I have been using ancient grains in my kitchen for many years now, but there is a learning curve when you are making the switch from modern white flours to heartier ancient grains like einkorn, kamut, spelt, and more. Laura of @lauralivesthegoodlife is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to baking sourdough bread, using different types of flours, and milling your own grains. If you have questions about the differences between these flours and how to use them, this is the episode for you! We share tons of tips on incorporating ancient grains into your everyday recipes while still enjoying delicious and nutrient-dense baked goods.
In this episode, we cover:
- A historical overview of how today’s flour became lacking in nutrients
- Why making the switch to ancient grains is beneficial to your health
- How ancient grains behave differently in baking and how to adjust your method
- A gradual approach to switching from modern wheat to ancient grains
- How to choose which type of ancient grains to use
- Tips for achieving delicious, beautiful loaves without using light and fluffy modern flour
- Ways to utilize bread that doesn’t turn out how you had planned
Thank you to our sponsors!
Toups and Co Organics uses nourishing, organic ingredients to create simple and safe skincare products. Toups and Co is offering my listeners 10% off any one purchase with the code FARMHOUSE. Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today. And check out my interview with the founder of Toups and Co, Emilie, to find out more about this amazing company and their products.
Mockmill makes high quality countertop grain mills to empower you to easily mill nutritionally superior whole grain flour, fresh at home. You can save 5% on your purchase of any of their grain mills by clicking the link at FarmhouseonBoone.com/Mockmill. To see why I love my Mockmill, check out this review video.
Laura is a wife and mom of four who is passionate about gut health, all things sourdough and nourishing her family through whole foods. Laura enjoys getting her kids in the kitchen and cultivating an atmosphere of love, learning and creativity in her home.
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. I’m in my impromptu studio. I’m always moving all over the place with this podcast. You never know where I’m going to be. Going to try to make this more of a permanent home for the podcast which means I probably need to take down a few of the craft supplies and science projects that my kids have going on in the background here. We finally got new internet and now it actually works out here in the cottage, which means that it’s quiet. At least when I don’t have Theodore, which I have right now. But normally—and all through this interview upcoming—I have this space to myself during nap time. And so this will hopefully be the new home. Today I’m bringing on Laura from @lauralivesthegoodlife over on Instagram. We are going to talk about flour. So I get a lot of questions asking me, “When do you use einkorn? When do you use kamut? When do you use whole grain? When do you use all-purpose? How do they behave different in recipes? How do you get a fluffy loaf of whole grain bread? Why would you want to?” So that’s what we’re going to talk about. She has so much scientific information to share. So sometimes in my kitchen I know that things work, but I don’t exactly know why. It’s nice to hear why things work the way they do. All right. Well, I promise you that for the interview, Theo is not with me. It’s a nice, calm interview. Let’s dive in.
Lisa Bass My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way.
Lisa Bass Hey, Laura.
Laura Tuttle Hi.
Lisa Bass Thank you so much for agreeing to be on the podcast. I’m really excited to have you on. First, let’s start by introducing you and what you talk about on your Instagram or wherever else you want to point to. And then we can talk about what we’re going to actually be diving into today.
Laura Tuttle Sure. So I am on Instagram. That is my main platform. I live in Utah. I’m a mom of four kids, and I’m super passionate about all things gut health, real food, getting back to how we used to live and just supporting our bodies through good nutrition and raising kids and getting them in the kitchen and and doing fun things with them and making our home life this bubble of just love and goodness and somewhere where my kids can come that’s a safe landing spot as I prepare them to go out in the world.
Lisa Bass Cool. Yeah. Sounds like a really great thing to follow along with. On your Instagram, I notice that you talk a lot about flours and baking and sourdough and all that kind of stuff, so I thought we could dive into that. There is a specific question that I actually got from a listener that I’m basing this episode on. So I’m going to go ahead and read that and we can dive into it, if that sounds good to you.
Laura Tuttle Sure.
