We were introduced to Maine Grains at last years Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, Maine and were impressed with the flour being produced, as well as the tasty rolled oats! The heart of Maine Grains is the Somerset Grist Mill also in Skowhegan. The goal of Maine Grains is to create a sustainable local grain economy, and they are doing an amazing job.
The mill sources grains solely from Maine farmers, then mills them into different flours and a variety of different oat products including cracked, quick cooking and more traditional rolled oats. I figured using the oats in a simple naturally leavened French style Pain au Levain would make for a nice, hearty loaf, with lots of whole grain. Their sifted wheat flour is also used generously.
Maine Grains Oatmeal bread will be available for the month of September on Thursday afternoons.
I recently took a trip back to my home state of California to visit some old friends and bakeries. Dave Miller is a bit of a legend in the small world of bread in the US, and I knew that this journey should start at his bakery, Millers Bakehouse, outside of Chico, Ca. Dave’s bakery is unique, in that he’s a one man show that supplies whole grain bread and pasta to the lucky few at the Saturday farmers market in Chico. His breads are all naturally leavened, and with exception of one bread, all 100% whole grain, meaning no white flour! Not only that, but he mills all the flour for his breads on his mill in “real time”. Ie:, as he’s mixing! It doesn’t get any fresher than that, and it shows in his bread. He wants his bread to taste like the grain, and I’ve never had such “fresh” tasting bread in my life.
Watching Dave work was quite an experience and even several months later, I’m still remembering little tidbits from the visit. I’ve never seen someone take such care in his bread. He’s a true craftsman, focused on bread and milling grain into flour. Every step of his 2 day long production is a step that makes up the sum of all parts. After spending so many years managing others, and growing bakeries, he’s created a system and a lifestyle that works for him, and I admire him greatly for that.
I could never do Dave Miller justice in the same way that MC has. I’d wanted to visit Dave for years, but it was her blog post that made me finally decide it was time. Read her post here for more about Dave, his bread, his llamas and goats and the life he’s built for himself in Yankee Hill, Ca.
Of all the breads Dave is famous for, the one I wanted to try the most was his 100% Kamut bread, made with freshly milled whole Kamut flour, sourdough, water and salt. Kamut is an Ancient grain that is related to Durum wheat. It has the same yellow color as durum, but is even sweeter and produces very light tasting whole grain bread, with a unique flavor. His Kamut bread has the density of a 100% whole grain bread, but its remarkable how mild tasting it is.
This months bread is a tribute to Dave. 100% whole Kamut. Unfortunately, it isn’t freshly milled Kamut. I don’t have a mill. Yet. The organic Whole Kamut flour comes from Milanaise in Quebec. I’ve found that this bread improves greatly on day 2. I suggest purchasing the bread on Thurs and tasting it, but save it for Friday. It becomes sweeter, milder and makes a really great grilled cheese!
This months bread is Spelt. Spelt is considered one of the Ancient Grains with the earliest reference to it found in the Bible. It’s a type of wheat, but many people find it more agreeable to their digestion than more common types of wheat.
In addition to both white and whole spelt, the bread will have whole Spelt berries. This bread is 100% Spelt
This months bread is another naturally leavened bread that has raw wheat just barely “cracked”. It was lightly cracked in my homebrew mill into large chunks, then fermented overnight. The fermentation of the cracked wheat, in addition to the natural leavening gives a very interesting flavor and aroma to the bread.
55% of this bread is whole grain between the whole wheat and the cracked wheat, but you’d never know from the lightness of the finished loaf. In addition to the whole wheat and cracked wheat, the bread also contains North Country Farms excellent stone ground “white” flour from upstate New York. NCF White is a sifted flour, where the mill removes most of the bran, but the germ remains. It’s a stone ground white flour in name only, more closely related to whole wheat.
This months bread will be Pane Integrale. In Italy, bread with whole grain flour may be called Pane Integrale. Indeed, the literal translation is “Wholemeal Bread”. There doesn’t seem to be a particular style of bread, just that it contain various proportions of whole grain flour. The bread may have commercial yeast or “lievito Naturale” (natural leavening). It may be rustic, or refined. It may be baked in a pan in a modern convection oven or on the hearth of a 500 year old brick oven.
Ours will be a variation on ciabatta, with 50% of the flour whole wheat and the rest our standard Canadian All Purpose flour. It will be leavened with a very small amount of commercial yeast.
Lynn says this type of bread is best with olive oil, cheese and cured meats. Take her advice, she knows what she’s talking about!
This months bread will be a simple, naturally leavened, bread made with toasted Sesame Seeds. The dough itself is ½ Organic Whole Wheat from Heartland Mill in Marienthal, Ks., leavened naturally with no commercial yeast.
I’m trying to use more and more whole grain in our breads since most of the new research on gluten intolerance points to highly processed white flour as the real issue! Whole grain also tastes better! Of course, a natural leavening makes for more interesting bread versus commercial yeast!
The first bakery I ever worked in was called The Bread Garden in Berkeley, Ca. It was way ahead of its time, predating legendary bakeries like Acme Bread in Berkeley, Ca and Bread Alone in Boiceville, NY. These were the bakeries that started making Artisanal european style breads before anyone in the US knew what they were. To Americans, bread was white, squishy, pre-sliced mediocrity found in the bread aisle at the grocery store.
David Morris, owner of The Bread Garden, died of cancer at the young age of 65 in April, 2013. He was one of the few certified Master Bakers in the US; a quirky, generous man with an interest in beekeeping, wine making and homebrewing beer. As a homebrewer myself, we shared an interest, and he shared his famous Malted Barley Bread recipe. David gave me my first bakery job, and I like to think Seven Stars wouldn’t be what it is without his influence over 20 years ago.
You hear about breads made with spent grain from the brewing process. Unfortunately, spent grain is just that. Spent. The first step in brewing happens in the mash tun. Adding water to malted barley, at the correct temperature, converts starch in the barley to sugar. This sugary liquid, called wort, is then run off into the kettle, boiled with hops, fermented and becomes beer. What is left in the mash tun is the spent grain. Lots of texture, but not much else. This spent grain is generally used as feed for cattle or pigs. David used the actual, sugary mash in a loaf of bread, something only a baker that was also a brewer would do! To this day, I’ve yet to see a “beer bread” recipe that uses this technique. I’ve taken Davids recipe and added a local twist. Not only is the mash added, but the majority of the water has been replaced with Barstool Golden Ale from Pawtuckets own Foolproof Brewery.
Malted Barley Bread is based on classic French Pain au Levain, but adds the mash from a pale ale and Foolproofs excellent session beer Barstool. The levain adds mild acidity balancing the sweetness and texture of the mash. The raw dough is rather sweet, but the finished loaf less so since the sugar created has been partially fermented in the same manner as the beer. This bread tastes like a brewery smells!
Raise a glass in honor of David as you eat this bread!
Yeah, it’s been awhile hasn’t it? Well, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things, and I have an interesting flour to showcase… But, first for the noobs, there will be a new bread produced Thursday afternoons. It’ll be the same for the month, then will change the following month. This is meant to be fun, and slightly experimental, so it is possible that something just might not come out right and it will not be available. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the project, we will not take orders, and please don’t be too upset if there is no bread available! I will do my best to get bread to all 3 stores as quick as I can, but you can count on it by 2:00 at the latest. First come, first served!