Grinding wheat berries for flour for bread; conversion to ounces?

Lars

Yesterday I started making some whole wheat bread and then realized that I did not have any whole wheat flour. So I proceeded to grind some wheat berries instead. My plan was to make 50% whole wheat Pullman bread.

My first mistake was that I measured the wheat berries with a measuring cup instead of weighing them, even though I have plenty of scales. My recipe calls for measuring the whole wheat flour in cups (2-1/4 cups in this case), but I am unsure how much this would weigh, as I have seen wildly varying conversions, from 4 oz per cup (on King Arthur site) to 4.57 oz. per cup to 5.11 oz. per cup.

My mistake was in not measuring the flour in cups before adding it to the liquid mixture. The last time I ground wheat berries, I measured the flour I got in my cup measuring cups, and so there was no problem, but for some reason, I transferred the ground flour directly into the bowl with the liquid ingredients.

My other mistake was trying to grind 2-1/4 cups of wheat berries all at once in my Vitamix blender dry ingredients container. I noticed quickly that this was not going to work, and so I poured out the top two thirds of the wheat berries into a bowl to be ground separately. Then I continued grinding the remaining 1/3 in the blender. However, it appears that I did not grind this long enough before I dumped the flour into the bowl with the wet ingredients, and so there were a few hard bits of wheat berries left. I should have let this mixture soak for a while 🤷.

The rest of the wheat berries I ground sufficiently into flour, but I still do not know what the measurement of this flour was.

I used my KA mixture to combine all the ingredients, leaving out the last 1/4 cup of white flour, in case I did not need it, but I ended up adding 3 Tbsp to finish the dough. Then I let the dough rest in the mixer bowl covered for half an hour, so that it could hydrate, and then I turned the mixer on again to finish the kneading.

After that, the procedure went as normal, but the bread came out a bit dense, and there are a few crunchy bits in the bread. I don't think that this is too much of a problem, but I would prefer for the crunchy bits not to be in there.

My main question is - what weight of wheat berries should I grind to make the equivalent of 4-1/4 cups of whole wheat flour? I plan to weigh the berries in the future, grind them in batches, and make sure that they are fully ground.

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plllog

I used to use only home milled flour. I never was able to find a really good conversion. Sometimes, with experience, I could wing it by feel. There are just too many variables involved. Even recipes that are given in weights are generally only jumping off places, much improved with careful critique and several tries with tweaks to get it just right.

especially if you're using a grinder instead of a mill, your best bet is to measure out and weigh five different cups of the flour, and average that, to know how much a cup of your own flour weighs. Humidity and the moisture/dryness Of the grain make for big variations.

Do some trial and error to switch your recipes to weight, which is much more accurate. Weight is more accurate with commercial flour, which they have perfected to be very consistent. Home milled will never be that consistent, and ground even less so. With weight, you have fewer variables than volume, and the level of aeration does't matter at all.

you probably more time for autolyze, and with fresh milled grains, you should really soak at least 8 hours. That is, make your preferment the normal way, and add the rest of the water to the remaining flour to “soak”.

Keep at it. Your hands will learn this new to them bread. Adjust and try again. Write down your tweaks. Write down your critiques. You'll get there.

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Lars

Are you saying that I should soak the wheat berries before grinding them? I was considering that, but then I also thought that perhaps I should just soak the flour in water overnight before using it. Since I was using only 50% whole wheat, there would be plenty of liquid for me to soak that amount of whole wheat flour.

Kevin liked the bread, and so I'm thinking that I might repeat the process of under-grinding part of the wheat berries and make sure to soak all of the whole wheat for a few hours. Do I need to do this in the refrigerator, or can it be left out overnight?

I've noticed that I have to adjust my bread recipes between the desert environment and the beach environment.

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plllog

No. Soaking the wheatberries will make them too soft, and you'll get slurry instead of flour, and it will be hard to control the hydration. Yes, soak the flour, but in the amount of water you want to use for the recipe. It may seem crumbly dry, but just make sure it's as well mixed as you can. It'll be nice and moist at the end of the soaking period. I think I'd soak all the flour, rather than just the WW, but that's something to experiment with. Maybe the white would be greedy and soak it all up before the WW had a chance. Best of both worlds, soak the ww, then do an hour autolyze after mixing the rest.

Do soak the WW for at least 8 hrs. Overnight is good. This is even more important if you have little chunks you’re trying to soften. An alternative to having coarsely ground bits of wheat, would be to mix in some interesting other whole grain, like millet. Just toss it into the soak. It's very nice. I've also used amaranth, buckwheat groats, various seeds and whatever took my fancy. Just keep to a small enough quantity that it doesn't impede the rise.

Don't chill it unless your baking day gets postponed more than a day or two, and you think you'll get mold. Just cover your vessel, and leave it on the counter.

Ambient humidity does make a big difference. I know you baked professionally, but I can't remember what. IME, all that “baking is chemistry” cliche stuff is about cake (which includes quickbreads and cookies). You have to have the right specific ingredients, in the right quantities, with the right methods under the right circumstances, to get a replicable product. Breads are different. They're much more about art, about adjusting for how dry your flour is, how dry the air, how active the yeast. You know there’s enough flour or water when it feels right. Pastry seams somewhere in between.

