack that every baker must account and adjust for because flour is not a static input, it is an ever changing component of baking. Each growing season for the farmer is different and therefore each batch of flour will have different properties. One season might be full of rain and the next might be very dry, the flour will then require different hydration and might even be stronger or weaker.

Since flour is such an important part of baking (it is the largest ingredient after all), it is incredibly important we look for the best flour we can reasonably afford.

Wheat Berry Selection

Good food depends almost entirely on good ingredients.Alice Waters

I like to source organic wheat when possible. There are many, many great resources out there for local wheat that is farmed in an organic and sustainable way, why not take advantage of these great products? For my first bulk order of raw wheat berries I settled on a 25 pound sack of Great River Organic Hard Red Spring Wheat grown up north of me near the northern part of the Mississippi River. I had plans to use a local wheat grown a few hours north of me but they sadly dropped their organic rating. I still plan on trying their wheat in the future with the hopes that they return to their original plans of farming wheat organically. Organic or not is a personal preference, I choose organic whenever possible to support farmers who are able and choose to grow in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. It’s also something my family strongly believes in.

Raw Wheat BerriesMy selection of hard red spring wheat was made consciously. Hard wheat is typically chosen for bread here in North America because it has a higher protein content than soft wheat, which is used primarily for cake and pastry flour. Red wheat lends a creamy reddish color to the dough (hence the name) and a wonderful red hue to the crust. Having only milled a few times with white wheat I’ve found that the red variety has a slightly stronger flavor–not bitter, just a more pronounced flavor in general. Both of my wheat trials were performed on spring plantings and I will have to do further taste tests between spring and winter to determine which I prefer.


One of the incredible things about the GrainMaker is that it is able to mill flour at near room temperature. Keeping the temperature low is important when milling as it prevents the destruction of those important oils and nutrients we want to preserve. Smaller, motor-driven mills can mill flour at a much faster rate but sacrifice that low temperature of the flour as it comes out of the mill. Larger mills are able to offset this significant heat generation by utilizing massive grindstones that rotate at low revolutions per minute while still producing flour at a relatively fast pace. For the home baker there are several options for mills, hand operated and motor-driven alike, and some with incredible build quality to boot, but for me the GrainMaker was the right choice.

Milling Fresh Flour on the Grainmaker

I always start milling early in the morning. The house is still asleep and it’s just me and my mill in the kitchen as the sun comes up. I find it convenient to mill all the flour needed for the day’s bake first, then build my levain with 100% fresh milled flour. Finally, the rest of the day is baking per usual. I will typically bake two loaves, sometimes four, and I can comfortably mill enough flour in the morning to cover them.

Flour at Room Temperature

Before I start milling I work out how fine I am going to mill the wheat berries on hand. I can turn the dial at the front of the mill clockwise to head more towards a finer flour, or counterclockwise to get a more coarse grind. This turning action essentially moves the two stainless steel burrs closer or father apart, respectively. I am still experimenting with varying levels of granularity, but currently I start by turning the dial until it is at a medium level and then I begin milling grain slowly with a handful of grain to start. I turn the dial clockwise to go finer, inspecting the output at each turn. I’ve become attuned to the sound the mill makes and the vibration of the arm and handle when the grind is at just the right level to get the granularity I want.

When I first experimented with the mill I used my whole wheat flour on hand as a guideline, I placed the two side-by-side and inspected the differences. My comparison results were obtained empirically, but by simply taking flour and pressing it between my fingers I can garner a surprising amount of data: how large are the bran particles? Does the flour cake and stick when squished? How does the flour fall when run through my fingers? All very tactile and visceral tests but that is how much of baking is, after all.

Milled Fresh Whole WheatUsing a manual mill is definitely not a fast process, but with the right music playing through my headphones hand-milling becomes a very meditative process. As I turn the crank it gives me time to step back from the hustle of the day and think about the upcoming bake, what am I going to test? What do I seek to learn? And maybe most importantly, how can I work this bread into each meal of the day?

With my bowl of freshly milled flour I’m then ready to build my levain and later in the day start mixing.

The Perfect Loaf Country Sour with Fresh Milled Flour

I’ve been working on a formula that has a balance between enough fresh milled flour to really bring out the flavor but enough white flour to get a nice and lofty rise. The following produces some of the best tasting bread I’ve ever made and it is now my go-to when I plan to mill flour. I’ve also baked a few 100% fresh milled loaves and those are equally incredible, if not more, you can see those recipes and results here.

