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!