Monthly Archives: July 2011

Todays bread was sellable…

This has been a humbling experience. There are about 1,000,006 variables in making a loaf of bread that starts in the fields and ends in the bakery. Usually, flour is 100% usable and the rest lies in the skill of the baker. It turns out, I’ve had some funky flour to work with lately. I was starting to go crazy thinking I didn’t know how to make bread anymore, and turned to Randy George of Red Hen Baking in Middlesex, Vt. for some guidance.

Red Hen Baking’s 100% naturally leavened (sourdough) Whole Wheat bread is the true inspiration for the bread I’ve been attempting to make. The Whole Wheat from Red Hen has great volume. It has intense wheaty sweetness, with just the lightest touch of sour from the sourdough. It is a hearty bread, but it’s not dense at all, and it seems to stay fresh forever. The complete opposite of what I had been making. Randy’s first piece of advice was NOT to use the Heartland Whole Wheat flour that I had been using, but to use Whole Wheat from Milanaise in Quebec. That part is kind of a bummer since I was so excited about being at the mill, but oh well. It’s more about great bread to me than anything else.

The flour is here, and it has made a dramatic difference in the bread. It is still not where I want it to be, so I’ll be continuing to make the bread for the next few weeks. I’m feeling determined to nail this. If it is half as good as Red Hen’s Whole Wheat I’ll feel like it’s a job well done.

Randy is not only a great baker, he’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If this baking gig doesn’t work out, he may consider a second career in the music business!


Apparently, Kansas leads in the US for wheat production with Colorado, Texas and the Dakotas trailing. As a baker, standing in a field of wheat, or riding a combine is quite an experience. This year I decided to take Ian, our Production Manager, out to see the fields first hand, and visit Heartland Milling, where our Organic Whole Wheat and Rye flour come from. As the farmer, Carlin Kohen told us, “today, we did a 360. The farmer. The miller. The baker. None of us go to work each day without each other. It was an honor having you here today.” How true! To shake the farmers hand that grows your wheat really puts what we do into perspective, and knowing where our wheat comes from makes me want to use more flour from Heartland milling. Thanks to this trip, we may go mostly organic in the future!

Combines. I got to drive the red one. Yield may have dropped slightly on the run;) Notice the size of the combine in relation to the 18-wheeler behind. These things are HUGE! 3 combines cleared a 160 acre plot in around 2 hours!

We met Thom Leonard of Heritage Grain & Seed Co. in Lawrence, Ks where we also got to see some of the Turkey Red wheat growing. Then, Thom accompanied us to Heartland in Marienthal, Ks to tour the mill. Thom Leonard, what a cool guy! It was great spending 3 days with the man. We had a great time, and I hope he did as well.

Turkey red wheat

Thom & Ian with a small field of Turkey Red

Ian contemplating this years harvest.

Heartland Mill

Stone mills for whole grain flour

Roller mills for white flour

In honor of the trip, and with wheat on the brain, July will bring a 100% Whole Wheat bread. This will be unlike our pan shaped Whole Wheat since it will be baked in the deck oven in a free form round shape. It will also not contain any honey or commercial yeast. Often times, 100% whole grain sourdough breads can be overly sour. That is not what I’m going for here, so it’ll evolve from week to week.

Heartland Milling Organic Whole Wheat flour

As always, I appreciate any feedback!