I've been thinking about milling my own flour for a while now, partly because of health and taste benefits, partly because of the experience, partly because it makes sense as I work to improve my baking skills…and partly because I get to buy a new gadget. So about a week ago, with a milestone birthday looming on the horizon, I bought myself a present: a NutriMill grain mill (with mini seed mill–WOO!) I looked at both the NutriMill and the WonderMill but chose the NutriMill mainly because of the smaller footprint when grinding–not a lot of counter space at the House of Dough, and the two-part WonderMill took up a lot more working space. (Storage is a different story since the WonderMill, when packed up, is quite a bit smaller than the NutriMill, but since I took over Junior SDS's room after she moved to her own apartment and turned it into my baking pantry, storage isn't as much of an issue. Hey, some people collect shoes, I collect cooking and baking stuff. CAN YOU EAT SHOES? I think not. I win! YAY!)
Then, of course, now that I had this spiffy new mill, I HAD to have a couple of books to go along with it (it's a law, I think) so I bought Flour Power: A Guide To Modern Home Grain Milling by Marleeta F. Basey and The Homemade Flour Cookbook: The Home Cook's Guide to Milling Nutritious Flours and Creating Delicious Recipes with Every Grain, Legume, Nut, and Seed from A-Z by Erin Alderson. It's from the latter–which is a lovely book filled with beautiful photography and a broad range of tempting recipes–that I chose my first foray into freshly milled flour. Grapefruit Barley Scones. What could be bad? I adore scones, barley is one of my favorite grains and grapefruit is my number one citrus fruit.
The milling process is pretty much a no-brainer. Put grain in mill, turn mill on, watch as grain disappears into mill, pull out bin of freshly milled flour, bake. The flour is slightly warm as it comes out of the mill and smells absolutely wonderful–rich and earthy. As with most scone recipes, the ingredients here are few and simple, but this recipe is enhanced with grapefruit zest and pulp that's been squeezed to extract the juice. It's a wetter dough than usual but still fairly easy to handle.
Into the oven and 18 minutes later…ta da! Out came a beautiful, flaky, golden batch of home-milled, home-baked scones. They have a wonderful flavor, not too sweet and with a bright burst of citrus (I added a bit of turbinado sugar for extra crunch). I was giddy with joy.
As to the freshly milled flour, well just like with most things, fresh is always best from a nutrient standpoint. But the Big Question is: Can the average palate really discern a taste difference between freshly milled and store-bought flour? To be honest, I don't know but I'm only working from my rather faulty memory here (reaching waaay back to the last time I baked with barley flour–I mean seriously. I have trouble remembering my phone number sometimes). I really do want to do a side-by-side comparison, probably with whole wheat bread, and solicit opinions from my usual focus group (friends and co-workers) to see if they can taste a difference. But regardless, I'm really happy I bought the grain mill, especially for those harder-to-find grains that I use less frequently.
And now I'm off to have a cuppa and another scone. Cheers!
grapefruit barley scones*
- 1-1/2 cups (180g) barley flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 medium grapefruit (275-300g)
- 6 T (85g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg, separated
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) buttermilk
- 3 T (60g) honey, divided
- turbinado sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment
- Zest grapefruit and set aside. Peel grapefruit, remove pulp and chop, then squeeze out juice and reserve both juice and pulp.
- Stir together barley flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl, then add reserved zest and work into flour mixture.
- Add butter to flour mixture and work until the dough is in pea-sized bits.
- In another bowl, whisk egg white, buttermilk and 2 T (40g) of the honey. Add to dry ingredients and stir just til dough comes together.
- Place dough on a floured board and pat into a rectangle (approx. 6x12). Top with reserved grapefruit pulp, then gently roll into a log shape. Pat down til about 1" thick.
- Cut into 4 or 6 triangles and place on baking sheet, about 1-2" apart.
- Blend together egg yolk, 2 T of the reserved juice and 1 T honey. Brush over the tops of the scones and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake 15-18 minutes til firm and golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to rack to cool completely.
- Store at room temperature in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.
*Adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin Alderson