A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Paul Lebeau, managing director of Wolfgang’s Mockmill, who was visiting Las Vegas for the first ever Artisan Bread Expo. I wasn’t able to attend the event, but Paul was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day to sit down with me for a chat over coffee about grains, sourdough and the benefits of home milling (of course).
Paul’s extensive knowledge of grains is extremely impressive and his passion for home milling is absolutely contagious. We spoke about a variety of subjects but one of the topics that stuck out to me most, is how society’s idea of what makes bread tend to be extremely narrow and how milling flour at home can open up an infinite number of creative possibilities. Ingredients like millet, coffee, lentils, beans, and even dehydrated fruits and vegetables, can be milled into fine flour and make for nutritious, beautiful, and most importantly, delicious bread.
I was so inspired by our conversation that I purchased millet, an ingredient that Paul promised would add a sweet, delicate flavor to whole grain bread, as soon as I got home from our meeting.
Paul was kind enough to send me a step-by-step guide to his preferred method for creating a 100% freshly-milled flour sourdough bread, and gave me permission to publish the guide and my results here on my blog.
Paul’s recipe calls for making a pre-ferment (levain or sponge) the night before your planned bake using 25% of the total flour in the recipe. The remaining 75% of the flour will be used to create a dough that will be autolysed for 90 minutes. The best thing about this method is you can easily incorporate low protein ingredients (mockmilled vegetables, corn, lentils, fruits, ancient grains etc.) into your bread by including them in your pre-ferment, because these will not help with gluten development during autolyse. I opted for millet for my first try.
I used Colorado Windy White Hard White Winter Wheat Berries from Grains from the Plains and millet from Azure Standard. Azure is still my favorite source for grains, they offer such a wide variety and if you can participate in their drop program, you won’t have to pay expensive shipping for your heavy grains. This formula is really really flexible, use it as a guide but feel free to switch up the type of grains and ingredients you use.
You will need a Mockmill for this recipe. If you’re a bread baking addict like me, investing in a mill is a no-brainer. My Mockmill 200, is one of the highest quality, and most fun appliances in my kitchen. My love affair with sourdough has really changed my views on food production which makes me wonder about the number of processes wheat must be put through to go from beautiful little grains to the white powder we are sold in supermarkets. Although I’ve never done this myself if you don’t have a mill (yet), milling flour can be done in a high-powered blender according to The Homemade Flour Cookbook.
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Phew…now on to the recipe!
|25 grams||Starter (100% hydration, can be unfed)||20%|
|375 grams||Hard white wheat||100%|
This is a high hydration recipe, but don’t let that spook you, whole grains can drink up a lot of water and the dough needs it, especially if you are not sifting the bran, which can steal a lot of the water from the recipe.
The night before you are ready to mix your dough, mill millet into flour using a fine setting.
Combine all ingredients in the pre-ferment section, mix well, cover and set aside.
Paul’s instruction call for leaving the pre-ferment at room temperature for 2 hours and then overnight in the fridge, my kitchen tends to be cold so I left mine out all night.
Autolyse (90 minutes)
The next day, mill hard white wheat using the finest setting on your mill. I like to mill my flour until it clumps in my hand, this takes me 2 passes in my Mockmill.
Combine freshly-milled flour and water only for your autolyse. Cover mixture with a plate or damp tea towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds in 20 minute increments, allowing the gluten to relax between each set. Your dough should feel smooth, strong and elastic.
After 90 minutes, add pre-ferment and salt to autolysed dough.
Mix by hand or with a dough scraper until fully combined.
Set aside and let dough rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Bulk fermentation (1 hour)
During bulk fermentation, perform another 3 sets of stretch and folds in 15 to 20 minute increments making sure the dough relaxes in between each set.
Place dough in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator overnight.
This dough is pretty wet, if you find that your dough is too sticky, work on a wet surface instead of using bench flour.
To pre-shape, pull on the side of your dough closest to you and fold it towards the center, thinking of an envelop, pull both sides towards the center as well, and finally the top. Flip your dough over, use your hands to gently rotate and tuck the bottom of the dough.
The goal here is is to begin creating tension in your dough which will help it keep its structure for its final rise.
Let the dough rest on the counter covered with a tea towel for 30 minutes.
Uncover your dough, and shape it however you’d like making sure you create lots of tension without tearing the surface of your dough.
Pick up your dough gently, and place it seem-side up into a banneton or towel-lined bowl dusted with rice flour.
Allow loaf to proof at room temperature until ready to bake.
This step will be dictated by the temperature in your kitchen and the activity in your dough, remember to pay attention to your dough and not the clock.
Once your dough is close to being properly proofed (this usually takes about 2 to 3 hours for me), preheat your oven to 480 F/248 C, with your Dutch Oven inside.
Using a sharp knife, lame or razor blade, cut a large X (or any other design you’d like) on the top of your dough.
Place your scored bread inside your preheated Dutch oven and bake covered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take your loaf out of your Dutch oven and place on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat and bake for another 15 minutes, this is my solution to burnt bottoms!
*** I prefer to bake my bread this way for a lighter crust. If you prefer a darker, thicker crust bake covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for another 20.
Remove bread from the Dutch oven and immediately place on top of a wire rack to cool completely before consuming. Whole grain breads benefit from a lot of patience, if you cut it too soon it will be very gummy, hold off and you’ll be able to enjoy your loaf even more.
What this bread lacks in height, it more than makes up for in it’s robust and complex flavor. There’s nothing quite like the sweet, nuttiness that you get from a whole grain loaf made with minimally processed flour. Even though this bread had a tight crumb, it was in no way dense, evidenced by the tiny little activated air holes throughout the crumb structure.
I really enjoyed using Paul’s method, and am really looking forward to trying it out again using different ingredients, in fact I recently purchased some blue corn from Azure and will be working on a new recipe for it soon!
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Try my other sourdough recipes: