Our normal California Hard Red Wheat, Amorojo, is on hiatus until harvest 2021. We will be taking advantage of this opportunity by exploring some other amazing Hard Red wheat varieties from other sources. First up is Ruby Lee. Certified organic and grown in Colorado. We love the mellow, nutty flavor profile and find its baking performance very similar to Amorojo. It is nice and strong for naturally leavened breads, pizza and enriched bread recipes.
Bread bakers will want to pay attention to their hydration percentage and will probably need to increase it slightly. Freshly milled whole grain flour tends to be on the “thirsty” side and will absorb more water in artisan bread applications.However, for more general baking and pastry applications, you may find that it does not absorb as much liquid as an All-Purpose flour, so you may want to hold off on some of your liquid such as buttermilk or cream in scone recipes and add back in as needed, for example.
It is a wonderful, stand-alone bread flour and will create loaves with superior flavor, crumb, color and volume. We are milling this as a 100% extraction, whole grain flour. We also love incorporating it into all different types of baking. Start by substituting up to 50% of your All-Purpose flour with this whole grain flour. You will love the rich flavor and color it adds to muffins and cookies, and you will be surprised at how delicate they will be in texture. Freshly milled whole grain flour is nothing like supermarket whole wheat flour. You can bake with it in the same manner, but with more delicious, tender outcomes.
Red Fife is a landrace wheat that comes to the United States from Canada. In the mid 1800’s it was the dominant and most highly regarded bread wheat, but was gradually replaced by modern hybridized varieties. A woman by the name of Sharon Rempel saved this wheat from being completely lost to us. Because of Sharon’s efforts and dedicated growers in Canada, there is now enough seed to share with interested farmers in the United States. Bakers are known to become obsessed with this flour due to its phenomenal flavor and color. We are milling this as 100% extraction, whole grain flour to give you the maximum experience of what makes this grain so special.
Red Fife is a beautiful, stand-alone bread flour, but it does not have the same gluten strength as modern wheat varieties. Don’t expect as much oven spring with a 100% loaf. As with our other hard wheats, you’ll need to increase your hydration percentage in bread baking and pasta making, but again not as much as with modern wheat varieties. If you’d like to pair it with a stronger wheat for better oven spring, we recommend our Hard White because its mellow flavor profile will allow the Red Fife aromatics to come through.
Red Fife is very versatile. Naturally, we love it for bread, pizza and flatbread, but that flavor and color translate beautifully into all types of baking. Please don’t shy away from using this flour for pastry. We love Red Fife for pie dough, biscuits and muffins almost as much as we do for bread. The flavor and texture will astonish you.
Sonora, a landrace variety, is believed to be one of the oldest wheats grown in North America and is one of only two wheats boarded onto the Slow Food Ark of Taste. We are still tracing its California origins, but documentation shows that it was brought from Sonora Mexico in the late 1700’s and followed the trail of California’s missions up the coast. At one point in California’s history, it was the main wheat variety grown throughout the state. It has virtually vanished from our state, but enlightened smaller scale farmers are planting it once again. The real beauty of Sonora lies in its sweet, nutty, rich flavor and creamy golden color. We feel what makes it so special would be lost if we tried to sift out the bran and germ, so we are milling this as a 100% extraction, whole grain pastry flour. Sonora’s pale color and fine texture make it a very stealth way to incorporate whole grains into your daily baking repertoire.
Even though this is a whole grain flour, baked goods made with Sonora will be on the delicate side. Pastries like biscuits, scones and pie dough can even be a little fragile when using Sonora 100%, not at all like commercial whole wheat flour. As always with stone milled flour, some recipes may need a little extra liquid. We find it an easier solution to hold back a small amount of flour, which can be easily folded back in if needed.
As a soft white wheat, Sonora does not have enough protein to be used as a stand-alone bread flour, but our testers have made excellent artisan loaves with a ratio of up to 60% Sonora and 40% of a higher protein bread flour (such as our Triple IV or Red Fife). Sonora really shines as a pastry flour. You will want to integrate Sonora into all of your muffin, scone, biscuit, cake, pie dough, and cookie recipes. It makes wonderful pasta, pizza dough and flat breads as well.
We are now milling our new crop, 2020 harvest Hard White -Star. After waiting for over 2 years to get this seed in the ground again, it’s great to finally see this harvest come in. Star is very pale in color, mills very fine, even as a whole grain flour and has good gluten strength. We have always loved its very toasty, buttery, creamy flavor profile.
Watch your hydration with this flour, but don’t over hydrate. Normally, we are at 83% hydration for our 100% Grist & Toll whole grain sourdough loaves and we would suggest 83-85% hydration for this varietal as a starting point. For bakers using commercial yeast, you should increase your liquid (water, milk etc) at least 15% from what the recipe calls for. The same will hold true for pizza dough and pasta – normally we suggest either holding a few tablespoons of flour back before adding eggs and other liquid ingredients. In some recipes it’s easier to add some flour back in than it is to adjust eggs, water or olive oil.
