The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

For those who live in Britland

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manxman's picture
manxman

For those who live in Britland

I notice that several voices are now coming from the wilderness of England

Perhaps you may be interested in Wessex Mill near Oxford

Every time I travel to UK I arrange for 10 kilo bags of their excellent flour to be waiting for me They also do 1.5 kilo size if 10 is too much at one time.

I recommend the Essex Cobber a malted flour giving awesome bread.

They have a small web site www.wessexmill.co.uk

It beats anything you will find in a supermarket

Ed the Manxman

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I don't live in Britland but I am a Brit.....
When I saw that you spoke of Wessex Mill nr Oxford, I thought aha, bet it's the same place,,, Last time I was in UK I went to Clarks Mill as it was then, and bought a bag of Sultarnex, the stuff they make the sticky malt loaf with. I brought 3 lb of it back to Canada with me... Then I think part of Clarks went to Henlow Mills ???? it was called in Bedfordshire...... Wouldn't mind another trip to that mill,,, qahtan

tatter's picture
tatter

Hi Ed,
I once bought a 1.5kg bag of Pumpernickel Flour from Wessex Mill and I have to admit it was excellent. However, they do not seem to have any organic flour range there, which is a pity as I use organic in my kitchen ...
I don't know about supermarkets but I buy flour from my local organic grocery and they always have a nice selection of good flours...
I also recommend www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk in Manchester (Chorlton-cum-Hardy).
But thanks for the info , anyway.:)
Tatter

ryan's picture
ryan

I have never bought organic flour. Can anyone see a vast improvement in their breads? Maybe do a trial for inquiring minds out there?
I would love to see how they compare as I cannot get organic flour easily; perhaps this would motivate other bakers.

Ryan

helend's picture
helend

Ryan

I buy organic flour - all types and all my "white" flour is unbleached

I don't know if organic makes my bread better than non-organic, but the unbleached white is noticably nicer texture and taste than ordinary whiter than white flour. Unscientifically I wonder what the bleaching process does to the gluten and the flavour?

I guess it is the not eating chemicals thing and a bit of looking after the planet that encourages me to buy organic foodstuffs.

I have a problem with food miles though - assuming organic is better for health of humans and planet is it better to buy organic produce from a long way away (abroad?) or local non-organic???

I haven't a clue!

PS For anyione in UK, Glebe Farm and Bacheldre Mill both are brilliant, organic stoneground ranges - the former does fantastic spelt flour, the only source of white spelt I've found in UK - the latter brilliant wholemeal wheat, rye and spelt. Both have websites and Glebe Farm does mail order 1.5 - 12kg bags. Bacheldre wholemeal spelt can be bought in Waitrose but is a brilliant visit if you are in Wales.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I also use organic - everything I can. My organic flour I mill from organic wheat which I buy from Pewsey Mill near Devizes - 25 kilo bags. It's great!
Just bought some organic french flour today in Calais - lookng forward to seeing if it makes a good baguette!

Andrew

tatter's picture
tatter

Helen
just a short comment and maybe also an answer to your question...
After milling flour is usually left to rest for a couple of weeks, this gives it better baking qualities. This is called aging, and through this natural process our flour turns white (natural oxidation), in other words it is being bleached.
And as it is a long process, various chemicals - bleaching agents are applied to speed up this process...potassium bromate, chlorine dioxide gas, benzoyl peroxide (to name a few)...brrrr..sounds awful...
Bleaching removes the yellow pigment in flour, and at the same time destroys Vitaminum E, which is later added in fortification process...mad, isn't it?
As far as I am aware BENZOYL PEROXIDE is no longer permitted in the UK (was banned in 1997)as a bleaching agent.
Glebe Farm products are great indeed, but not easily available, I remember one small grocery in Todmorden used to stock them.
Well, anyhow, thanks for your great update on Flours in UK...I strongly believe it might help many...
Regards

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Tatter
White flour, yes that has to be aged, but whole wheat should be used as soon as it is milled, this is why so many of us mill our own organic kernels / berries. qahtan

tatter's picture
tatter

gahtan
Of course I meant white flour, sorry I wasn't very specific!

luc's picture
luc

There is often a lot of talk of 'organic' flours and 'organic' this and that... but what makes me wonder... who are the controlling bodies that certify 'organic'?

We have a cafe here in town (Hong Kong) that loves to hype the organic side of thing... but if really scrutinized you'll find more clever wording than anything organic. Yes - some of their dishes are organic. But the vast majority are along for the 'organic' hype ride.

To play devils advocate a bit... I'm wondering what the issues are with bromates and chlorines in bleached flour... I mean the real issues - not anecdotal stories based on taste - but the scientifc data by reputable peer review journals using standard scientific method applied to studies and the like on the ill effects of bleaching agents as used in the flour milling process.

Not that I don't like the idea of 'organic' - but by and large so much of it seems so hippy dippy with many people just flinging around a buzzword without really knowing the facts.

Anyone have anymore info on the particulars?

best regards,
Luc

manxman's picture
manxman

you may be interested in the reply of Wessex Mill after I suggested he read some of the above comments

quote "The link is interesting. We are not allowed to bleach or artificialy age flour in the Uk anymore. We do add Vitamin C.

The organic issue is an interesting one. We find that people would rather know where the wheat is grown than know it was Organic. In this country we import 85% of all organic produce. Wheat is no exception. It comes from all over the world Ukraine , Romania, Australia, America etc. They all have different times for convertion from non organic to organic, some as low as 18 months. The millers here do not know what wheat variety it is only that it is organic.

