In a stone mill, the entire grain kernel in its natural, original state is ground—bran, germ, and endosperm. The result is naturally whole grain flour with all of the nutrition, vitamins, fats, and minerals of the grain. Store freshly milled flours in the freezer to prevent oils in the germ from turning rancid.
The sourdough fermentation process improves the bread’s nutritional value and the lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough bread have the ability to release antioxidants during sourdough fermentation. The lower pH of sourdough breads degrades phytates, which interferes with nutrition absorption by binding to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, manganese and, to a lesser extent calcium.
In Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford explains, “Wheat is one of the few foods which Chinese medicine attributes with directly nourishing the heart-mind. Wheat absorbs a wider range of minerals from rich soil than other grains. Its nutrient profile—the comparison of its nutrients with one another—is similar to that of the human body.” Read more on the nutrient and flavor profile of landrace grains and those minimally changed by selective breeding at Palouse Heritage.
Plant breeding has been a tool used to increase global food production by producing disease and stress resistant, high yielding, and early maturing wheat varieties. However, it is necessary to have a stable and wide pool of wheat genotypes grown under varying environmental conditions and different landraces varieties for continued adaptability. Also, the lack of organic certification doesn’t necessarily mean that the grains weren’t grown using sustainable methods. Ask the producer directly their growing methods. Get to know your farmers.
GRAIN GROWERS and MILLERS
Anson Mills, Carolina and Georgia (grower and miller)
Baker’s Field Flour and Bread; Minneapolis, MN (miller)
Barton Springs Mill, Dripping Springs, Texas (miller)
Bellegarde, New Orleans, Louisiana (miller)
Bluebird Grain Farms, Winthrop, WA (farm, miller)
Camas Country, Junction City, Oregon (grower, mill, bakery)
Carolina Ground, Asheville, North Carolina (mill)
Community Grains, California (miller)
Farmer Ground Flour, New York (grower, miller)
Grist and Toll, California (mill)
Homestead Gristmill, Texas (mill)
The Mill at Janie’s Farm, Ashkum, IL (miller)
Maine Grains, Skowhegan, Maine (re-localizing grain production and milling)
New American Stone Mills, Vermont (miller)
Palouse Heritage, Washington (grower)
Wild Hive Farms, New York Fingerlakes Region (farmer, miller)
Please visit Amy Halloran’s list of mills as hers is definitely more up-to-date.
APC., Launceston, Tasmania
Babettes, Longmont, Colorado, US
Barrio Bread, Tuscan, Arizona, US
Bellegarde Bakery, New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Bread Lab, Washington State University, Mount Vernon, WA, US
Coombeshead Bakery (and Farm), Cornwall, UK
Culture Breads (The Grain Shed), Spokane, Washington, US
de Superette, Gent, Belgium
e5Bakehouse, London, UK
Elmore Mountain Bread, Elmore, Vermont, US
Farm & Sparrow, Asheville, North Carolina
Hart Bageri, Copenhagen, Denmark
Outerlands, San Francisco, California, US
Meyer’s Bageri, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mirabelle, Copenhagen, Denmark
Red Beard Bakery, Trentham, Victoria, Australia
Selou, Washington D.C, US
Small Food Bakery, Nottingham, UK
Smoke Signals, Marshall, North Carolina, US
Standard Baking Co, Portland, Maine, US
Tabor Bread, Portland, Oregon, US
Tartine Bakery, San Francisco, California, US
The Bejkr, Sonoma, California, US
Wild Flour Bakery, Freestone, California, US
This list is ever-changing. Please visit Challenger Breadware for their list of international farms and mills. While I use the economical Lodge 5qt cast iron combo cooker to bake bread in at home, Challenger Breadware has a great baking tool that will keep your enamel cast iron pristine as the high heat can discolor and weaken the enamel.
Splendid Table on milling locally grown grain at Carolina Ground
NPR’s Sourdough Hands: How Bakers and Bread are a Microbial Match
Baking Bread in Lyon: a boulangerie apprenticeship (The New Yorker Magazine)
Uncover a bread site that speaks to you. Here Feedspot’s list of top sites.
