Eat magazine march april 2018

Page 29

EAT Magazine May/June 2018_Layout 1 3/5/18 3:17 PM Page 29


RIKA HEYRMAN SCOOPS up a handful of speckled spelt flour as it falls from the thick granite stones of the whirring grain mill at Nootka Rose Milling Company.


This is real whole grain flour—nothing added, nothing removed—ground from whole organic grains grown close to home. It’s the main ingredient in the rustic wheatfree, whole spelt loaves she makes at Wildfire Bakery, bread that contains just three other ingredients, water, natural levain starter and sea salt. Nootka Rose Milling in Metchosin is a joint venture between Heyrman and baker Byron Fry of Fry’s Red Wheat Bread Bakery. Their stone mill, built by New American Stone Mills in Vermont, supplies freshly milled flour to both city bakeries and to consumers at their small country store. Sacks around the milling room are bulging with whole grain Red Fife and rye flour, next to the sandy germ and bran sifted from their rustic white flour. It’s fluffy and buff-coloured with a fresh grassy aroma. “Spelt is a softer ancient wheat with a lovely sweet, nutty flavour,” says Heyrman, rubbing the silky flour across her fingertips.


“We make pastries and cakes with this.” Nootka Rose is just the latest chapter in a miller’s tale that has been evolving on Vancouver Island for nearly two decades, with the emergence of young bakers sourcing local, organic and heritage grains and milling fresh, stone-ground flour for their breads. It started with innovative bakers like Heyrman, Cliff Leir of Fol Epi and Jonathan Knight, the original owner of Cowichan Bay’s True Grain (current owners are Bruce Stewart, Leslie Stewart and Todd Laidlaw). Learning old skills—from milling grain to building traditional woodfired ovens and slowly fermenting breads with wild yeasts—became the benchmark for this new breed of craft-driven bakers. When Leir opened his bakery at Dockside Green 2009 he installed two shiny silos to hold the heritage Red Fife wheat and rye grains he uses in his chewy baguettes and whole wheat batards, designing and building a simple but efficient stone mill that has become a prototype for artisan bakers across North America. Bakers connected with farmers growing organic and ancient grains, from emmer to einkorn, red spring and spelt. Bruce Stewart of True Grain Bread says sourcing

island wheat was an early priority. He found farmers like Metchosin’s Tom Henry and Sloping Hill Farm to supply local grains for their original mill in Cowichan Bay, but has since expanded operations with bakeries Courtenay and Summerland, added a central milling facilitiy, and shifted his focus to organic grain growers in BC. The art of old-fashioned milling was revived and perfected. Today, the rustic loaves produced at True Grain, Fol Epi, Wildfire and Fry’s Red Wheat bakeries are all made with fresh, organic, stone-ground flour, milled daily.

Bakers connected with farmers growing organic and ancient grains, from emmer to einkorn, red spring and spelt.

These bakers chose to mill for different reasons—to obtain fresh, unadulterated flour for their breads, to support the local economy and food systems, even to reduce their carbon footprint—but all agree that stone-milled flour is a world away from the highly refined white flour typically produced in today’s large, industrial flour mills. It’s healthier and tastier too. “The bread tastes so good when you use fresh, stone-milled flour,” says baker Byron Fry of Fry’s Red Wheat Bakery. “I was immediately hooked. “But there are also significant health benefits to consuming fresh, whole grain flour and breads,” he adds, pointing to a McGill University paper outlining the C O N T I N U E D O N T H E N E X T PA G E