Hurrah! We finished harvest on Sunday and the last load of wheat has been taken to the co-operative grain store. If you watch the slideshow above, you’ll see (very briefly) the wheat story from sowing to bread. The only wheat left on the farm now is to be used as seed for the 2013 harvest.
Every year I take out a dustbin full of wheat to use for bread making through the year. This year my wheat came from Grove Field, which you can see being harvested in the slideshow.
When I need flour, the wheat is tipped into the little grain mill, ear protection donned (the mill is rather noisy since my sister took it apart to show a class of primary school children how it worked), the electric motor turned on and …
… the wheat is transformed into flour. The original wheat is on the left and the milled flour in the middle. Most of the time I use the flour as it comes from the mill, but sometimes (as in the right of the photo) I sieve out the bran so that I have a slightly whiter and lighter flour.
The first batch of bread baked with the new season’s wheat is always a bit of an experiment. The quality of wheat varies from year to year and there’s always a chance that the wheat will produce a brick instead of a loaf. Most years I can use 100% home grown flour, though the loaves can be a bit dense with a slightly crumbly texture and somehow just a little worthy and righteous, so after a couple of weeks of chewing our way through these loaves, I relent and mix in commercial strong white flour to lighten the loaves a little and make them easier to slice.
As you may have guessed, the loaf on the left is made with 100% home grown, home milled flour and the loaf on the right – yes, the slightly more risen, less brick-like loaf – was made with just under 40% commercial strong white flour. But they both smell and taste of harvest and sunshine. What could be better than a slice of this, spread with a
little generous helping of butter?*
* My family would say white bread and butter.