Weave into a whole grain baking revolution and delve into Baking for Biodiversity, a tiny book, by Katie Gourley
Asheville Bread Festival
Explore Stone Barn’s Letters to a Young Farmer
NOTES on TYPES of FLOUR
Whole wheat flour includes all three portions of the seed head: germ, bran, endosperm. Whole wheat flour typically is more absorbent than white flour, requiring more hydration. Depending on the grind, whole wheat flour can be very coarse, with large pieces of bran. Coarse bran can slice through protein chains, cutting gluten, and too much cutting of gluten can yield a loaf crumbly, rather than elastic and chewy. Wheat classification can be expressed by kernel texture (soft, hard), kernel color (white, red), and seasonal habit (fall/winter, spring).
- Hard wheat, or “bread flour” – high protein content, used for bread
- Soft wheat, or “pastry flour” – lower protein content, used for pastry and flat breads
- All purpose – typically a blend of hard and soft wheat
- Winter wheat – lower in protein, higher in minerals, great for yeasted bread
- Spring wheat – highest protein content, used for bread flour
“White Whole Wheat” is not a bleached flour, rather a whole (endosperm, germ, and bran) flour ground from a paler (think a lighter shade of brown) variety of wheat. It tastes slightly sweeter thanks to a lower tannin content and will create baked goods with a lighter color.
Bleaching flour damages its starch and protein content and speeds up the “curing” process, which would occur naturally over time, a couple of weeks. Commercial bleached flours can be bleached with chlorine or benzoyl peroxide. This flour can seem easier to work with, making doughs less gummy and more malleable; however, when you get to know your flour, your miller, and your baking environment, the nutritious benefits, flavor, and ever-changing and challenging loaves will enliven.
Amaranth, an intensely nutty and very dense flour can yield a product gritty or crumbly if used in too large proportions. Use in recipes high in hydration like quickbreads and brownies, and in smaller proportions in scones and cookies. Great in combination with other grains and starches.
Barley flour has a natural maltiness in flavor and is low in gluten. Great in sweet baked goods and cookies and in combination with wheat flour.
Buckwheat has a blue hue, gluten-free, and a very nutty flavor. It absorbs lots of moisture, so adjust accordingly when baking. Start with 15-25% when combining with wheat flour and work your way up as you observe its effect with other ingredients. It can create, crisp, dense, or crumbly baked goods at higher percentages.
Einkorn is an “ancient grain,” one of the first plants to be domesticated and cultivated and has a higher percentage of protein than modern red wheats and contains higher levels of fat, phosphorus, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene. Reduce amount of fat in cookies or baked goods as einkorn’s higher fat content can lead to increased cookie spread and flatter cakes without slight recipe adjustments. Great in shorbread, pancakes, and crackers. Preference to 100% einkorn bread baked in a molded loaf pan.
Emmer is a species wheat more commonly known as farro. It is an ancient grain that retains its hull during harvest like einkorn and spelt. Emmer has a high content of resistant starch (RS), carotenoids, lysine, and other antioxidant components.
Kamut is an an annual, self-fertilized grass that is cultivated for its grains and looks very similar to common wheat. Its grains are twice the size of modern wheat kernel, boasts about 30% more protein and 65% more amino acids than wheat, and is rich in zinc, magnesium and vitamins.
Spelt is and ancient grain, a distant relative of durum, a type of wheat, and many with sensitivity to conventional wheat products find spelt easier to digest. It has a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and is relatively easy to work with. Doughs high in spelt can go from seemingly strong to slack quickly, so I do not overnight proofing doughs with a high percentage of this grain.
Red Fife wheat originated in Ukraine and brought to Ontario in 1840 and grown in the US in 1860. This wheat is known for its higher nutritional density and strong wheat flavor. It produces a crust with a reddish hue.
Rye is a grain, although not a wheat. It has a tangy flavor and natural gumminess when processed. A 100% rye bread can be challenging and careful when adding rye to doughs as rye can create what we call “starch attack” and leave the dough gummy and dense. Using a sourdough starter to control acidity and fermentation will be key to success in doughs with rye.
Sonora wheat is one of the oldest surviving wheat varieties in North America. It arrived with the Spanish settlers in the 16th century. Predating Red Fife and Turkey Red wheats, it is a soft white, round winter wheat with pale red grains and its low protein percentage exhibits well in flatbreads, biscuits, pie crusts, and quickbreads.
Turkey Red wheat was brought to the American Midwest in the 1870s and became a dominant hard red winter wheat in Kansas and the Great Plains in the 1920s. I love how sourdough breads draw out its complex, nutty flavors.