The Perfect Loaf Fresh Milled Whole Wheat


Total dough weight 1900 g
Pre-fermented flour 7%
Hydration 84%
Yield 2 x 950 g loaves

Levain Build

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
43g Mature stiff starter (at 65% hydration) 50%
66g Fresh Milled Organic Great River Hard Red Spring Whole Wheat 100%
43g H2O @ room temperature 65%


Note that the baker’s percentages listed below are with respect to the final dough ingredients and do not take into account the levain.

Target final dough temperature is 75ºF.

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
664g Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft, Malted (~11.5% protein) 70%
189g Fresh Milled Organic Great River Hard Red Spring Whole Wheat 20%
102g Central Milling Organic Type 70 10%
815g H2O @ 95ºF 85%
20g Fine sea salt 2%
143g Mature, stiff levain 15%


For more details on each step, refer back to one of my older recipes for more instruction.

1. Levain – 8:00am

Build the levain in the morning after milling fresh flour. Store somewhere warm around 78-82ºF ambient.

2. Autolyse – 11:00am

Mix flour and water (reserve 50g water for mix, later) very well in a bowl and cover. Ensure all dry flour is hydrated. Store near levain.

3. Mix – 2:00pm

Using about 30g of the reserved water, incorporate levain build into autolyse and hand-mix thoroughly. Slap and fold for 6 to 8 minutes until dough holds shape well. Place dough back into bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Then, use remaining water, if necessary/desired, to incorporate salt into mixture. The dough will initially break apart and then come back together. Slap and fold an additional 3 to 6 minutes until dough starts to catch air and strength is built enough to keep dough relatively in shape on counter.

Transfer dough to a tub or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.

4. Bulk Fermentation – 2:20pm

At 80ºF bulk fermentation typically takes me somewhere between 3.5 and 4 hours. Watch the dough near the end–as I mentioned previously fermentation can quickly get out of control.

Perform 4 sets of stretch and folds (each set is a stretch and fold at North, South, East & West), one every 30 minutes.

5. Divide & Preshape – 6:20pm

Divide the dough into two masses, each scaled at 950 grams. Lightly shape each mass into a round, cover with inverted bowl or moist towel, and let rest for 25 minutes.

6. Shape – 6:45pm

Shape each mass into a boule or batard, whatever your preference may be. Place into a banneton lightly dusted with white rice flour, or into a basket with no flour but lined with a cotton tea towel (if you want serious shine on the crust).

7. Proof – 6:50pm

Retard immediately into refrigerator at 40ºF to 42ºF for 12 hours.

8. Prehead oven – Next Morning, 6:00am

Preheat oven for 1.5 hours at 500ºF.

9. Bake – Next Morning, Preheat oven at 6:00am, Bake at 7:30am

Bake for 20 minutes at 500ºF with steam, and an additional 30 minutes at 450ºF, until done to your liking.

Crust Fresh Milled Whole WheatThe resulting crust is incredibly thin, crunchy and wonderfully colored. You can see how much shine is brought forward by using fresh milled flour–just an immense amount of enzymatic activity. The crumb is soft and tender, it has a wonderfully complex flavor with a hint of sourness and a creamy hue throughout. The taste… well I’ve already spoken at length on the taste of this bread with fresh milled flour, it’s just delicious.

The Perfect Loaf Fresh Milled Flour Crumb

Parting Words

I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of milling fresh flour at home but thus far I’m extremely exited about the results. I bake bread that truly tastes vibrant and fresh, it has levels of flavor that I’ve never experienced with my sourdough. The laborious act of hand-milling flour may not be possible, or desirable, for everyone but for me this part of the enjoyment, the transformation from seed to flour to bread — wonderful.

After tasting the results I think my wife has finally accepted the large red beast into our kitchen, and my “crazy” status has been downgraded to “normal” — well as normal as one can be when they wake before the sun rises to turn their kitchen into a flour mill.

In the same vein as my last post, and given the seasonality of these little gems, I toasted several slices of my sourdough using the recipe above and added organic figs, ricotta and a light drizzle of local honey. Perfetto.

Fig, Ricotta, Honey and Sourdough

  • Lindy

    This is an inspiring post. I have one question. You say you use white flour. Do you mill that? if so, how do you end up with white flour? And if you don’t where do you get it?