Lisa Bass Okay. So here’s the question: “I’m wondering if you could do a podcast episode on grinding different wheat berries. I’m purchasing my first grain mill and only want to use ancient grains. I’ve been using all-purpose einkorn for a while now and I’m going to be purchasing einkorn berries as well as kamut. I’ve heard you mention using kamut on your YouTube channel and was wondering your thoughts. Is it similar to einkorn as far as how it behaves with baking? Will using freshly milled einkorn be a little different than using all-purpose einkorn? So basically, any info you have on grinding fresh ancient grains would be wonderful.” So I thought that we would dive into that, which this is a thing that I’ve experimented with a lot. I’m hoping to get some of your opinions on it as well. And yeah, people have a lot of questions about these grains because they’re so much healthier for your gut. So you talk about gut health. Do you first want to talk a little bit about why ancient grains are good?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. So if we start from the very beginning, go way back, I mean, wheat is called the staff of life for a reason. It’s sustaining. It’s nutritious. It was in the tombs in ancient Egypt. They found wheat kernels. There were pictures showing the wheat harvest. So wheat is part of life; it has been forever and ever. And then ancient civilizations all around the world had different variations of wheat, but every culture kind of had their own spin on it. So it’s been around forever. It’s grown more than any other crop. It’s traded more than any other crop. And every ancient civilization, they’ve used it. And it started out that they would grind it with stone and mortar and pestle and things like this. And then something happened. We got further in the industrialized era, and in the 1800s, something changed. So we went from stone ground wheat to mills being powered with water and wind and things like that. And then steel mills were invented in the late 1800s and that made it so that we could produce wheat at bigger quantities and faster and quicker than ever before. So it was this new way of doing things, which was great. It was able to produce wheat for vast majorities of people, where it was basically local before then. And so this new flour that was produced at a high speed with these steel mills, it actually could separate the bran and the germ. So what they were left with was the middle, which is the endosperm, which is strictly the starch. So that was kind of the industrialized revolution of wheat—one of the biggest that we’ve seen—that got us white flour. So now we’ve got this white flour, which is— I mean, people loved it for various reasons. It made their bakes light and fluffy. And it’s a really versatile type of flour. And so it has all these benefits. And then it also is shelf stable for longer. And so with that, we kind of made a trade though. So we turned in nutrition for kind of ease and getting it out there. Do you know what I mean? So there was a tradeoff that happened. So what happened? It became very popular. People loved it. But then the interesting thing is that they realized that people were starting to get deficient in certain nutrients that were found in wheat. And so when this happened, they realized that about a third of people’s nutrition for thiamin and some of these really good vitamins were now lacking. And so diseases like beriberi were popping up, anemia, things like that. So there was a big convention that happened where they got together and said, “Okay, this is happening.” They knew it was from the wheat and it was like, “We can either go back to whole wheat or we can start adding in vitamins to this white flour.” And then the cereal and bread industries were like, “Oh, wait, hang on, hang on.” They did not want to go back to whole wheat. They said it would diminish the quality of their products. And so they fought for white wheat to stay around. And so it did. It was kind of a done deal when synthetic thiamin was invented. And so then they started enriching flour. And so when they did that, it kind of took care of those deficiencies. But that also comes with its own tradeoff. Now we’ve got synthetic vitamins being put into white flour, and we’re still not back to that excellent nutrition that the whole grain offered. And so here we are at kind of this crossroads. But we never really went back to whole grains. So there’s so much nutrition in whole grains. So the reason why people would want to grind their own grains and use these ancient grains— and really, what is an ancient grain? So ancient grains are anything that hasn’t been hybridized in the last at least 100 years, possibly even centuries. There’s several of them. There’s kamut, which we’ll go into a little bit more depth on that. There is einkorn and spelt, these different ancient grains that just haven’t been hybridized over the years. So the reason that you would want to grind your own flour is because of the nutrition. I mean, it packs a punch in these little tiny grain kernels. You’ve got the kernel of grain which is made up of the bran, and the bran is like the outer layer. That’s where all the fiber is. It’s a great source of fiber. It’s got B vitamins, it’s got iron and copper and all these great things that when we’re stripping that grain, we lose all of that. And then the other part is the germ. The germ is— if you consider it like an egg, the germ would be the yolk. And it’s got its own amazing nutrients like fat and antioxidants, and all this great stuff is housed in there. And that’s got the germ oil. So when we go through this process of making a white refined flour, we take the germ, we take the bran out of that, and we’re just left with the endosperm, which is the biggest part of the grain kernel. It’s also the starchiest part, and that’s what we’re left with, and that’s what white flour is. So people that really want to get the whole nutrition— if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of flour, you’ll want to use a whole grain and an ancient grain because it hasn’t been changed over the years.
Lisa Bass Yes.
Laura Tuttle So that’s why you would want to and kind of the evolution of how it has happened over the years and kind of how we are where we are now.
Lisa Bass Okay. So I’ve heard over the years or read over the years from a few different sources—maybe like the Weston Price type stuff—that there’s a lot of antinutrients bound up in the outside part of the bran of the grain. And so some argue that if you aren’t going to sour a grain—so if you aren’t going to either put it with something acidic like yogurt or kefir or apple cider vinegar and do like a souring for several hours before consuming the grain or preparing the grain, or sourdough—that you would be better off using an all-purpose. Are you familiar with that or do you have anything to say about that?
