It Takes a Region: The Baker & The Farmer
These days it takes a region- -rather than a village-- to produce honest loaves of natural, nutrient-dense, flavorful bread. Attendees at our workshop (The Baker & The Farmer; A Winter's Tale of the Journey of Bread 2/11/18) were taken on every step of that journey from planting the saved seed to baking the finished loaf. Local organic grain (for flour) farms are scarce, however one regional source of organic flours, spelts,rolled oats, polenta, and cornmeal for baking is Weatherbury Farm
in Washington County. Farmer Nigel Tudor grows and mills all of his products on his farm. Its a three hour round trip to Weatherbury Farm to lay in a supply of flours for a few weeks or months. I believe so strongly in creating and supporting a sustainable network of food and farms in our region that I am working pretty hard at connecting some regional dots in order to get Weatherbury products up here where folks can find them easily.
We hope that those who attended our workshop came away with an understanding of how and why local flours are not only different, but superior, in terms of freshness, nutrition and flavor. There are slight differences in handling doughs made with these flours; one must be attuned to hydration and structural needs of the dough. But as I stated in the workshop the basic tenets are these:
1. Know the specific outcome for which you are aiming. Big rise? Big holes? Big chew?
2. Plan how you are going to get there, and take conditions such as flour age, current temperature and humidity into account.
3. Practice, practice--it will take a few attempts to get it just right. You will get it right!
These local flours are not like boring, one-dimensional, smashed-flat-and-medicated commodity flours, they are larger-than-life flours with a story and with character. Weatherbury ryes and whole wheats jump into fermentation like nobody's business, you can tell that they have life, enzymes and microbes when you see them bubbling away in your starter culture.
Do I use other flours? Yes, I do. But almost every loaf I bake has at least one Weatherbury Farm product in the mix. Its about strengthening our regional ties and promoting community through bread. (which is usually my underlying M.O...)