Heritage grains in the mix

For the last month we’ve been trialling a heritage flour in all our brown loaves — that’s the wholemeal sourdough, the multigrain tins and the Stirchley loaf. The grain comes from Mill Farm, which you’ll remember we visited last year, and is stoneground by our regular supplier Matthews, keeping the chain short and simple.

Our normal wholemeal flour is blended from a variety of farms and while it’s always great quality, it does mean it’s impossible to trace to an origin. This has become important to us as we’ve become interested in sustainable farming practices that work with soil ecosystems to produce quality food without draining the land of nutrients.

Jonathan, the owner of Mill Farm, has seen first hand the effects of extractive farming, and has radically transformed his approach. We’re keen to support this while maintaining the quality of bread you expect from Loaf, and we’re delighted to say it’s working.

The new flour has a slightly stronger branny taste, but to our delight it doesn’t behave that differently in the bakery. This means we haven’t had to change our processes while the quality is also the same, if not slightly better.

We’re not selling it by the kilo yet as we want to ensure we can maintain a supply, but our long-term goal is to have a range of sustainably grown heritage grains and flours available in the shop.

Sarehole Community Bakery??

Sarehole Mill is one of the hidden treasures of Birmingham, if you’ve never visited you should definitely check it out. The fantastic curator Irene along with the city council have managed to secure a significant amount of funding to restore the mill to working order to start selling flour again, and to refurbish the 180 year old coal-fired bread oven on the site to start baking bread. You can read all the details on Councillor Martin Mullaney’s blog – here and here. I took a tour around the site today with Irene, and we chatted about the possibility of baking on-site in the original oven. We’ve identified the possibilities on the site as well as some major hurdles to cross, but hopefully we will be able to help Irene and her team to get the oven back into working order and start baking (and hopefully selling) bread from the mill. Meanwhile here’s a few photos of Sarehole Mill on this gorgeous day…

The silted up mill pond - this will be dredged soon. Anyone got a truck to distribute the silt to allotments?

The bakehouse opposite the mill. Oven is in the left hand room.

 

The oven is still in fairly good nick after 180 years.

The original dough kneading trough