Laura Tuttle So I don’t necessarily think it would be better to use an all-purpose because you still are going to get those vitamins and minerals. So I think a whole wheat always outweighs traditional white refined flour. However, 100% I agree with soaking, sprouting as being the most nutritious way to do it. So sourdough is great for that. It does it naturally. The B vitamins are increased. The enzymes that work in your stomach are increased. Just the nutrition is like a powerhouse when you go through the extra step of doing sourdough or sprouting and things like that.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And then another consideration with the ones— like with the ancient grains, the ancient whole grains is because they haven’t been hybridized, they don’t behave the same in recipes. So with kamut and with einkorn, they don’t get these stretchy gluten bonds or whatever you want to call it that make the dough— you know, when you stretch and fold and you pull it all the way up and it’s like 36 inches in the air, you can’t do that with the ancient grains. And so I think people get discouraged, and I get lots of messages like, “Well, why won’t mine turn out this way?” And I think we have to understand—like those cereal companies that didn’t want to change it—we have to be okay with and become familiar with the taste and texture of whole grains because it is different. And so like with mine, I—for my blog photography—I do all-purpose. And the reason for that is I could never get my recipes to rank with the photographs—like to rank on Google with the photography—with whole grain. And I don’t like that. But the truth is people are so used to seeing these big fluffy breads, and so they bypass my recipes that can be adjusted for whole grain, and I like making them with whole grain, but they aren’t the same. And just like the cereal companies, I can’t get anybody to buy aka click on my recipe if it isn’t fluffy and beautiful. And that’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a couple of years actually. I used to do all of my photography with whole grain. And then once I started photographing them with all-purpose, now of course they’re way more popular. And so I don’t even know like what I’m trying to say here. Just how do we get to the point where we are appreciating them for what they are instead of feeling like we need to have the fluffiest, stretchiest— like that beautiful Instagram dough, you just don’t get that with einkorn, with kamut— well, especially with those, but any time you do a whole grain, that’s just not the same. And we can go into all that.
Laura Tuttle Yes. And I know 100% what you’re talking about. If I’m making a photo for Instagram, I’m going to make it the most beautiful loaf. I’m not going to show my whole wheat loaf. I think it looks amazing. However, it’s not going to get the clicks like you’re talking about. So I totally understand that, 100%. So I have three takeaways for baking with whole wheat. And the first one is just what you were starting to talk about, which is to set your expectations. But keep in mind that whole grain is going to have a complex taste, it’s going to have this hearty texture. But going into that, looking at it like it’s a benefit instead of less superior— and I think a lot of that comes to education. Yes, this is a whole wheat loaf. But here’s why. Here’s what I want to feed my kids. And it can be hard to switch if you’re used to just eating a white bread. It can be hard to be like, “Okay, now I’m going to switch to 100% whole wheat. We’re going to eat this.” That’s tough. And so it does take kind of a mind shift where you’re like, “Okay, I’m getting these amazing benefits. It’s not less superior.” And I think another thing is how I was talking about educating is a really big part of it— explaining the whys, explaining the benefits. But tell your kids, like, “This bread is a little bit more brown, but we’re getting the germ and we’re getting the bran. And here’s what those are. And here’s what makes white flour white. It gets sifted, but we’re losing all those really good nutrients, too.” So explaining it, understanding that there’s kind of a learning curve with it. So my first takeaway would be to set your expectation. Just know that it’s going to be really complex and hearty and delicious in its own right.
Lisa Bass Definitely.
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Lisa Bass When it comes to milling whole grains, I find that whole wheat and einkorn are two totally— like, whole wheat conventional today, like buying a 50 pound bag of Wheat Montana hard white berries, and then buying a 50 pound bag of einkorn berries and grinding them— these behave 100% differently. If you are first starting to bake with whole grains—at least in my experience—the whole grains that aren’t ancient are super straightforward. You can pretty much swap them out one for one with all-purpose flour recipes. They will be heartier, but they at least have these stretchy, elastic gluten structure. You’re definitely missing out on the health benefits of the ancient grains. But what are your— I guess let’s talk about that. What are some of your tips for starting to switch over to ancient grains and how are they different in baking?
