Fresh Milling Experiments with Wakelyns YQ and Holdfast grain

This is the fourth in a series of baking experiments testing this year’s wheat harvest (2020) for Mark and Liz Lea who grow organic bread wheat on their mixed organic farm in Kemberton, Shropshire just seven miles away from Veg Patch Kitchen Cookery School HQ.

You can also read all about how Siskin and Crusoe, Rivet and Yeoman and Coppice Blend and Mulika X Holdfast perform as bread wheats.

The experiments are based on yeasted dough. The grain is double milled and is used as a wholemeal and as an extraction flour.

Wakelyns YQ wholemeal (left) and Holdfast wholemeal

Wakelyns YQ

Wakelyns YQ is a revolutionary grain. Martin Wolfe a pioneer of agroforestry worked tirelessly to cross 20 different parent varieties, chosen for yield (Y) and quality (Q) resulting in 190 crosses making up the YQ population. These seeds have then been further subjected to natural field selection over at least 15 generations. Each year the grain continues to naturally select the grains that perform best on the soil that they are being grown on. The grain from the Wakelyn’s YQ population that the Lea’s plant (based on them replanting their own saved seed) will alter slightly each year, adapting to the conditions of the farm. Mark and Liz have been growing YQ on their organic farm for the past five years.

Martin Wolfe’s story and his dedication to farming sustainably and in tune with nature is well worth reading about and you can find out more about the farm here.

Data from this year’s harvest

This year’s data for the Wakelyns YQ grown at Green Acres Farm shows protein at 12.58% which is higher than previous years from Green Acres where it has usually been at around 11%. It has a Hapberg Falling Number (HFN) of 248.

Baking Performance

The wholemeal YQ was extensible with little elasticity at first stretch and fold. However, the elasticity improved during fermentation. The loaf performed well with an even rise and some oven spring. The grain produces a dark coloured flour that bakes into a dark brown loaf. Having baked with the YQ from 2018 and 2019 grown at Green Acres this year’s grain has performed better than previous years.

70% hydration makes for a wetter dough than the Holdfast made at the same time.

Extraction flour

After running the flour through a coarse and fine sieve 72g of bran was removed making for 86% extraction.

Taste Test

The loaf has a good crumb texture, good crust caramelisation and a sweet, flavourful, earthy taste.


Holdfast was bred in 1935, a cross between Yeoman and White Fife. This explains the lighter colour of the final wholemeal loaf, which is buttery yellow in colour. Holdfast is a heritage grain, developed before the industrialisation of farming.

Wakelyns YQ wholemeal (left) and Holdfast wholemeal

Data for Holdfast

The data for this year’s harvest for Holdfast shows a HFN of 342 and a protein if 14.68%. It has the highest protein of all the wheats grown at Green Acres this year.

Baking performance

This was an easy wheat to work with. It had a good mix between elasticity and extensibility. It absorbed more water than the Wakelyn’s, requiring an additional 10g at the 1st stretch and fold for the wholemeal and producing a stiffish dough at 70% hydration when working with the extraction flour. Higher protein flours will absorb more water so this is to be expected. The loaf rose well after shaping and achieved oven spring. It makes a light coloured loaf with an attractive amber crust. The wholemeal loaf is less dense than most other freshly milled wholemeal loaves.

Extraction Flour

After sieving through the coarse and fine sieve 53g of bran was removed from 500g flour making an extraction rate of 89%. This is the highest extraction rate of all the wheats tested from this harvest so far this year. Holdfast’s bran felt softer to the touch than the YQ bran.

Taste test

The holdfast is a lighter coloured loaf than the others tested with even the wholemeal loaf having a buttery yellow crumb. It has a pleasant taste, not particularly complex and would suit breads and pastries that require a more neutral tasting flour.

YQ and holdfast extraction flour loaves
Wakelyns YQ extraction flour (left) and Holdfast extraction flour

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