Freshly ground flour rises faster
If you use freshly ground flour with sourdough or yeast, I have gathered some experience and advice in this article.
Freshly ground wholemeal flour is fantastic, it tastes good and is full of all the grain's nutrients - it's healthy. As a baker, it can present some challenges when we bake with sourdough, it can be difficult to manage, all the good nutrients simply give more nutrition to the dough, the sourdough and the bread can rise very quickly. The activity can make the dough less strong and cause the bread to be over-risen before baking, so that it punctures and collapses. The same applies to baking with yeast, but when baking with yeast, the dough is not as sensitive as when we bake with sourdough.
As long as you use 10-15% freshly ground flour, you rarely encounter the big problems. You can feel a difference in the dough, but it is still manageable. As the amount of whole grains straight from the mill increases, the dough will become more difficult to work with. In order to control the development of the dough, so that it does not run wild, we can adjust some parameters.
The dough temperature is lowered by a few degrees, this is done by using slightly cooler water than you normally use. Flour that comes straight from a grinder is lukewarm, it helps to raise the dough temperature, make sure to adjust the water temperature accordingly. 23°C-25°C is a good starting point.
Salt has an inhibitory effect on sourdough. In the amounts we use in baking, salt cannot kill a sourdough or yeast culture, but salt can slow down the rate at which yeast cells and bacteria multiply. If it is difficult to control the dough, you can add salt immediately and not wait until after the auto light. (Autolysis is the resting time the dough stands, from the time flour, water and possibly sourdough and salt are mixed together, until the actual kneading takes place.)
Keep the autolyse short, it is not unusual for the bacteria and yeast cells that live on the freshly ground flour to get started faster than the yeast cells and bacterial cultures we have in the sourdough. Autolysis of 30 minutes is often sufficient. If you use a lot of whole grains and want longer autolysis to give the flour time to absorb liquid, you can use completely cold water and possibly also add salt. For long autolysis times of 1-12 hours, I recommend leaving out the sourdough and adding it after autolysis. For autolysis longer than 2-3 hours, I put the dough in the refrigerator.
Remember to try yourself. There is no one right way and there is no one right outcome. Learn from your mistakes and successes and enjoy the ups and downs of the journey.
Mikael Krogdal February 2021
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