Laura Tuttle Yes. So that is my second takeaway, which is to start small. Like I said, if you’re used to using all-purpose or bread flour, it would be really hard to just switch over one day and do 100% whole wheat. And you’re like, “What on earth? It’s like I’ve never baked before. This is performing totally different. What’s going on?” So you don’t have to do that. You can start small where you use a quarter of your freshly milled kamut or einkorn or whatever you’re choosing, and then use three quarter of the flour that you’re typically used to. So you’re still getting some of the benefit, you’re still getting the good rise, but you’re kind of watching as you go how this performs differently. And then when you kind of get that down, you can switch more. Do half and half, and then see how that looks and feels and performs, and take it slow. Jumping straight into bread is really hard. I mean, it just is a big learning curve, kind of a little bit of a roller coaster, trial and error as you do it. So you can even do this with muffins or waffles. And this can be as you’re getting used to those more rich, nutty flavors that some of these ancient grains have. So it’s helpful to start with things that are easy— bread being on the hard end of the spectrum. So muffins, waffles, pancakes— start there with your percentages. Start with a small amount of your freshly milled whole grain and bigger part with all-purpose flour. And then up those ratios as you get used to it and kind of understand how it works.
Lisa Bass So when you are baking with something like einkorn or kamut, are you using specific recipes or do you have any tips for converting traditional wheat flour recipes over to those ancient grains? And if so, what are some of your key tips for that?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. So if you’re just starting and you just look up a recipe specifically made for that type of flour, for sure, that’s easier if somebody has already done the work for you. If you have a tried and true recipe that you love, that you’re like, “Ah, but I really want to get this in it.” So with kamut— and actually if we can just talk about kamut for just a second— a lot of people are trying to find kamut, and they’re like, “I can’t find it anywhere. It’s so hard to source.” It can be. But also keep in mind that kamut is a brand name. The actual grain is called khorasan.
Lisa Bass What? I had no idea.
Laura Tuttle And so if you’re searching for some, looking for khorasan rather than kamut, you might have better luck. So it would be like Band-aid. If you just search for Band-Aid, it’s actually a brand. It’s not the— like an adhesive, you know what I mean? So kamut is the brand and khorasan is the actual grain. So if you do a search for khorasan, you might be able to find it if you can’t source kamut, and they are the same thing, they are out of Montana basically. Anyway, so that’s something to keep in mind with kamut. And I actually try to refer to it as khorasan and not kamut just so the actual true name actually gets out there. So, okay, that’s a little bit about kamut. When you use kamut, it needs to be slightly less flour than you’re used to. So if you’re doing a straight over conversion of kamut, you would use 3/4 to 7/8 of a cup for one cup of regular flour. So it takes slightly less. And then most ancient grains absorb slower. So doing an autolyse or a soaking period really helps because it’s going to— a white flour just absorbs right away, like it’ll soak up that water immediately, where a whole wheat soaks up more slowly. So doing your initial making the dough of the recipe and getting it mixed and then letting it sit for 30 minutes or so, and then you can really tell, okay, it soaked up all that liquid. We’re good to go. Or it actually needs a little bit more liquid. So letting it sit for a period of time, about 30 minutes, is a really good gauge.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I love that tip about ancient grains absorbing the fats and the liquids more slowly because at first I always would either add a bunch more flour or a lot less liquid. And usually it’s just sometimes that it needs more time. I don’t know about you, but I do feel like with einkorn I still cut down the liquid a little bit.
Laura Tuttle Correct. Absolutely. Yes, that’s true. Yeah. And if you were to make a standard flour recipe, same exact way, side by side with an ancient grain recipe and you baked them, the ancient grain recipe would look really dry and crumbly. So you do have to adjust liquid as far as that goes.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So with whole grain or somebody who wants to adjust recipes—so regular recipes but then make them with a whole grain flour—what would be your recommendations? Like, okay, so whenever you mill something, it’s very fluffy. And so a cup of compacted flour in a sack from the grocery store versus a cup of flour that has just like fluffed out of your mill into a bowl is very different. So how do you account for those variations?
Laura Tuttle So the best way to do that would be to weigh it, because that’s going to be the same no matter what. And I take cheater— cheat cuts all the time. I do things as simply as I can. And so I don’t always weigh, but that’s a really good way. That’s the most precise way. And so I often will do like a scoop and sift method. That helps too. But weighing is for sure the most accurate way.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah, definitely. Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about a few of the actual components of the different grains such as protein content, gluten structure, elasticity, rise, crumb. I saw that you had a post, I believe, on Instagram that went into this and that inspired this section of the podcast. Because that’s something to understand, too, when you’re thinking about making something with kamut or einkorn and how it behaves differently. A lot of it has to do with the gluten structure and some of these other considerations. So let’s talk first about kamut and the protein content, the gluten structure, how it behaves differently when it comes to recipes. I think it’s kind of hard to find—or no, khorasan, sorry—recipes online. So yeah, let’s talk through some of that— kamut and its different components.
