Fresh Milling with Siskin grain and Crusoe grain

Yeasted loaves

This is part of a short series of experimental baking with the grain grown in Harvest 2020 at Green Acres Farm, Kemberton, Shifnal by Mark and Liz Lea. The purpose of these experiments is to test the grain’s baking performance. Each grain is treated the same, with small adjustments for water at the first stretch and fold if necessary. These adjustments are noted below and tell their own story about the grain and how it performs in bread making. The tests use freshly milled flour which will perform differently to aged flour (see Notes on Freshly Milled Flour for more information on this).

How the grains are milled

The grains are all milled in my Komo Fidibus XL tabletop mill. They are all double milled. This means I mill them first at the coarsest setting and then again at the finest setting. Double milling means that it is less effort for the mill to grind the grain on the fine setting and results in a slightly finer grain and a lower grinding temperature.

When fresh milling at home it is important to note that fine flour will absorb more water than a coarse flour.

The grains are tested as wholemeal and as an extraction. Siskin and Crusoe both achieved 72% extraction.

72% extraction is the equivalent of a white flour and to achieve this I sieve first through a larger mesh sieve and then a second time through a finer mesh sieve. I then work out the percentage of bran that has been extracted and therefore the extraction rate of the remaining flour.

It is important to note that flour milled and sieved is very different from the white flour that you buy from the supermarket. Most of the white flour that you buy is milled through a roller mill. The roller mill shears all of the bran and the germ away from the endosperm (the white part of the grain) and so the flour that you buy is exceptionally white (and devoid of most of its nutrition). With freshly milled flour, you are retaining most of the germ and the smaller parts of the bran and so the flour is beige coloured rather than white and contains more nutrition than roller milled white flour.

Siskin wholemeal (left) and Siskin 72% extraction


The photo above shows the wholemeal siskin (on the left) and the 72% extraction siskin loaf. The difference in size is due to both being loaves from 500g of grain but the 72% extraction has 28% less flour weight once the bran has been removed.

The Siskin grown at Green Acres in 2020 was grown as a control grain in the Liveseed trials that the farm participated in. Siskin is a Group 2 Bread wheat. The data shows a Hagberg Falling Number (HFN) of 331 (the ideal HFN for bread is between 250-350, with large-scale bakeries demanding 250-280) and a protein level of 9.15%. That protein level is considered suitable for plain flour rather than bread flour, but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted as suited to bread making.

Performance of Siskin as a yeasted loaf:

The Siskin milled finer and at a lower temperature than the Crusoe, indicating that is a softer wheat. My experience with the Siskin in the particular bake is that it performs like a plain (all purpose flour), it absorbs less water (due to lower protein level) than the Crusoe loaves did. It was stickier to work with and had a weaker gluten strength with low elasticity. The HFN is on the high side and this showed in the slower and weak dough development and the colour of the final bake of the 72% extraction flour. Adding diastatic malt powder to the flour would improve the fermentation and dough development, improve the rise and the finished colour of the loaf. The wholemeal flour (freshly milled) performed better in terms of crust colour and fermentation.

Taste test for Siskin:

The Siskin has a slightly bitter finish, in both the wholemeal and 72% extraction flour.

Conclusion for Siskin:

It performs as a bread flour but would be improved by blending with a better performing flour or adding diastatic malt powder. It may perform better as a plain ( all purpose flour) although this will need to be tested for this and pass taste tests as it does have a slightly bitter edge which may not work in sweet recipes.


Freshly milled Crusoe loaves
Freshly milled wholemeal Crusoe (left) and 72% extraction rate

The above photo shows the wholemeal Crusoe loaf on the left and the 72% extraction rate loaf. The difference in size is due to both being loaves from 500g of grain but the 72% extraction has 28% less flour weight once the bran has been removed.

This grain is a Group 1 bread wheat with a short straw. This year’s harvest at Green Acres Farm has a Hagberg Falling Number of 297, so more in the range of the “ideal” bread wheat than the Siskin and a protein on 11.26% so should have a stronger gluten matrix.


The Crusoe grain absorbed the water as I expected it to. It needed an extra 10g at the first stretch and fold to make it slightly softer. At the same stage the Siskin flour was much wetter. The grain milled at a higher temperature and the first grind at the coarsest setting off the mill ground the grain slightly coarser than the Siskin demonstrating that it is a harder wheat than the Siskin. It performed well as a freshly ground wheat for bread, with good dough development and elasticity. The colour of the crust is good, caramelising well.

Taste test for Crusoe:

Both the wholemeal and the 72% extraction rates delivered a sweet, nutty taste making a satisfying loaf. The texture of the wholemeal is, as expected, denser.

The Wholemeal Loaf:

The method and the ingredients are the same for both grains

500g grain, double milled (coarse and then as fine as the mill will allow)
8g salt
5g instant yeast
350g water

350g of water made the Siskin dough much wetter than the Crusoe. The gluten strength of the Siskin was much weaker than the Crusoe. The Siskin dough felt soft and had little elasticity and is much stickier than the Crusoe.

The Crusoe wheat has good gluten strength and elasticity. It absorbs water well, without stickiness. I needed to add an additional 10grams of water at the first stretch and fold a the dough could take it to make it a little softer.

The 72% Extraction Loaf

500g grain, double milled (coarse and then as fine as the mill will allow)
The grain was sifted through a coarse sieve, this removed 35g of the coarsest bran from both the Siskin and the Crusoe grain, indicating that both grains milled to a similar fineness after being double milled.

The grain was then sieved through a finer sieve which removed a total of 144g grams of bran from the Siskin grain and 140g from the Crusoe grain, leaving both at 72% extraction rate.

356g 72% extraction rate flour
4g instant yeast
6g salt
250g water

360g 72% extraction rate flour
4g instant yeast
6g salt
252g water

Both loaves at 70% hydration. The Siskin was again much wetter than the Crusoe, with weaker gluten and slacker dough that had a sluggish fermentation.

Method for all loaves

All loaves were mixed well,
allowed to rest 30 minutes,
given the first stretch and fold,
rested for 30 minutes,
second stretch and fold,
rested for 30 minutes
third stretch and fold
rested for 1 hour.
Shaped, allowed to prove, baked at 220C for 35 minutes.

The weather and my kitchen was cool.

For full demonstration of the stretch and fold technique see my video.

3 thoughts on “Fresh Milling with Siskin grain and Crusoe grain”

  1. Pingback: Fresh Milling with Rivet Grain and Yeoman Grain | Using Fresh Flour

  2. Pingback: Coppice Blend & Mulika Holdfast | Using Fresh Flour

  3. Pingback: Fresh Milling Experiments with Wakelyns YQ and Holdfast grain | Using Fresh Flour

Leave a Reply