You can use Hard White in any baking application you would use a hard red wheat, but it’s not quite as high in gluten strength as our Hard Red. It’s protein and gluten properties make it strong enough to be a stand alone bread flour, and it’s also great for pizza and pastry. It’s fine, light color and texture mean that it’s a good chameleon wheat as well: interior bread crumb will be lighter and more golden instead of brown, and its flavor won’t overpower other flours should you choose to blend with other varieties like rye or spelt.
Spelt is an ancient relative of wheat. It was one of the earliest domesticated grains and hasn’t changed much since the first farmers grew it, perhaps as early as 5000 BC. It has enjoyed a somewhat quiet existence, mostly in European countries, not touched by cross breading or hybridization, taking a back seat to its modern wheat cousins. Though Spelt is not gluten-free, it has a different molecular structure and is more water soluble, which means its nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body. It’s very high in protein, fiber and B complex vitamins.
You can substitute Spelt for AP flour in most recipes. It will add a richer more golden color and a smooth nutty flavor.
Spelt is known for its nutty rich flavor profile. It makes delicious bread, but be aware that its gluten properties are more fragile than wheat’s, which means that working a spelt bread dough too much will have the adverse affect of breaking down its structure rather than building it, so don’t over-knead. In pastry applications, Spelt flour delivers the most melt-in-your-mouth texture. Because of this, we love it for muffins, scones, cakes and quick breads. It also laminates beautifully, so it’s a natural as part of a flour blend for puff pastry, croissants and galette dough.
The cultivation of rye does not go back as far in history as some other grains. It came to America with European settlers in the 16th century. In addition to its distinctive flavor and color, rye contains high levels of dietary fiber in its endosperm, not only in its bran as is common with other grains. Because of this, rye baked goods generally have a lower glycemic index.
Rye has higher enzyme activity, which is why many people love it for their sourdough starters. It can move the fermentation process along a little more quickly, so keep that in mind specifically when baking bread with rye. The gluten structure of rye is much weaker than that of wheat, so breads made mostly of rye do not expand and trap air as much as wheat breads, and the doughs can be more dense and sticky.
We think we know rye, but we really don’t. It is generally associated with dark European, caraway studded breads. However, rye adds such interesting flavor and character that we hate boxing it into a specific corner. Do we love it as a 100% loaf of bread? Absolutely! But, we love it so much that we include rye as part of our flour blend in almost any yeasted application from sourdough hearth loaves to pizzas and flatbreads. And we can’t sing its praises enough for the malty, fruity quality it brings to pastries. We put it in everything, and we’re not joking: chocolate chip cookies, pie dough, pancakes, crackers, scones, shortbread, and crepes. It’s also becoming a pasta superstar ingredient.
We are currently sourcing our corn from L.A. based Masienda. Masienda is collaborating with growers in Oaxaca, Mexico to organically grow out heirloom corn varieties, which also means it is non-GMO. Our polenta is milled from Bolita Amarillo and has a much more coarse texture than our cornmeal. It is virtually whole grain: we hand sift just to remove the large pericarp (the seed coat) particles. The color and flavor of this corn will blow you away.
You can cook our polenta using only water and its freshness and texture will blow you away. You really don’t need to dress it up dramatically to make it taste special. However, we are never ones to scoff at gilding the lily, so feel free to use milk as your cooking liquid for added richness and depth, or add a splash of heavy cream and grated parmesan at the very end. If you ever make your own ricotta cheese, save the whey: cooking your polenta in whey will turn you into a kitchen rock star. Follow the normal ratios for a soft polenta: 1 part polenta to 4 parts liquid.
Cooking freshly milled polenta is a completely different experience, especially since our product is mostly whole grain. That means we haven’t removed the corn flour. Because of this our polenta, while chunky in texture, has a creamier mouthfeel than others and depending on how you cook it, and almost rich soufflé-like texture. It cooks a little bit faster than traditional brands (less than an hour) and has an undeniable fresh, sweet corn flavor.
We are currently sourcing our organic corn from L.A. based business Masienda. They are collaborating with and supporting growers in Oaxaca, increasing plantings of heirloom corn varieties. Their Conico Azul, a blue Oaxacan corn, is what we’ve selected for our cornmeal. It has a fine, delicate texture and is incredibly aromatic.
Heirloom corn varieties tend to be a little more starchy than modern corn. Don’t be surprised if you need to increase your liquid ingredients significantly. Mixing a batter and then allowing it to sit for about 5 minutes will help you judge whether or not to add more liquid before cooking or baking.
Fresh stone milled cornmeal has a pronounced sweet corn flavor. It will take your cornbread recipe to a whole new level. Because the flavor is so much more expressive, it is fun to incorporate into many more baking recipes than we normally would. There really isn’t any application that you can’t incorporate a little fresh cornmeal into with big flavor and texture payoff: muffins, scones, pie dough, butter cookies, pancakes, waffles, yeasted bread – you name it. We officially give you permission to have fun.