    • Thanks so much! The white flour used was not milled by me, it’s aged flour from Central Milling. However, I’ve been creating typical “white” flour by sifting the flour after I mill. I have a set of siting screens that allows me to create various levels of extraction. For example, if I wanted to mill 100% of the flour for this bread I would mill the entire required flour amount and then sift 80% of the flour to extract the bran/germ particles and arrive at white flour. The extraction would be around 80%, meaning, if I had 100g of fresh milled flour at 80% extraction I would keep 80g of the flour and discard (or save for another use) the larger bran and germ particles. Sifting out these larger particles, at various extraction percentages, allows me to get flour anywhere from extremely white pastry-type flour to 100% extraction whole wheat.

      I hope that makes sense. I am working on another entry here for my site that goes into the details of sifting, which screens I use and the entire process I go through. It’s not hard at all, it just adds an additional step.

  • Noah

    Such beautiful loaves and the pic of the fresh flour in that symmetric pattern is perfect! Wonderful post– I’m now getting obsessed with the notion of milling at home!

    • Thanks, Noah! It definitely is a time investment, especially with the hand cranked mill, but I am really, really enjoying the results. Incredible taste, fermentation is on supercharge, and to top it off it’s even healthier. Thanks for the comments!

  • quitecurious

    This is an amazing post. Can’t wait to see what else you do with fresh milled flour!

    • Thanks so much! Glad you’re following along 🙂 I have a few baking projects coming up using more fresh milled flour, stay tuned!

  • Sashineb

    Your bread looks wonderful. Thank you for such a thorough explanation of the process, and for the photos to show the various steps. The GrainMaker looks like an extremely sturdy, well-made machine (unlike the attachment that a certain mixer company makes.) I can’t wait to read more of your adventures. Thank you.

    • You’re very welcome, thanks for the comments! The GrainMaker is indeed a solid, well built machine — I just love it. More posts to come 🙂

  • Malvern Buttery

    Great stuff and I love your photography. I am expecting my KOMO mill to be delivered tomorrow and looking forward to milling some unique heritage grains. Any reason you decided on the Grain Maker as opposed to the KOMO? Keep it up!

    • Thanks so much! I looked at the KoMo and almost bought it. Really well built machine and produces some excellent flour. I picked the GM because I wanted to be able to precisely control the mill rate and also mill at a lower temperature. There’s a tradeoff here, of course, in that it takes me quite a bit of time and energy to mill the flour required for my bakes, but this is actually something I enjoy. I also picked the GM because there are very, very few parts to it, making it easy to clean and maintain.

      More fresh milled flour posts to come!

  • What a great article! Milling your own flour for sure makes such a difference – I’d love to have such a great mill as yours – this red colour!! Well but my electric one is doing a good job as well and the loaves are just worlds apart from the ones mad with store-bought flours!

    • Thanks, Sabrina! Electric mills really are great, nothing bad about them at all, and as you said you get flavors you never would from aged flour! Thanks for the comments & happy baking!

  • Altaf Ali

    This is just gorgeous through and through. The loaf, the flour, the writing, the photos. I am having my own fun experimenting with my Komo Classic mill, so your article and post come at just the right time for me. Well done, Maurizio, and congratulations on the beautiful Bread magazine feature. You deserve it.
    – Altaf from @auntmaries on IG

    • Altaf, thanks so much, I appreciate the comments! I really respect the KoMo, I almost picked that up instead of the GrainMaker! It’s a really well built mill and I know lots of bakers truly enjoy it. I plan to post quite a bit more regarding fresh milled flour so I hope to hear your thoughts on how things work out for you!

      Working on this post for Bread magazine was a really great experience, I hope to submit more here in the near future! Thanks again and happy baking Altaf!

  • Rachel

    Great article – so interesting and such beautiful photos. Looking forward to more posts like this. I love the idea of all those oils making that shiny crust.
    2 questions – 1. Why do you add white flour? 2. Why are the burrs steel as opposed to stone? Surely stone would stay cooler and thus allow you to mill faster?


    • Rachel — thanks for the comments! I have quite a bit more entries to come regarding fresh milled flour, it’s an exciting thing to work with hours-old flour milled in my kitchen!

      1. I added white flour (essentially sifted flour) because I wanted more of a white flour loaf this time around. I have a few loaves in the works that increase the amount of fresh milled flour — stay tuned!

      2. I imagine GrainMaker chose steel burs because of their durability. Yes, stone would definitely stay cooler longer but I’ve milled quite a bit of flour in this without any significant increase in heat at all. If it were attached to a motor stone burrs might make more sense. I know larger mills that have stones (stoneground flour, for ex) produce some really exquisite flour.