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Lars

At the restaurant in San Francisco where I baked desserts and coffee cakes, I also made yeast cinnamon rolls, and these were a challenge because of how cold the kitchen was. I worked graveyard (11pm to 7am or 8-9am if I made cinnamon rolls), and if I decided to make cinnamon rolls, I had to start them right when I got to work. I don't know what temperature the kitchen was, but it was 55° outside usually when I was at work, and the kitchen was extremely drafty. There were no warm areas for me to allow yeast dough to rise.

I'll try soaking the whole wheat flour next time before adding any white flour. When I make rye bread, I soak the caraway or fennel seeds before adding them, but I also grind them first, as Kevin as told me that he does not like whole caraway seeds. I love the caraway flavor, and so I grind them in a coffee grinder or use my immersion blender, which does just as good a job. I bought a new immersion blender for the L.A. house that is good for this, and I took the old immersion blender (plus the coffee mill spice grinder) to Cathedral City. I think I bake more bread there than here.

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plllog

Yeah, that pesky yeast thing. :) Usually, restaurant kitchens are warm if the range is on, so they're not usually heated, and a restaurant's worth of dough probably is too big for the classic bowl on the simmering pot of water. :) But it's the same with baking bread. Yeast gets sleepy when cold and dies when hot. Gently warm and it wants to crawl all over the kitchen. I daresay it'll all come back to you as you bake more bread.

Great idea to grind the seeds!

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Lars

I found this conversion table, which says that one cup of flour equals 128 grams of wheat berries, or 4.5 ounces. I might go with this conversion.

OTOH, I may continue to measure the wheat berries as I did, since the proportion came out okay. I will weigh a cup of wheat berries next time to see how far off it is from 4.5 ounces.

Someone on this site says "One cup of ‘hard-red’ wheat berries weighs 7 ounces (checked on my digital scale)." I really doubt that measurement and will weigh it myself. However, if 5 gallons of wheat weigh 33.2 pounds, then one cup would weigh 6.64 ounces. At most, it seems that a cup of whole wheat flour would weigh 5.11 ounces, from what I've read so far. I'll have to weigh a cup of whole wheat flour the next time I have some.

I don't remember whether I bought "hard-red" wheat berries or not, but I thought that I did. I have them stored in a vacuum-sealed container in my refrigerator in the garage.

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plllog

I wouldn't go with a published table or blog post. I tried years ago, while trying to wrap my head around the whole process, and none agreed with my own measures. Those aren't your wheatberries, and not your grind size/aeration and it can't be accurate. It shouldn't be an onerous task to measure your own and write it down, so your plan to weigh your own sounds a lot better to me. When you said "whole wheat flour", I hope you meant your home ground flour. Commercial flour is finer and has a different weight to volume ratio.

What I did instead was weigh my milled flour and convert recipes where needed to grams. Then it's easy to weigh out the wheatberries, add a few grams for loss in process, then weigh out the flour. Or just round up by a handful and put the excess in a jar for feeding starter or adding to a French style recipe (5% whole wheat to 95% unbleached is a common conversion).

As to the type of wheat, red wheat is a rich red-brown. White wheat is more in the beige range. Most soft wheat we see is white, though there is also red. Soft is significantly lower protein and better for cakes and quickbreads where you don't want to develop the gluten. AP is a combination of soft and hard wheat. I like to combine hard red wheat and hard white, with different proportions depending on what I'm making. The red has a stronger flavor. When it's freshly ground it's much sweeter than standard ww flour. You most likely have hard red wheat. It's the most common. If you decide to leap into this big time, Palouse has excellent wheatberries (most of what I have is theirs, including hard red, hard white and soft white), and I think Central Milling sells wheatberries as well (they have excellent flour).

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Lars

This is what I bought - I had to look it up on Amazon, since I did not save the original bag.

I'm not going to trust a published table or blog post, since they are all over the place with measurements. I also think that I am going to skip weighing altogether, since measuring with cups is easier, and the proportions I got seemed to work.

I do not see a huge advantage to using wheat berries and will go back to using whole wheat flour already milled after I finish with the wheat berries that I have. I bought them last year mainly because I could not find whole wheat flour in the market, and I want to use the dry container in my Vitamix. Whole wheat flour is now more readily available - the shortages lasted only for a few months. For a while, white flour was also difficult (but not impossible) to find. Gelson's put a limit on how much one could buy at one time, and that helped them keep inventory on their shelves.

Normally, I use 100% white whole wheat flour when making whole wheat bread, as that has given me the best and more flavorful results.

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plllog

Checking your order is definitely better than guessing. ;). Home milled, IMHO, is a big leap superior to packaged WW, but I know you don't have room to want a mill, and the Vita-Mix sounds better than resorting to batter bread, but not easy, nor ideal. If you're satisfied with commercial flour, and can get it, there's no reason to change. I never liked the KAWW. Cloud Swift has been using a WW flour from Central Milling, in Utah. They have a variety of types, and have home use sized bags back in stock, if you're interesting in trying something different.

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