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I grind some of the wheat I use baking. I have a NutriMill and the wheat I have been grinding is from Wheat Montana, both their Bronze Chief (which is a hard red spring wheat) and Prairie Gold (which is a hard white spring wheat).
I was curious as to whether the stuff I produce is as fine as the factory milled. Wheat Montana also sells flour. I purchased a 5 lb bag of their flour to compare to the stuff my mill produces. The home ground stuff is very close to the same fineness, with the added benefit that with the home milled stuff I get all the bran and the germ.
I have found that using 100% home ground whole wheat makes for a very dense loaf. I usually mix home ground with white flour (usually AP or bread flour) in a ratio of one part home ground to 5 parts AP.
I also grind my own rice flour and flours from other grains with this mill.
I use a K-Tec (now sold as Blendtec). Its biggest drawback is that it is pretty noisy (most are!). It is an impact mill and will process about 1.5 pounds of wheat a minute. Good unit! The K-Tec has adjustable grind to go from superfine to moderately fine. It does not create mill. It mills in one pass.
As important than fineness is the temperature of the flour as it comes out. The Vita Mix or even a spice/coffee grinder can grind wheat but because it keeps putting energy into the same flour the flour can get hot and lose nutrients. While the Vita Mix does a pretty good job, food processors and spice grinders tend to give very uneven results.
There are quite a few good mills around but they tend to be expensive. Stand alone units tend to be $200-500 range. Kitchen Aid has a mill that is getting decent reviews for about $100. It is my impression that it is best to make fine flour by using multiple passes whereas the Nutrimill or K-Tec will do it in one.
While I know people who do 100% home ground WW bread, it is not for the casual baker. You only need 5-10% fresh ground flour to really change the nature of your bread (or a pizza dough).
I use a Vita Mix acquired 35 years ago at a flea market and have used it ever since with no repairs. It can grind anything you can think of, but it makes quite a racket while working. I make very fine white corn meal as well as flours from whole wheat, brown rice, rye, barley, oats, spelt, and rocks. OK, I haven't actually tried rocks! I think it's a lot faster than a mill and it also makes great frozen daiquiris while you are waiting for the loaves to come out of the oven. I have never tried to grind very fine flours other than corn meal because I don't see the point. All of my breads include some commercial unbleached white AP or bread flour to avoid overly dense loaves, and it's a lot easier to buy these products than to try to make them myself.
Texassourdough is right about the Vita Mix heating up the grain as it works, but it never gets as hot as the dough does while cooking in the oven, so I doubt that nutrient loss is an issue.
The Vita Mix is basically a blender on steroids. My old unit can run both forward and reverse directions and is able to switch direction almost instantly. I don't think Vita Mix currently makes a unit that runs both directions like that.
The biggest challenge with grinding wheat is you end up with what is called 'green" flour which needs to oxidize before it will make great bread. The "problem" with heating the flour excessively is that it supposedly oxidizes the flour. Huh???? Obviously that is in conflict!
You're right. I am spouting a conventional line when I talk about heat and nutrition. It probably is worth thinking about the temperature profile though. Impact mills (at least with other materials) create rather high temperatures on a local scale. The temperature at tiny points will at times be much higher than the overall temperature of the flour. My daughter has a Vitmix and I am going to be buying her the dry mill when Vitamix comes to my Costco store next month. I will defintely test it out and have much more meaningful personal experience after that.
A neat "trick" that I think really boosts bread quality is adding about 5% fresh ground wheat. It adds a subtle aroma that is really nice!
Jay, Here's a link to a page over at "The Fresh Loaf", if one scrolls down to the 3rd posting or so there is a statement wherein it is claimed that one should either use freshly milled flour within eight hours or wait a couple of weeks for the flour to naturally oxidize. The speaker claims that they got that information from Peter Reinhart. Perhaps Peter will comment and set us all straight?
The NutriMill is a noisy beast as well. I try to mill several weeks before my last milled flour runs out. I then mill up 8 to 10 pounds of wheat berries. Some goes to friends who also bake but most gets comsumed right here at home.
I remember that discussion but "other reading" had overwritten that factoid in my brain! There is a certain logic to that suggestion by Peter.
I don't do pure WW very often and I don't bolt my home milled flour so I have never tried to make a loaf from purely freshly milled wheat. I simply don't use my fresh milled flour that way. The only personal observation I can make is that I have seen no effect on loaf look, volume, rise, etc. from using up to about 15% fresh milled flour (of the total flour).
I am toying with making a miche soon and I might do two - one organic stone ground WW (aged) and one fresh milled. The real trick would be to make a third - out of week old home milled flour!
I think most of the mills will do a good enough job milling. If you want to go with 100 % whole wheat dough for pizza, you will need to go high hydration ( such as 80 to 85%) or add wheat gluten. I am currently using 50% red spring and 50 % white hard winter, but still experimenting, and usually mill and make the dough the same day . Any excess flour I save in the freeze