Laura Tuttle Okay. So yeah, kamut khorasan uses less flour. So if you are converting it, like I said, about 7/8 of a cup to 3/4 of a cup because it is going to get solid really quick. And like we were talking about, if you’re doing your stretch and folds, it just doesn’t stretch as much. So kamut khorasan has about 16% protein, which is on the high end. That’s for sure on the high end, where all-purpose flour is usually 8 to 11%, in that ballpark. And all-purpose flour—for those that don’t know—it’s called all-purpose because it’s meant to be used in a variety of applications. So it can be used for cookies, for bread, for cakes, things like that. It was made for the home baker to have a variety of uses. So that’s why it has that protein of 8 to 11%. It’s a real mid-range protein, so it can do a little bit of everything. So bread flour, the protein is even higher, 12 to 14%. It’s made specifically for bread. That’s why it’s called that. They know that these gluten structures are going to form and it’s going to be able to stretch and rise, have really good structure. So for bread, I mean, that is ideal for the pretty bakery worthy loaves that photograph so well. That’s why. It is made for that. And then kamut, 16% protein. It’s amazing to use. I still feel like— I mean, it just depends. When I see something, I’m like, this has nutrition plus a good crumb plus a good rise. You know what I mean? And so you just have to know that it’s going to be a slightly tighter crumb. The rise might be slightly lower, but you can still get there with it. If your technique is good—as far as shaping a loaf—you will still get a beautiful loaf.
Lisa Bass So do you have any tried and true recipes for a bread?
Laura Tuttle Yeah, I use kamut for all mine. So any of mine can use kamut. I guess we should specify that all of these grains can have whole wheat or there can be a white version. So I actually purchase all-purpose kamut, which is just the white kamut. And then I also purchase kamut/khorasan grains and I grind my own for my whole wheat. So I’ll do a combo loaf where I’ll do half whole wheat commute and then half of white kamut. So you can play with it. Have fun with it. Find that happy medium where you’re like, “Yeah, I’m using half bread flour, but I’m using half einkorn,” or whatever flour you like. You can find that happy place where you’re like, “I’ve got the best of both worlds here. I’m getting a good rise. I’m getting the nutrition.” Find what you like best.
Lisa Bass So how is kamut compared to einkorn on the stretchiness? So I know like with einkorn, you don’t do a stretch and fold, you do like a very— I forget what the technique is actually called. You fold it, but you don’t stretch it way up because it doesn’t do that. How is that compared with kamut?
Laura Tuttle Yeah, if we were to say there’s a scale of easy-to-use flours, hard-to-use flours, spelt and einkorn are two of the more difficult to use.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I’ve found that.
Laura Tuttle And then kamut is easier and more like a traditional. And then whole wheat and then white flours, like all-purpose and bread flours.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah.
Laura Tuttle So kamut is easier as far as you can still do like a stretch and fold. And then kamut is difficult because if you add too much water, and it gets crumbly in the final bake. There’s kind of that fine line. And then another thing to point out that sometimes handling the dough too much is not a good thing when it comes to whole grains—whole grain flour—because it has the bran in there. The bran almost acts as little razor blades that will cut through the gluten strands. And that’s another reason why you find it falling or being more dense. So a light hand with whole wheat— which I think is a little counterintuitive; you think you need to knead extra, to get it soft or you think you need to do more stretches or more coil folds, whatever, depending on what technique you’re doing. But actually, a really light hand with whole wheat goes a long way as to not stir up that bran too much.
Lisa Bass Okay. Interesting. I know it’s like that with einkorn. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with kamut, but with einkorn I know that more kneading means it even gets stickier.
Laura Tuttle Correct.
Lisa Bass And so you actually— yeah, ends up being opposite of what you think.
Laura Tuttle Yes.
Lisa Bass Where are you sourcing your khorasan from?
Laura Tuttle So I am lucky enough to have a source right here in Utah. It’s grown in Idaho. Khorasan is usually grown in Idaho or Montana. And so there’s a website, it’s KhorasanMills.com. They do ship. It just happens to be local to me so I can run out and get it. But it’s an amazing source. He has great flours on there. All kinds of flours.
Lisa Bass Oh, that’s good to know. I know for sure you get it from Azure Standard as well. For people, if it ends up being more cost effective for you or if you’re used to going to an Azure drop, that’s something you can add on. I have definitely purchased it in bulk from there. So. Okay, let’s talk about if someone wants to— say they have— I don’t know if you, but we have local Amish communities and you can get big bags of hard wheat, white, red, soft, all those other kinds of wheat. And so if they’re looking to source that—it’s not an ancient grain—what would be your tips for that? Like which one to start with with all those options?
