Freshly Milled Flour Takes Bakers Back to Their Roots

A wheat revolution is growing: Bakeries across the US have begun taking a page from yesteryear’s cookbooks to reclaim long-estranged fiber and nutrients in their baked goods. For most of human history, flour was made by grinding the entire wheat kernel—made up of a fibrous outer layer (the bran), a starchy middle layer (the endosperm), and a vitamin-rich center (the germ). In contrast, many modern bakers use white flour, which is produced by leaving out the bran and germ and grinding only the endosperm to create a shelf-stable starch that is then enriched with vitamins and nutrients. Even what we know as “whole wheat” flours and products often only include small amounts of wheat bran, and wheat germ is entirely omitted because it contains oils that reduce shelf life. Unfortunately, this means that many “wheat” products are devoid of their natural fiber, enzymes, minerals, and antioxidants. But all is not lost. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, some bakers are combating these sub-par flour conditions using these age-old tricks:

  • GIY (grind it yourself). Some bakers are enlisting the help of a miller or grinding their own flour to make the whole-kernel variation.
  • Fresh is best. Whole-kernel flour is valued for its aroma and flavor, but it doesn’t have a long shelf life like its white counterpart. It must be used within a week; after that, it must be stored in the freezer to preserve its flavor and prevent it from spoiling.
  • A good rise. Another key technique to these prized loaves and goodies is a 24 to 48 hour rise, which helps break down the gluten and makes them easier to digest.

If you’re beginning to lust after these great grain treats, chances are there’s a bakery nearby that would satisfy your craving. But if not, you can make your own: Companies such as Community Grains, Grist & Toll, and Carolina Ground offer their fresh whole-kernel flours online.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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