Testing Kentucky grown and stone milled flours
Since the inception of BK17, naturally leavened, organic and locally grown, stone milled heritage grains have been central to my bread making practice for reasons of premium digestibility and nutritional availability. So when I moved to Louisville, KY a few months ago to reposition my life at a slower and more intentional pace, I struggled to find the right flour to continue this ethos. The only stone ground mill in the area does not work with organic grains, locally grown or otherwise. There is also a pervasive and misinformed opinion that hard wheat can’t grow in Kentucky, thus it will never be available for milling.
But this my friends, just isn’t so. Coveted ancient grain varieties such as Turkey Red Wheat can (and do!) grow in Kentucky but at lower yields than commodity wheat. Because most small farmers who might be interested in organically growing such grains do not have the expensive equipment to facilitate such an endeavor, the grain revolution has been slow to take here.
But there is a progressive couple in Anchorage, KY who have taken the initiative to change that. Tom and Lisa Edwards run MozzaPi – an incredibly delicious, naturally-leavened mobile wood-fired pizza outfit. They are dedicated to using the freshest, most natural ingredients and processes possible to create “…a memorable, consistent, and unique experience”. So memorable that I have been lustily fantasizing about my first taste of MozzaPi pie ever since!
Tom and Lisa are so committed to using fresh ingredients with the utmost integrity that they have recently acquired a beautiful Austrian stone ground mill to process Berea College grown Turkey Red Wheat, rye, and soft wheat to use in a more permanent brick and mortar endeavor. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover their flour!
Tom (who is really the obsessive momentum behind MozzaPi’s tender and light sourdough crust) is admittedly new to the quirks of using freshly milled local flour – especially for hearth loaves. So when I introduced myself, he and Lisa were excited to get my feedback on how their product performed with my formulas. And let me tell you, I was itching to get my hands on their flour!
I stopped by one afternoon to get a feel for their process: sifting out any stray vetch seeds, selecting the sifting screens, and milling the flour. We then took it into their workshop and mixed up a few loaves using clear, whole wheat, and rye. Initially the 75% hydration smelled incredibly nutty and alive but felt a little soupy and slack. So we added some commercial clear flour to strengthen the dough. The loaves turned out beautifully but I wanted to test a few more recipes, pushing the limits of the flour.
The results have been incredibly promising with well-developed flavor and a gorgeous caramelization in the crust. I am continuing to experiment with hydration levels, increased inclusion of whole grains, and tweaking my approaches to fermentation, adding leaven after the initial mix and 2 hour autolyzation of water and flour. With the addition of only 10-15% commercial strong flour, I have been able to produce a handsome loaf with intense flavor and a moderately open crumb. But in the ever promising chase of the 100% local, freshly stone ground loaf, there is always room for improvement. With a little more testing and tweaking, I will be excited to introduce Louisville, KY to a community supported bread subscription very, very soon!
This blog post was originally written for BK17 Bakery’s website by Sarah Owens. All photography for this article was taken by Sarah as well.