      I hope that answers your questions — thanks again for the comments!

  • mayK

    ~Good article about milling your own flour for baking at home – look foreward to read more about the subject.

    I sometimes like to dry-roast the grains before milling, – for enhancing taste and colour of the different grains used in baking my bread. During the time of milling some of my own flour at home I’ve learned a trick about keeping temperature low in the grains when milling, – and it’s as easy as to place the grains in the freezer for an hour or more before milling.
    I’ve learned this trick when making my own nut flour at home, ex. almond flour for macrons, – if freezing the almonds before grinding them you avoid high temperature-rising during processing them into fine flour.
    That’s the fun about baking, – it’s a life-time learning curve, and especially reading/learning from the good baking blogs, – as yours, is inspirational to jump outside of the comfort zone.

    • Thanks for the comments! That’s a great idea: freeze your grains and then mill. I could probably lower the temperature quite a bit more if I did this, although for me 79ºF on average is acceptable.

      I haven’t yet ventured into milling other types of flour, e.g. almond, spelt, etc. So many possibilities! I also have never toasted my grains before milling them, interesting idea.

      Thanks again for the comments, I’ll be posting more here very soon about baking with fresh milled flour!

      • John

        Have you tried sprouting the wheat before milling? I’d be curious to know how that changes the performance in the bread

        • No I actually have not yet practiced with milled, sprouted grain. This is on the horizon though for sure. I just recently developed a recipe for a sprouted buckwheat loaf that I’ll be posting very, very soon. The taste of the sprouts mixed directly into the dough is incredibly good so I could imaging how it would taste with a percentage of milled sprouts!

          More soon.

  • Manfred Petri

    Hey Maurizio — great site and great looking bread. Very mundane question here. Do you use a conventional or convection oven for the bakes?

    • Manfred — thanks I appreciate that! I use a typical home oven that has convection, but I actually do not use the convection fan. I keep meaning to experiment with the fan but haven’t really had a chance (to risk the loaves) yet!

  • Manfred Petri

    Interesting. . . I have been baking for 3 years now, starting with Lahey, onto Forkish and finally Robertson. I have only ever used convection (enameled iron pots and a pizza stone) with the thinking that it distributes the heat evenly. I like to bake to that chestnut color (or crimson with Robertson’s bread). The only thing I can report is that the baking time is somewhat reduced — I usually go the 30 minutes with the cover on the pot and then once removed it is usually done in 10—13 minutes after that. Only a couple of times have I had what I thought was not ‘baked through’. Might now try the conventional bake since you’re getting pretty impressive results with that.

    • Interestingly enough I’ve never used the convection option, even though many people have recommended it to me. Now that you’ve brought it up I’ll try it out on my next bake! I’ll keep an eye on the total time, I know that it is supposed to be reduced with the fan going. Let me know how a conventional bake goes for ya!

  • that is one awesome toy, that mill. Have you ever cursed yourself for buying it though, or are you still really happy you have it? I am still enjoying your blog so much . . . and learning a lot and my bread is improving with each bake. I wanted to mention a local urban Mill near my home . . . just attended a “community bake” day at the Mill where a mobile oven maker brought his behemoth oven and I had the pleasure of baking my walnut cranberry (using, for the most part, your recipe) and it turned out amazing!!!! Grist & Toll, in Pasadena, they sell the most wonderful freshly milled flours. . . check them out!

    • I have never cursed myself for buying it, I use it all the time and for many other things besides bread! It’s a great tool to have in the kitchen. In fact this coming weekend I plan to mill some fresh flour for pancakes.

      Glad you’re enjoying my site! That sounds like an awesome event, I would LOVE to have something like that nearby where I’m at, I haven’t heard of anything like that (perhaps I should start this!). Grist & Toll — I plan on picking up some flour from them here at some point! They have an awesome reputation and a great selection. Thanks for the tip! I just love that Walnut/Cranberry loaf, so tasty 🙂

      • Yes you could consider . . . it is a “” group that was started by Erik Knutzen who is a baker and avid DIYer/homesteader, etc.; it has become somewhat of a cult little group and the events I’ve attended have been very congenial and informative, not to mention productive (bread) and fun. Michael O’Malley is the name of the fella who made the oven and is also a diehard baker and builder. Grist and Toll has a “charcoal” wheat flour right now that is a cross between two different breeds and is nearly black in color and yields an almost tootsie-roll colored dough! Happy Holidays,