Laura Tuttle So I would think about what you’re going to make most with it and getting the whole grain. Even though it’s not an ancient grain, you’re still doing so much better. You know what I mean? You’re still getting that amazing whole grain, even if it’s not kamut or einkorn. So still feel really good about that. You’re doing awesome.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Laura Tuttle So most people pick between soft wheat or hard wheat, and it’s literally called that because if you were to crunch on it, one’s soft, one’s hard. So that is why it’s called that. White wheat, it has more starch and less gluten. It’s more and all-around, so good for cakes, pastries, desserts, things like that. Hard wheat is typically used more for bread. So if you’re mainly going to use it for bread, that’s a great way to go. So it just depends what you’re going to do.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I agree. When I purchase it, usually I’m trying to keep it pretty simple because I will get like buckets of grain in my spot in my house where I keep grain, and I’ll forget what’s what. I’m terrible at labeling. And so I try to do things like hard white wheat will work for both. Soft white wheat will not work for bread, whereas hard white wouldn’t be ideal, but will work for the cakes and all that kind of stuff. And so I would go with that.
Laura Tuttle Exactly. Yeah. 100% right. I know. I’ve got my label maker. I’m like, I have to label this right now or I will forget it and not know what’s what.
Lisa Bass Yeah, exactly.
Lisa Bass I want to take a break from this episode to tell you about my favorite mill, my favorite grain mill. Since we’re talking about milling your own whole grains, it’s important to have a quality mill in your kitchen so that way you can do it efficiently, effectively, and you can invest in those bulk grains knowing that you have a way to constantly turn them into fresh flour. Flour loses nutrition as it sits, and so that’s why it’s so important to mill your own grain. My favorite mill is the Mockmill. I’ve had others. I’ve enjoyed them. I actually did a full review over on YouTube about the Mockmill versus others. For many reasons, I have chosen the Mockmill. I like that it’s a stone mill. So it basically is made by stones grinding together, which produces a very high quality flour that isn’t heated up and destroyed. Also, it’s beautiful. It’s so aesthetically pleasing, so it can sit out on my countertop at all time, which means that I use it more. Mockmill is offering Simple Farmhouse Life listeners 5% off. You can go to FarmhouseonBoone.com/Mockmill and click the link there that will make it to where the 5% discount automatically applies. I do believe that Mockmill just did a restock. So it’s constantly an issue where you want the Mockmill, then they sell out, and then they restock. And I do believe— I think it was around this time. And if not, of course, just get on the waitlist. But I think now is when they are available. Again to get the 5% discount, you won’t have to enter a coupon code. You just need to click the link at FarmhouseonBoone.com/Mockmill and then you’ll automatically have the coupon apply at checkout. So that goes for anything, any kind of mill on the website. I personally have the Mockmill Lino 200 grain mill sitting on my countertop and use it all the time. They have less expensive models that aren’t the wood color, but again, I just love having it so beautiful sitting out there on my countertop. So I hope that you will enjoy one of them in your kitchen as well.
Lisa Bass So for your sourdough starter, are you feeding it exclusively with khorasan or do you switch to unbleached all-purpose every once in a while? Or how are you handling that?
Laura Tuttle So my starter is 100% fed organic, all-purpose flour. It just thrives off of it. And my thought on this is it’s more inexpensive and it’s the yeast eating and digesting this flour. I am not too worried about giving it the best thing out there. Like my good flour, I am not wasting it on my starter, so I feed that organic all-purpose flour. It does great. It thrives. It’s so happy and healthy and mature. But then when I go to bake, that’s when I’m going to use my good flours, and spend the time and money to make a really good loaf of bread, not to feed my yeast. And that’s totally personal opinion. Lots of people do it various other ways and are perfectly successful. So it’s just one opinion for you.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And also people ask me a lot, “Can you switch it around?” And my answer to that is, “Yes, I do it all the time.” I will go from einkorn to whole grain to all-purpose. It can be fed whatever. Those yeast will eat whatever. And so there’s really— I don’t know if this is your experience, but there’s really no switching over process. I just feed it whatever. I’ve had it for well over a decade and it just thrives regardless. So I do think that you can totally just switch it around.
Laura Tuttle Yeah. And I do troubleshoot that with people a lot because sometimes they do a big switch like organic all-purpose straight to whole wheat. And I’m like, “Okay, that might have given your yeast a little bit of a shock.” Like if it doesn’t bounce right back, or if somebody wants to do this, I usually guide them— let’s say you’re feeding it just for example, say, a cup of flour. I say, okay, do a half a cup of the new flour, a half a cup of the old flour. Feed it that together, so it gets a little bit of what it’s used to, plus a little bit of the new flour and kind of transition it over one or two feeds. So it’s not just like, “What are you giving me?”
