I recently bought some locally grown and milled flour. The Eckleys at their farm in Staplehurst grow organic wheat and Claire has her own stone mill and mills the grain herself. It’s available at local markets under the name Pure Kent. Phil Hemings, of Hemings Bakehouse has set up his bakery on the farm and uses the flour. It’s a genuinely local product and available at farmers markets in the area, including Tonbridge farmers market.
I wanted to try some of the flour in my own sourdough bread. The flour I bought had only been milled that week, and Claire helpfully points out on the label that bakers do like to let the flour rest for about a month before using it for the best gluten development. However for the fresh milled taste you can use it immediately. I have two parts of my flour in the sourdough sponge and add five parts later. I always make my sponge with a hard white flour and then use other flours in the second stage so I decided to try it fresh and rely on the white flour for the gluten. Besides, it smelled amazing and I couldn’t wait.
The dough did feel a bit inelastic as I kneaded it, which I put down to using the flour recently milled. However the rise was as good as I get with other wholemeal flour. There’s never quite the same rise with wholemeal; something to do with the bran in the flour puncturing the bubbles in the dough. The taste was delicious and went particularly well with the squash and sweet potato soup I made whilst the bread was baking. The Ukichi Kuri squash and the sweet potatoes both from the allotment so it was a truly local lunch.
I’m going to be leaving the rest of the flour and trying it again once it has aged so I’ll be able to compare the gluten development.