        • That sounds so fun, very jealous! I’d love to get together with some other serious bakers and swap stories, experience, etc., sure would be fun. I’ve seen G&T’s charcoal flour before, it looks very, very interesting. I saw some bakers using it recently for sourdough, I can only imagine the taste! My pantry is full of kamut berries, spelt berries and rye flour for upcoming bakes… Can’t wait to get started! Happy holidays 🙂

          • Ethan Wolf

            Hey, could you point me to some loaves made with their charcoal flour? I saw the flour a couple weeks ago (sold out now 🙁 ) and to have black wheat berries, is crazy to me, so I’m very intrigued to see loaves baked with it. Thanks!

            • I really want to try some charcoal flour sometime soon. Unfortunately I don’t know of any recipes or loaves baked with it offhand. I found them on Instagram a while back. I’ll keep an eye out for them again and send you a link!

  • Naomi Dagen Bloom

    Charcoal flour? Have seen charcoal powder…Natasa in Slovenia has this recipe. Not drawn to it but recommend her Rye sourdough with yoghurt. Maurizio, I continue to produce delicious loaves via your starter instructions; definitely a link for students in intro SD class am doing later this month.

    • Wow that bread looks very interesting, I definitely would love to get my hands on some of that flour. Will keep an eye out.

      Really great to hear you’re doing so well with my starter instructions! I’d love to hear how your students like the post and how well they do. Good luck & happy baking!

  • Kevin Smith

    I saw the grainmaker and would love to have one but the price is a little steep for me. I was wondering if you have recommendations of other mills that are a bit cheaper? I don’t mind putting in work via the hand mill, just looking for a good value with quality and price. I like the idea of keeping lower temperatures for nutritional value.

    • Yes it is definitely a high expense, something I plan on keeping forever (and probably hand down to my son!). I actually don’t know of any other hand operated mills but I am sure there are some more out there. If you’re looking for an electric mill check out KoMo and Hawos, two reputable brands. You’re going to love fresh flour!

  • Jen Woodring

    I’m having a heck of a time with changing over to locally milled flour from commercial. The 100% hydration thing has me liking the manageability of the dough but not the finished product. Can I bend your ear offline?

    • Jen, shoot me over an email through the “Contact” link at the top of this page and we’ll figure out what’s going on!

  • Giant Sand Fans

    Did you already test with different levels of milling from finest to coarse in order to check gluten development or other parameters, maybe like flavour, outcome temperature and so on ?

    • I have been playing with this quite a bit, but I don’t have any exhaustive tests/results to share just yet. Lately I’ve been trying to back off my milling so it’s not quite so fine and so I can see clear bran/germ particles — my mill does produce some nice separation. I have a long way to go with testing this but it’s an interesting area for me to explore.

      One thing I’ve found lately with fresh milled spelt is when I mill the flour extremely fine (so fine it sort of cakes to my mill dust chute) the resulting bread has a more yellow hue to it and almost a creamier interior. Not sure the cause of this just yet, still experimenting!

      • Giant Sand Fans

        Maybe , because the extremely fine milling , it’ oxidizing so its whiter…

        • Definitely something I need to research more!

  • Felice DeNigris

    Hey Maurizio, Great Post! I am deciding to purchase a mill but am looking at a lower price range than your amazing Grainmaker! I can’t decide between the KoMo Hand Grinder or the Kitchenaid Mill Grinder stand mixer attachment? I hear great things about KoMo, but not so sure about the Kitchenaid Mill. How do you think the Kitchenaid Mill would perform in comparison? I believe the KA has all metal and steel components where as the KoMo is using Ceramic Stones. I’m curious to know if you have a suggestion.

    • Hey! Unfortunately I haven’t used either mills so it’s hard for me to say. Like you, I’ve read really great things about KoMo mills and I’d surely pick one of those up if I did not have my GrainMaker. The KitchenAid might also be a really great mill I just don’t know much about it nor have I seen many using it.

      Hope that helps!

  • Matthew Wong

    Hey Maurizio!

    I had a question about where you source your wheat berries and how one might assess wheat berry quality. I don’t have a mill near me, as of yet (Austin, TX will be opening up one soon!) but looking online at, Breadtopia, Pleasant Hill Grain, and even Amazon, I see quite a few options. Would you recommend a trial by fire sort of scenario in choosing berries? Are there any easy to access brands you’d have an opinion on?