Lisa Bass Yeah, I guess I’m speaking from a very mature starter, and so I think it can handle more maybe. But yeah, maybe if your starter is a little bit younger, you might want to do more of a switchover process. All right. Let’s talk about making whole grain breads light and fluffy, because you can’t make them like all-purpose. But there definitely are a few tricks, at least, that I’ve found to make them lighter. So do you have any tips on that?
Laura Tuttle So I think—like we talked about—being really gentle with the touch with it, which—like I said—is a little bit counterintuitive, but it really helps. Getting that dough in a warm spot, handling it gently, getting a good structure when you do the pre-shape, really being gentle with it but making sure it’s a nice taut bread that’ll get a good rise I find really helps.
Lisa Bass Can you explain what you mean by that? Are you talking about like creating tension in the bread loaf whenever you are going to— like before putting it into your banneton basket?
Laura Tuttle Exactly. Yes. Creating good tension so you get the good oven spring because good oven spring basically makes or breaks a loaf I feel like. But to get the good oven spring, you really need to have a good pre-shape and final shape which is creating good tension.
Lisa Bass Okay. So are you doing some of the fancy techniques where somebody folds it over like four or five times and then there’s like the shoelace one and then they take it and they pull it against the countertop to like pull it back against the countertop? And then what are some of your other tips for the oven spring? Is it the temperature, the baking vessel?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. So that is what I’m talking about. Just sort of like the classic artisan loaf, getting that pre-shape really good. So I often have to add steam. So I will do a Dutch oven loaf, which the point of doing it in a Dutch oven loaf is because you get good steam in that. So I will sometimes add additional ice cubes in there to get extra steam. Anything I can do because once your loaf starts forming a crust over the top, it’s not going to rise anymore. Like that kind of inhibits it and holds it down. So the longer you can have steam going in there, the more it can grow before that crust forms. So I want steam. I mean, obviously you can do too much, but I want steam for as long as possible. So I will throw some ice cubes in the Dutch oven with it to create more steam and that really helps.
Lisa Bass In it? So how does that not get the bread wet? Do you just put like a couple down in there and they all evaporate?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. I was just going to say that. So when I turn my loaf of dough out on a piece of parchment paper—out of the banneton onto parchment—I’m putting that parchment in the Dutch oven, and then I will put a couple ice cubes between the parchment and the side of the Dutch oven. So it’s not actually going to ever touch the dough itself, so it’s not going to make it soggy or anything like that.
Lisa Bass I like that idea.
Laura Tuttle So that helps.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I’m definitely going to try that.
Laura Tuttle Yeah, give it a shot. See if you notice a difference. And even sometimes I do an open bake. So I will turn my dough out onto a piece of parchment, and I will have a hot pizza stone or oven stone in that has preheated with the oven, and I put that on and it’s just going to free bake. No Dutch oven, no nothing. And I will put four ice cubes on the corners so it’s not going to touch the dough or anything, but I mean, it doesn’t have a Dutch oven to create steam, so I’m adding the steam. Some people do a pan of water. There’s various ways to do it. You just kind of have to get creative.
Lisa Bass Yeah. I like those other ideas for creating steam. I actually have never thought about why it works so well to bake it with the Dutch oven lid on it. I knew it was steam, but I didn’t think about the fact that it’s creating a crust as soon as the steam isn’t present, that doesn’t allow it to rise anymore. That’s actually— I’ve never thought about why that works. That makes a lot of sense. Okay, another way to do it— so not like your typical artisan loaf, but I found that enriching bread with eggs, butter, and making it in a normal loaf pan—even still sour sourdough—but doing some of those enriching things actually helps you to have a softer bread, even with whole wheat. Is that something you’ve experimented with as well?
Laura Tuttle Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. When you have a lean loaf, meaning no eggs, no butter, no milk, anything like that— doing the opposite, adding those things really creates a more tender crumb, so that can absolutely help. So if you’re doing like a sandwich loaf type of thing, that’s a great way to do it, to add an egg to the recipe or milk for some of the liquid. Any of those things that adds a fat. Fat equals tender.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. I always find these things in my kitchen that work, but don’t always know the science behind why it’s working. So adding fat. Now what about adding honey? So I have a whole wheat loaf where I add honey, and that loaf is also soft and fluffy. And so I like to add some of those extra components as opposed to just the flour, water, starter, and salt recipes to make it more palatable for my kids.
Laura Tuttle Yeah, honey works great. Like my sandwich loaf recipe calls for an egg in it. And if you don’t have that—because sometimes you just don’t have an egg on hand and you’re like, “Ah, what am I going to do?”—a very ripe banana like you would use in banana bread or something, if you throw that in, it acts amazingly. You don’t have to add honey or an egg. You can use a ripe banana and it does not turn it into banana bread, doesn’t give it a banana flavor. You will have to try that out one of these times with your sandwich bread. Throw like a mashed ripe banana in and it works awesome.
