Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Of Carolina ground

A month since my last post...  I was readying myself for a trip to the Triangle to promote our flour, was reflecting deeply on the challenges we face with this mill, and that very process of blogging convinced me to head into the bakery (before heading to the Triangle). I exchanged coveralls and respirator (miller's garb) for apron and headscarf (the baker!), fed cultures, fired oven, and mixed dough. Working with new crop TAM 303, a hard red winter wheat grown in Moore county by Billy Carter, blended with Appalachian White, a hard white winter wheat grown in Mt Ulla by Buddy Hofner, I tested two flours: whole wheat and Type 80 (20 parts sifted out)-- so this was a blend of two different wheats-- a red wheat and a white wheat-- milled whole grain (whole wheat), and sifted. With the whole wheat I made pita, hearth loaves, and pan loaves. With our Type 80, I made focaccia, hearth loaves, and pan loaves. I had not had my hands in dough for a couple years, so I was a bit nervous as to how this would play out, but the doughs came together well, felt pliant and easy to work with. I realize that in my bakery I have the benefit of working with long slow ferments, mixing by hand, and being the sole baker. These flours responded well to my techniques. But I am reminded of the Rumi quote which I have always associated with baking: There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth. No two bakeries are alike.  Their techniques vary from straight doughs (yeasted), to sponge with a pinch of yeast, to solely natural leavenings. And within each technique, there are a variety of ways to get there. And most of the bakeries have production teams, not sole bakers. What I have heard from the bakers is that in their production cycle, the NC flours display certain characteristics unique to these flours. [I intend to interview a couple bakers in future posts to get their words, verbatim.] But when tended to properly, the results have been wonderful. The rye flour seems to be an easy win for all the bakeries, although the color is darker than many are used to, the flavor is extraordinary. And really, this uniqueness that we are discovering, is this not the very definition of the term terrior?  That unique quality conveying the flavor and texture of place, of Carolina ground.

So one of the exciting developments that resulted from my trip to the Triangle was an order for 2000lb of flour (whole wheat and rye) that went out to La Farm Bakery in Cary. If you reside in the Triangle and would like to taste the terrior of NC in a well crafted loaf of bread, head to the NC State Fair where La Farm is set up within the North Carolina Education Building through Sunday.

from the ground up,