    My KoMo comes in soon and I can’t wait to start milling fresh flour!

    • Hey! I’ve purchased berries online at Amazon from Great River Organics which were of really good quality. Lately I’ve been purchasing wheat from Breadtopia which has also been really great (I think they get most from Montana Flour & Grain ultimately), the grain is very clean and packaged well. I’ve picked up some White Sonora (fantastic grain) from Hayden Mills online as well. I kind of just try various sources and stick with the ones I like. Those that I’ve mentioned have all be really great so far and I have many, many more to try. I hope to have something posted here in the future where I can show my results with each, just haven’t gotten there yet.

      Have fun with your KoMo, it’s a fantastic mill and you’re going to love baking with fresh milled flour. I hope that helps let me know if you have any more questions!

  • toshi richardson

    Hi Maurizio! You are amazing! I am learning so much from you. Thank you! I was wondering if you could explain the tea towel = shiny crust… Do you not flour the tea towel?

    • Thanks Toshi, really appreciate that! I find I get a nice shiny crust when I use very little dusting flour for my proofing baskets. I keep the dough as clean as possible this way. That, in combination with ample steam in the oven, almost always leads to a nice and shiny crust.

      Happy baking!

      • toshi richardson

        Fantastic! Thanks Maurizio! You are the best!

  • Great site! There have been discussions on other sites that fresh milled flour should be aged for a few days to help with gluten development. Any thoughts on this?

    • Thank you! I’ve seen reports of that and perhaps they do have validity to them in regards to gluten development but all of the bread here at my site is milled the day it’s used for baking. I like to use it very fresh, as the flour ages and is exposed to air oxidization diminishes the natural oils present on the fresh milled grain. For me, I want to retain as much of that extra nutrition and taste as possible.

      I do mean to do a side-by-side test of this in the future! You’ll certainly see a writeup here on that 🙂 Thanks again for the comments!

  • sharron sussman

    Ummm, just subscribed & have slipped very far from my original search, which had to do with high levain inoculation percentage doughs. I couldn’t help noticing that you discuss only grain mills and never mention using the “grains” container on a Vitamix, for instance, to turn hard red wheat berries into flour. I have done this when unexpectedly out of flour, and the bread tasted fine.

    If I freeze the berries first and maybe even the container, and then take care to grind as briefly as possible, would the result be even in the same universe as mill-ground flour???

    Your breads look glorious. Your explanations & descriptions are clear and inspiring. Thank you, and I apologize for my ignoramus question, but would really like your opinion…

    Sharron Sussman

    • Sharron — it’s easy to stray into the depths of bread making, believe me! There’s interest at every turn 🙂 I have a Vitamix but don’t have that container with the grain blade option, I’ll have to pick that up and do some testing!

      While I’ve not seen the output from a Vitamix I would not believe it able to produce flour that’s quite as fine as what a burr mill could produce. That said, it doesnt mean the flour wouldn’t make for good bread at all! The results might be different, but it should still make healthy, delicious bread.

      Another idea is you could use your Vitamix to coarsely crack the grain instead of milling it fine. This cracked grain could be soaked in boiling water and then mixed into a dough to add flavor and nutrition — trust me it tastes fantastic.

      Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope this helps somehow!

  • Eric Dillon

    Maurizio, quick question. When you make your stuff levain for this recipe, does it rise much and puff up? Mine puffed up a little in the 6 hours you have here, but it wasn’t as much as what I would have thought. Thanks in advance!


    • it’s not a huge rise, no. You’ll see the dome on top and there will be rise, but go by smell and if you can see the sides you’ll notice significant bubbles at the side and bottom!

  • Aaron Lewis

    If 20% fresh milled is good, why not go on to 100% fresh milled? Differnt but excellent!

    • 100% fresh milled sourdough is a truly exquisite bread, I highly recommend it as well!

  • wendy tien

    Have you been able to achieve this type of open crumb using 100% fresh milled whole grain flour? I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a better crumb on this type of sourdough – I’ve extended the autolyse and changed up the process with only little benefit. Wondering if it is possible with 100% whole grain?

    • It’s challenging to achieve a crumb like this on 100% fresh milled whole grain flour, for sure. I think it’s definitely possible to get a light loaf with that percentage of fresh flour but I also think we need to probably change our expectations when we’re working with that high of a percentage of whole grains. We’ll be very, very hard pressed to see anything like a white loaf, but the flavor and nutrition should be worth the tradeoff!