We buy wheat from inspected local farms that have supplied us for many years. They grow the quality we need to British Farming Standards.
I hope this is of interest.
Regard’s
Paul Munsey

Flour Miller"

luc's picture
luc

@ManxMan and Paul Munsey et. al,
Interesting. As I suspected there is much more of an element of the 'global' trade economy and agri-business than it would first appear when it comes to flour and flour products.

It makes me wonder if there is a drop in the yield for a given wheat farmer when he switches to 'organic' methods.

Are wheat farmers able to offset that loss by the increase in price that one pays for organic products?

As well it makes me wonder how much of the wheat that is grown comes from increasingly narros species... dictacted not by what tastes better but what is more expedient to mill and to get to market.

At one point I'd heard that the vast majorities of the natural grains and grasses that existed in N. America has been wiped out within 50-100 years of the first European settlers arriving in N. America and thus the homogenization of the cereal/grain/wheat resources of the world.

I'd be interested to know if anyone has heard anything similar.

Benzoyl peroxide is a leading bleaching agent used in acne remedies in America - in fact at one time (early '90s) it was used as a selling point on TV and radio adverts. It was interesting to find out that it is used in some countries to bleach flour - I'll have to double check but I believe it's still legal in the US to use such bleaches for flours.

luc's picture
luc

@tatter,
Thanks for the links... I see I have some reading to do! :)

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Luc - there was an article in the Telegraph either yesterday or the day before (I only read the headline and first paragraph) about how the sprays and insecticides on non-organic fruit and veg are much more seriously carcinogenic than previously thought. I imagine that this applies just as much to non-organic flour.
And if it is true - it justifies my always buying organic when I can!

luc's picture
luc

Andrew,
Yes, I don't think it's really too much to believe that many of the insecticides and herbicides that they use on crops are toxic and carcinogenic. I'd be curious to find out if there are any studies that show conclusive results that this filters down to flour.

Now granted... the big agri-business conglomerates are hardly going to fund studies that show that the herbicides and pesticides that their diversified other division manufactur cause cancer. That wouldn't be very realistic... and studies do cost money and universities get less than they ever did from the government.

Hmm... it all begins to look a bit gloomy. Good thing I baked bread tonight... at least I can munch on it while reading up more on organic farming and how it relates to the bread I bake.

Best regards,
Luc

helend's picture
helend

Hmmm .. this is a very interesting train of thought.

I was really interested in the info re "bleaching".

Being based in "little England" I can cope more with teh concept of "organic" meat and root veg but do wonder how organic crops and above ground veg eg cabbage and fruit can be simply because of contamination by pesticides etc being borne on the wind - I believe there are some rules about how close aother farming activities can be before a farm in the UK can be certifies organic but am not sure the wind knows (or the bods that calculate averag wind speed etc)

I know I was brought up with home grown fruit and veg and my Dad's use of chemicals (linited or nil)and have always believed a healthy animal/bird (even with a vets attention) better than an "organic" sick one to provide me with meat, milk, eggs etc.

But back to wheat - I guess organic may not be exactly what it says on the tin - but in UK at least I am convinced that there are such difficult conditions for a wheat farmer/miller to be certified organic that if it says organic it probably is as close as you can get.

What I am convinced about is buying from these small farmers/milllers using organic or non-organic LOCALLY sourced grains is better for everyone - less food miles, local employment, support for artisan skills. It is a pain not always being able to find these easily but is worth persevering with internet and mail order - my local post office will look after my 12 and 19.5kg bags of flour (and carry them to the car!).

Some good mail order UK and middle England links are:

www.glebe-flour.co.uk
www.bacheldremill.co.uk
www.arjunawholefoods.co.uk/index.html
www.ecofair.co.uk/

Bernie's picture
Bernie

Hi Ed

I agree with your recommendation - been using Wessex Mill (Clarke's) flour for 12 months now. I get through a 15kg bag of white and 10 kg bag of wholemeal in 6 months. I reckon it's best flour I've used in 10 years: ideal combination of English-grown wheat for flavour (they tell you which farms it came from) with some Canadian (according to the bag) added in for better oven spring.

Andrew, I've just begun my sourdough starter - wish me luck!

Qahtan, Could you tell me a bit about milling your own wheat - equipment needed and where you get your berries?

Great, helpful site and dialogues.

Bernie

Denbury, Devon

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Hi Bernie, the only way I can help you is to tell you that I mill my kernels in the mill that fits on my Kenwood mixer, other than that I am not much help to you as I am in Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada.
About the grains, I could buy large amounts from a couple of grain places in Toronto, but I prefer to buy small amounts from the local health food store, they are always clean and ready to mill..
The only thing we do buy in bulk is a 22 Kg sack of organic oat flakes, my husband has porridge every morning..
I am sorry I couldn't help you further.......
Where abouts is Denbury, I lived in East Budleigh, many, many moons ago..... qahtan

Bernie's picture
Bernie

Thanks for that Qahtan. As it happens I have a Kenwood Chef and now you mention it I remember they make a milling attachment. I'll have to have a chat with the local miller at Otterton!

Denbury is in S. Devon just off the Newton Abbot/Totnes road. More on the village website. I know East Budleigh, though.

Bernie

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Bernie I find it does a good job. I mill on #5 first then take it to #1. I also some times add flax seed to my hard wheat kernels....
I did do a google for people in Devon that sold grains and it gave me a few places, might be worth you taking a look in there.
qahtan

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

You can get one of the mill attachments from ebay - they turn up from time to tome and it's cheaper!

Pedro Pan's picture
Pedro Pan

Do you know if there is a mill attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer? Wonder if it is any good?

Bernie's picture
Bernie

Qahtan, Andrew, thanks for your suggestions.

Bernie