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Flour is the most important component in bread. However, as bakers, we often don’t know much about the processes involved in making it. The growing interest in home milling and heritage grains is making milling more visible, but many aspects of a miller’s craft remain a mystery. To get a better picture of what milling consists of, I contacted two millers in South Australia, whose flours I regularly use with great results, Laucke Flour Mills and Four Leaf Milling. Both agreed to meet me, happy to share their knowledge.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 21.

Buy the issue to read the full article!

Laucke Flour Mills is a family-run company that has been operating in South Australia for over a century and currently has its third generation at the helm. Ensconced in the mill’s baking test lab, I had a fascinating conversation on baking and milling with Martin McLennan. Four Leaf Milling was founded by Rosemary and Gavin Dunn who have been milling organic flour since the 1960s. They are now grooming the younger generation to step in to uphold the tradition of their milling principles.

Four Leaf Milling is a certified producer and miller of organic grains. Laucke Flour Mills processes both organic and conventional grain, with an objective to process both as “cleanly as possible” with the minimum amount of pesticides applied to the harvested grain.1

Both mills have an extensive offering of flour varieties ranging from wheat to the increasingly popular ancient grain types such as spelt.

Differences Between Roller-Milled and Stone-Ground Flours

Milling is the process of breaking wheat kernels into small particles that are refined to various degrees, that is, flour. The method used for doing this is the most notable difference between the two millers: Laucke Flour Mills primarily roller mills the grain while Four Leaf Milling only produces stone-ground flour.

Many people prefer stone-ground flour because they believe it has a higher nutritional content and a better flavor.

Roller milling is the conventional method of milling: the grain is milled using steel rollers and then pushed through consecutive sets of sieves that separate the bran from the endosperm. The process results in a soft, white, refined flour that consists mostly of endosperm—desired by many over the centuries. To make wholemeal flour, millers put a certain percentage of the sifted-out bran back after the initial milling.

Millstones at Four Leaf Milling.
Millstones at Four Leaf Milling.

In stone milling, the different parts of the grain do not get separated but are crushed and distributed together using a pair of millstones. Four Leaf Milling processes the grain through a stone grinder, and all that comes out is used. Compared to roller milling, the temperature of the flour stays cooler, which helps maintain higher protein levels and does not disrupt essential enzyme activity. Many people prefer stone-ground flour because they believe it has a higher nutritional content and a better flavor.

When comparing flours, bakers and millers often talk about extraction rates.

According to Martin McLennan, “The extraction rate is the percentage of the whole grain that remains in the flour.”

So, wholemeal flour should have a 100% extraction rate because it contains all of the bran. In roller milling, this is not strictly true because the bran is added back after the sifting process—whether this was the content of bran found in the initial milling is debatable.

The extraction rate is also a measure of the mill’s efficiency: when making white flour, a good mill can reach an extraction rate of 78-79%. If the number is lower than that, there was either more bran in the milled grain or the endosperm was poorly sifted and got stuck in the bran.

Spelt differs in the sense that, unlike normal wheat, it is harvested with its husk still on it. The husk in spelt needs to be removed while it still has the bran on it and, as a consequence, there is less bran to be found in spelt flour than in wheat flour.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 21.

Buy the issue to read the full article!

Note

  1. In Australia, the organic status of farmed products is taken very seriously. All producers who want to use the label “certified organic” have to go through a series of strict audits which take years to complete, and producers cannot use this label on their products unless they have been approved by the governing regulators of organic produce, regardless of whether their produce has been grown without pesticides.

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