Did you know that sifting fresh ground whole wheat flour eliminates the need for vital wheat gluten or dough enhancers in bread recipes. I know many of you have emailed and commented about the difficulty of finding gluten in the stores, so this solves your problem. It also saves money, since you won’t have to purchase gluten or dough enhancers.
The tip, sift your flour. Don’t use the old fashioned crank sifter, use a fine mesh metal strainer. You can find them in the grocery store for a couple of dollars.
Why Sift Flour?
Measure the amount of flour needed for your recipe, then sift the flour into your other bread ingredients. (My recipe calls for oil, honey, and water first, then add the flour)
The bran will separate from the flour and collect in the strainer.
After all the flour is sifted through, add the separated bran into the bowl with the sifted flour and other ingredients. Then knead the dough as directed by the recipe.
I was skeptical until I tried it myself. Since I started baking homemade bread I’ve used gluten. I didn’t think my loaves would rise without it. There is something (and I am sure there is a scientific explanation for this) that happens when you separate the flour from the bran that gives you a better rising loaf, even though all the ingredients are still eventually mixed together in the recipe.
This technique also works with any other whole wheat recipe like pancakes, muffins, waffles, rolls, etc. It is a great way to convert a non-whole wheat eater into a whole grain fan.
Baked goods flopping?
Pro Tip: Have you ever followed a recipe exactly, but it didn’t quite turn out? If it contained flour it could be because you used too much flour without even realizing it.
Don’t scoop the flour with your measuring cup.
Scooping the flour packs it into the measuring cup and can really throw off a recipe if you need a precise measurement.
Instead of scooping the flour, spoon the flour into your measuring cup.
Scoop the flour so it doesn’t get packed down into the measuring cup. This gives you a more accurate measurement.
Of course the best way to measure flour for a recipe is to use a kitchen scale. But if you don’t want to spend the $20-25 on a scale spooning the flour works pretty well too.
Don’t forget to read all of my whole wheat baking tips here.
I do this when I run out of all purpose flour for a recipe. It works very well.
What do I do with the bran if I let my bread machine knead my dough?
You can add the bran in with the rest of your dry ingredients.
New here – saw your post title on a friends blog.
This caught my eye because a friend and I were talking just today about flour, whole wheat, bread making, etc. Thanks so much for this info – I had not heard this and will try this!
Interesting. I generally don’t add gluten or enhancers when I make bread. I am going to try this soon! Thanks!
melissa stover says
look at your face on the born free ad!! loving it.
The chemistry involved in baking amazes me sometimes
Yes, it works great. That’s how Gabriele taught me. 🙂
I wonder how it works when you soak it?
Thank you so much for that tip! I am going to make bread today and I will use that! I have had trouble with my bread not being light enough and this makes sense. Love you blog, that you for sharing!
Twisted Cinderella says
Thanks for the great tip
Interesting. I will have to try that. I’ve never heard of doing that before!
What a great tip! I love using my Kamut Wheat when I bake and I will have to try this! Thanks 🙂
I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this post. We grind whole wheat flour for bread and I’d love to eliminate the need for gluten. Thanks so much!
Works wonderfully! My husband and I just began baking with our own milled whole grains and hadn’t been sifting them. Now that I am, I’m getting great results. Thanks
Dede Bliss says
Emergency Essentials has it pretty cheap.
William Peckham says
One slight issue with this: there is some (inconclusive) evidence that separating the bran results (even after adding the bran back) in a product that causes more ‘bad’ cholesterol to be produced in the digestion process. This was first discovered back in the 1950s, has been supported by other research results since, but no one has found the mechanism or clearly explained why it should occur.
If you have a problem with cholesterol or high triglycerides you may want to skip the sifting and continue to add gluten. Just to be safe.
The bran is just fiber. All of the nutrients are in the germ, and all of the proteins and starches that make the loaf are in the endosperm. White bread is just the endosperm, which is why it is less healthy than whole wheat – it’s missing the nutrients in the germ.
The bran on the other hand is just fiber – good for digestion and not much else.
One question: does sifting whole wheat flour converts it into all purpose flour? Just wondering. Thanks.
No, it is still whole wheat. Whole wheat has three components – bran, germ, and endosperm. If you think of a chicken egg, the bran is the shell, the germ is the yolk, and the endosperm is the whites. When you sift whole wheat you are removing some of the bran, which is pure fiber, and it’s the bran that cuts the stands of gluten and prevents the load from rising nicely.
AP flour, on the other hand, is just the endosperm (the “whites” from our chicken analogy) of the wheat berry. The endosperm has all the gluten and starches in the wheat, which is why it rises so nicely, but the flavor and nutrients are all in the germ (“yolk”) that has been sifted out to make AP flour.
That’s why bread made from AP flour rises nicely but is less healthy and doesn’t taste as good as whole wheat. It’s missing that germ component.
Elizabeth - Water Rolls Uphill says
Interesting. I continue to add gluten. I “sift” my flour with a wire whisk as I saw Martha Stewart do and suggest many years ago on one of her shows.
Thanks for this post! I just started grinding my own flour and I’ve read that removing some of the bran can improve the digestibility. I wasn’t sure what to use for a sifter, but I’ll try my fine mesh strainer.
Keith P. says
I’m real late to the game here, but I just started trying bread with fresh-milled flour…disastrous! I tried sifting the results in various ways, such as at different grind settings, to no avail. I really want to avoid adding more gluten, since I’m already starting with hard red wheat. But on the soaking issue, what I ran across was ‘autolysing’, which sounds like the chemical process you’re wondering about. It’s similar to what’s going on in no-knead bread – the water helps the starches break down into sugars for the yeast as well as helping the gluten to form more evenly.
Vickie Halteman says
Keith, try hard white winter wheat. 2 C flour, 1/3 C oil, 1/3 C honey, 2 1/2 C warm water, 2 scant Tlb yeast. Mix this & let sponge for 15 min. then add 2 1/2 t salt & around 5 more cups flour till the dough feels right, kneading about 8 min. The dough should be just not sticky enough to not stick to your hands.
Can i sift the bran out and not use it?
The reason sifting out the bran results in a loftier loaf is because you are increasing the concentration of gluten in your flour. The bran contributes nothing to gluten development and just weighs your bread down. It is also sharp and can cut your gluten strands. This is why whole wheat loaves are more dense than white flour loaves. Plus the fact the germ is oily (also likely being sifted out), which also inhibits gluten formation to a degree.
That being said, I find a 50/50 white to whole wheat mix results in a fluffy loaf close enough to a 100% white loaf, so I prefer to keep the added nutrition you get from the bran and germ.