Hello Fresh Loaf!! Re-localized flour milling & whole grain baking
I happened upon this web site over the Christmas holiday and was blown away at how beautiful David Snyder's baking was. I had some time on my hands and spent several hours reading old blog posts and just wandering around the web site. The "butter" on my bread of the journey was the pleasure of actually visiting with Keith Giusto that has a baking supply in northern California and owns Central milling just yesterday. David referred me to him and that was much appreciated! Not only does Keith know milling, but also is a master baker. I think I've already found a great friend and resource...what a fun conversation!
My interest is in both re-localizing flour milling and promoting 100% whole grain baking both with bread and pastry flours. On the latter, I've been recently introduced to the merits of "T-85" extraction flour that sifts out half the bran, but retains 100% of the germ by Stefan Senders at the Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansville N.Y. I was reluctant to embrace taking anything out, but I've done some research and there is science supporting that, although baking with 100% whole grain is just a bit more challenging, but certainly worth the effort! Also looking at "T-85" as a transition flour for those just departing from using white flour might be the application. It may also prove to be more accommodating to the commercial baker that wants to embrace the sensory experience of "whole wheat", but prefers a less challenging baking experience that comes with 100% "whole grain". I'd be interested in your thoughts and comments on that.
I'm mainly working with the Washington State University engineering department, but also Food Science and the USDA Wheat Lab located on campus. We've been exploring the merits of a unique milling system that my great Uncle and my parents were very supportive of. The technology was nearly lost and we've taken a fresh look at it over the past six years and it's been encouraging.
I confess to still being very green with the milling and baking industry, but I'm having a lot of fun and have met some wonderful folks. Dean Folkvord at Montana Wheat and now Keith Giusto have taken me under their wing, while enjoying looking over our shoulder. This system may ultimately prove not to be significantly superior to hammer or stone mills and we're only welcoming in anyone interested in the conversation to discover the truth. To be clear, I have no interest in using this web site to sell anything and I'm sure I'd be promptly removed if I did. We're in research mode and those conversations are always a lot of fun, but that line between "research" and "selling" is not "fine", it's very clear and I promise not to cross it.
I'm looking forward to having some warm baking conversations "out in the kitchen" with the fellow consumers who are increasingly interested in the relational elements of home baking and, in the process, using wholegrain flour that's holistically milled, and that is increasingly where the grain is grown. While bread baking is fabulous, my good friends, the Stelzer's (and their customers) at Azure Standard bake a fabulous cake (and certainly cookies as well) with 100% whole grain pastry flour. I'm sure many of you saw the recent article in the NYT on whole grain cookie baking...so we're not just talking bread here folks and the pastry conversation is getting more participants every day!
I'll close my introduction by sharing a revelation that Keith and I mutually agreed on in our conversation yesterday. Quality flour starts with quality wheat with proper protein content and etc. It is, to a great extent, very much a regional issue with, for example, fabulous bread flour grains grown in western Montana and soft white pastry flour grain grown in eastern WA. However, it's also a moving target based on the weather in a given year. I mention this as I've seen blog posts by consumers looking for "locally milled" grain that live in area's where quality grain isn't grown. What we're mostly consuming now is over-processed centrally and industrially milled white flour and/or reconstituted white flour that has had the bran and the germ added back in ("whole wheat", but not "whole grain"). The latter mostly produced by central industrial roller mills. The era of the local farming economy increasingly supported by local, holistic, one pass, un-hydrated, flour milling is here and expanding. However, don't look for a proliferation of "local" flour mills throughout the U.S. I occasionally see folks seeking that and, economically speaking, that is challenging.
Cheers..........and hope I've not offended anyone and I'm sure I'll hear about it if I did...non intended!