Lisa Bass What do you think is making it softer? Because it doesn’t really have fat. Is it the sugar component?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. The yeast will still love even that sugar. Like it just wants some kind of sugar, so that will even help it more.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Yeah, that’s very good tips. Okay. So on your Instagram, can you share some of your other top recipes and where for people to find them?
Laura Tuttle Yeah. So I do have recipes on my actual posts. Then I have highlight bubbles with tons more recipes. They’re kind of everywhere. I’m working on a recipe book right now to get it all in one place. I think that’s the hard part of only being on Instagram. They’re all there, but it’s like, you can’t— it’s not a web page, you know what I mean? It’s kind of hard to find stuff, but my recipes are on my posts. I’ve got focaccia bread, a cinnamon star bread, hamburger buns, bagels, all these wonderful things with sourdough, and you can use ancient grains with them.
Lisa Bass And a lot of kamut as well?
Laura Tuttle Yeah.
Lisa Bass Oh, so good to know. Do you have any more tips for people who want to start grinding their own grains? Actually, maybe we could talk a little bit about mills. What kind of grain mill you use would be a great one. But any more tips for getting started with this in their kitchens?
Laura Tuttle So I would say jump in, get familiar. Like, it’s so hard to just explain it. You have to get in there and try. Do it yourself. Get to know the feel and the look. When I teach anything bread, I say, “Don’t go by the clock. Don’t go by anything but the look and the feel of the dough. Know what it’s supposed to feel like and stretch like and look like, and you can do anything with it if you know what you’re looking for.” But jump in, try it. Remember, I’m going to get these good nutrients. That’s why I am doing this, not because I necessarily need it to be on display at a bakery.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Or on Instagram. If content isn’t your livelihood, then you know what? It can fail. Most of the bread loaves I make, I don’t photograph. And even when we have mistakes— people, I think a lot of times are also very worried about wasting something. Like the other day, I normally start this certain bread recipe at night, and then in the morning I divide it, let it rise, and bake it. But I started it in the afternoon, and by the next morning I had it sitting in a very hot kitchen, and so it over-fermented, and I had this floppy, no structure. I do not throw that away. I actually took it and turned it into some fry bread. So I just rolled it out— or kind of rolled it out because the structure was so terrible that I couldn’t even do that. But don’t throw stuff away. All of your mistakes can be turned into something, whether it’s French toast casserole or croutons or whatever. And you can experiment knowing that you’re still going to be able to feed your family with what you make, even if it’s totally not at all what it was supposed to be.
Laura Tuttle Yes, I echo that 1,000,000%. And because I do teach a lot of beginners, I always say, “You are going to— like this is trial and error. You are going to have a brick. It’s going to happen no matter what. You’re going to have a brick one of these times.” Do not even throw that away. It can still make good toast. You can make croutons with it, you can make breadcrumbs and have a bag of bread crumbs in your freezer.
Lisa Bass Right. Oh, yeah. Those are great to have.
Laura Tuttle I do not waste anything, even my over-fermented, I’m like, well, I guess I’m rolling this out for a flatbread. I am the same way. Nothing goes to waste.
Lisa Bass Yes. Well, and an over-fermented bread dough is so sour. It’s so— and I mean that in the best way possible. It has this flavor like elevated. It’s so good. It just can’t be worked with. And so you just— I don’t know. I think that’s the biggest hesitation. People are like, “I’m going to try this. I’m going to fail. I’m going to have all these expensive einkorn flour. I’m going to have all these expensive berries—” which, by the way, if you do mill your own grains, it is cheaper than buying an all-purpose bag of einkorn flour, hands down. But even still, you don’t want to waste it. And so knowing that there’s lots of things you can do to make sure that that doesn’t happen makes you confident to go and try it.
Laura Tuttle Yeah. And you say, “You know what? This one didn’t work. I will try again. We’ll do this with this little loaf, you know, we’ll figure out something with it.” Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
Lisa Bass Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your knowledge. I encourage everybody to head on over to @lauralivesthegoodlife and follow up with your recipes, give you a follow, and just follow along for any other ideas you might come up with. I’m sure— like in your kitchen, it’s almost fall. You’re going to be coming up with maybe some fall variations and hearty recipes to check out and enjoy. So thanks so much for coming on.
Laura Tuttle Yeah, thank you for having me.
Lisa Bass All right, well, thank you for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. If you aren’t yet following Laura over @lauralivesthegoodlife, make sure to go check her out over on Instagram and get some more inspiration and science behind baking and some wonderful recipes for your home. As always, thank you so much for listening and will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.