Saturday, 28 July 2012

What a pain

This may sound strange coming from someone who lives in a country stuffed full of boulangeries, but one of the few things I miss being able to buy here is what I call 'proper' wholemeal bread - the dense and chewy stuff with big bits in it, with that wonderful wheat-y smell that's just heaven with some butter and a smear of honey. (Wheat addiction? Moi?). The French pain complet just doesn't really do it for me, even the stuff produced by artisan bakers like the one in our neighbouring village of Montseron that produces organic bread in a wood-fired oven in what's little more than their house.

 We've always been bread makers (by hand, never in a machine), making not just wholemeal but a huge variety of different breads. In north Norfolk we lived a couple of kilometres away from Letheringsett Mill, a water mill restored to working order and flour production by Mike Thurlow; we bought as well from Adrian Colman at Garboldisham Windmill a bit farther south, from Maud Foster Mill in Boston and from Caudwell's Mill near Rowsley in the Peak District, close to where I used to live. All milled organic flours and were excellent; if I had to pick my favourite it might just be Maud Foster (sorry Mike!). But it was always a bit of a challenge finding out where the grain was grown - all the millers claim to use 'locally grown' grain, but they buy from their suppliers, who buy from their (bigger) suppliers .... and so on. It's bizarre, and rather sad - all the wheat that grows across East Anglia tends to disappear down farm tracks in huge lorries, never to be heard of again, at least by name.

So, when two of the guests who'd booked a holiday with us in July turned out to be organic growers AND millers and asked me if I wanted them to bring any flour with them, you just couldn't hold me down ...... enter Andrew and Leonie Workman, from Dunany Farm near Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland where their farm is surrounded on 3 sides by the Irish Sea. And apart from being Jolly Nice People, they also make flour which I reckon is the best yet: fine wholemeal, coarse wholemeal, spelt and rye. Have you ever stuck your nose into a bag of real flour that was milled just a few days beforehand? Bliss.

 We soon got stuck in. The bread is exactly what I've been craving: a gorgeous, nutty, golden crust, with a rich, sweet and moist crumb. It would fly at the market in St Girons ..... The spelt flour makes wonderful breakfast breads - we've used it so far for courgette and banana loaves, and various muffins - as well as pastry. And next up, as soon as I remember to buy some buttermilk, I'm going to be trying out Leonie's recipe for soda bread - watch this space!

Wholemeal loaves, 30% coarse, 70% fine

Look at that gorgeous crumb ...

Banana, spelt and seed breakfast bread

Lovely moist texture

Just got to work out now how to import Andrew and Leonie, and their land, and probably the Irish Sea as well, to the Ariège :)

Actually we are hoping that enough people here will be interested in buying their flour that we can organise an occasional bulk pallet delivery - so if you're local, and you are, give me a shout. If you're in the UK and would like to see a local shop stocking their flour, give them a shout - they're currently looking for some UK outlets. Their contact details are here:; they're on Facebook too: And say I sent you!


Margaret Lawrenson said...

Yup. I'd love some. I'm still feeling sore I had to lose out on the flour I had ordered, so please see if you can get some soon! You're right. French bread is often so good that it's easy to forget the simple pleasures of a good plain wholemeal or spelt loaf.

Sharon said...

Nothing beats a nice, chewy wholemeal with a bowl of homemade soup. Sheer heaven.

Sharon said...

Nothing beats a wholemeal loaf and a bowl of home made soup. Sheer heaven! Although I like the sound of the courgette loaf......

Kalba Meadows said...

Yep, courgette loaves and cakes are wonderful (and necessary, if you have a garden like ours:) ). Beetroot and seed cakes have been a favourite too.