Just milled flour, which has a yellowed look like old lace, makes gummy doughs
and poor-quality bread. As flour stands exposed to the air, however, oxygen
combines with the yellow carotenoid pigments and converts them to a colorless
form, thus naturally bleaching the flour. Oxygen also reacts with the thiol groups
in dough . . . and prevents their interfering with elasticity. Thus oxygen improves
baking qualities in several ways. (p. 56)
She goes on to say that it takes 8 to 12 weeks for the process of oxygenation to have the desired effects. This revelation explains why the breads I've made in the past from freshly milled wheat flour never seem to rise very well. So the flour I milled a few weeks ago is now in Tupperware containers in the pantry, and every day or so I give them a shake to exposed more of the flour to oxygen. We'll see how well things go in October when it's supposed to be ready to use!
A little more about Cookwise (William Morrow, 1997). This fascinating book, subtitled “The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking”, also has a very clear section on how gluten is formed in kneading and explains the matter with charts and illustrations in great detail. But bread is just the beginning. You’ll also find out why cakes fail, how to make fluffy scrambled eggs, what makes smooth gravy possible, and what brining does for a roast chicken. A James Beard Cookbook Award Winner that is every bit as entertaining as a novel.