In this section you’ll find some archive material from our previous website, along with Minutes of previous meetings in 2014 and 2015, via the links :
Dan Lepard articles.
Dan Lepard, the baker and writer on bread and baking, had a regular column in the Guardian Weekend magazine’s food pages for some time, and in July 2011 he wrote a series about traditional mills and flour: “For the next month, I’ll be waving the flag for the great watermills and windmills of Britain, because the flour they produce is essential for the best breadmaking. With the help of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Traditional Cornmillers Guild and Sustain’s “Real Bread” campaign, these mills show that renewable energy can produce superb flours. Visit a traditional mill this summer, buy flour and adapt your baking to suit the particular characteristics of slow stone-milling.”
On 9th July he wrote about how to make a Seeded Rye and Wheat Loaf.
On 22nd July, Dan wrote about unbleached white flour, mentioning Maud Foster Windmill and Claybroooke Watermill.
And in the final article, on 29th July, the focus turns to stone-milled wholewheat in cakes, and the welcome weightiness it lends to spice cakes in particular.
You and Yours Interview.
In 2013 our erstwhile Chairman Jonathan Cook was interviewed on You and Yours on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 11th June. You can catch it via this link
You’ll find him about 15 minutes into the programme, along with Michael Stoate of Cann Mills, some artisan bakers, and others…well worth a listen !
Crop to Crust Conference
On 16th April 2011, at the NFU Mutual HQ in Stratford the SPAB Mills section and TCMG hosted an excellent conference promoting traditional milling, artisan baking, and close working with farmers growing grain.The quest for better bread has driven the development of cornmills thoughout history. The ability of the miller to produce flour to satisfy the demands of the baker’s customers has been, and remains, a matter of survival for the working mill. From Crop to Crust explored the various skills of the miller, through a combination of talks, workshops and exhibitions, including:
• Flour production over the centuries
• Development of machinery to meet bakers’ needs and public tastes.
• Differences between the 21st Century commercial and domestic flour markets
• The life of the artisan miller and baker in the 21st Century
CROP TO CRUST CONFERENCE 8TH OCTOBER 2016 SACREWELL HERITAGE FARM AND WATERMILL NEAR PETERBOROUGH
A personal report back from Nick Jones.
First, many congratulations to Jon Cook, who masterminded the conference and chaired it with his usual aplomb, and to Sophie Martin at SPAB Mills, Chris Evans from the Real Bread Campaign, the team at Sacrewell Heritage Farm and Watermill, and all those who helped to make this event such a success and inspiration. Not to mention an excellent range of speakers, confirmed by the fact that I did not fall asleep at all, even after lunch! All the little extra events and touches, like the vintage single and double ducker omnibuses that transported us in delight, not to Clapham, but to a beautifully restored watermill, and a delicious lunch. After a very wet start the sun shone and we were able to eat alfresco. The bakers even managed to get a rather tricky old oven to bake our loaves and buns. It all made for a memorable and very constructive day.
I hope that it will be possible to build on the energy and resolve that emerged from the strong linkage between the themes and subjects that the speakers covered. It is in the joining of the dots that the big picture begins to emerge and have real strength and significance :
Organic Farmer Howard Roberts and Chemical Engineer turned Food Process and Production engineer Peter Wallin set the tone by explaining their commitment to organic food production, and the rationale behind it – specifically personal experience and professional understanding of the benefits. The science (and the maths) is simple: Organic agriculture = improved soil = deeper plant roots = better access to water, micro-organisms, nutrients, minerals and vitamins = healthier, tastier food + improved adaptation to climate change + supporting biosphere (flora, fauna) + no bills for sprays or artificial fertilisers + reduced carbon footprint.
Next came millers David Howell (Offley Mill)and Paul Wyman (Tuxford Mill), current TCMG chair. Their formula for success ? High quality and unusual grains + milling the traditional way with horizontal millstones = less damage to nutrients from excess heat and friction + better flavour as the wholegrain germ is mixed in, + improved baking qualities. Add personal, bespoke service, milling to order = happy customers = a recipe for success.
It was a pleasure to see John Letts amongst the seventy or so delegates – he is the man behind the resurgence of interest in Heritage Grains. He has pioneered transformative work as an archaeo-botanist, finding old grains in old thatch or storage pits on ancient sites. His subsequent nurturing of small plots of “population” wheats (a genetically different mix of up to 200 varieties offering capacity, diversity, and compensation: if some fail, others take their place) has demonstrated how they adapt, resist disease and survive in tricky climatic conditions, or poor soils. The very opposite of Big-AG monoculture, totally dependent on fossil fuels for energy, fertilisers and chemical sprays, reducing diversity and increasing vulnerability to disease and climate change, as well as causing extreme soil erosion.
The afternoon session started with a Millers Tale from James Waterfield (Maud Foster Mill, Boston). A fascinating, moving story, taking us back in time to the days when milling, farming and baking was hard physical labour, time-consuming and exhausting.
It made me realise that, on the plus side, traditional harvesting, stooking the sheaves long enough to hear the church bells thrice, stacking to allow the ear to dry and ripen, and finally threshing, improved range of flavour, nutrients and digestibility as the grain was able to ripen fully. The combine-harvester, by contrast, often cuts the wheat early, to stop the grain falling out of the ear, and, if wet, dries it quickly and artificially.
The afternoon saw Chris Young, Vanessa Kimball, and Tom Herbert telling us more about how to bake the best bread. The message was clear – slow bread is the best, and, to achieve that, you need to allow a long fermentation, and use natural yeast, or, even better, brewers balm. This reduces loss of nutrients from excess phytic acid, improves digestibility and nutrient absorption, and results in better texture and flavour. All qualities which the Chorleywood Process so cleverly eliminate in the interests of speed, efficiency, and profitability.
Something which wasn’t specifically discussed or mentioned was the inherent sense of common purpose, connection and community of interest amongst us, that is the social value of farming, milling and baking on a small scale, contributing as it does to quality of life at a local level, employing people, serving the community, reducing food miles, keeping culture, tradition and heritage alive. Not exploited for short term commercial gain or to promote a trendy image, but because, quite simply, it’s the best way, working with and for people and planet.
Six weeks later, I’m struck by how powerful all these different elements are when put together – ie heritage grains+organic agriculture+traditional harvesting+stoneground milling+slow baking = the best bread, but so much more. How could all this knowledge and experience be joined up to help promote the qualities, good practice, products and ways of life that we discussed? Is it best just to keep on getting on with it, or is there a case for undertaking some serious research to help us make the case? If so, how and who might do that ? Suggestions please!
“ What shall it profit a man if he gains a lot of hot air and water but loses his soul, his hard earned cash and a decent loaf in the process.”
A loaf of bread is better than nothing
Nothing is better than God
Therefore a loaf of bread is better than God
Bakers work on a knead-to-know basis.
Threat to Charlecote Mill
Charlecote Mill, one of our finest watermills, is under threat, from The Avon Navigation Trust (ANT) proposal to allow river navigation between Stratford and Warwick. This scheme is now a real possibility and has the support of Stratford District Council. Please help us to oppose this damaging plan. Full details on the website.
Possible Threat to Priors Mill, Swaffham Prior.
Priors Mill is at risk of losing wind if a proposed development nearby goes ahead. Our former Chairman, Jonathan Cook, who runs the mill, has posted all the details via this link. There is also a petition to sign. Please support Jon in has campaign.
News from De Zwaan Windmill, Michigan USA
Alisa Crawford writes to tell us that: “On June 11 I set a new record and did 3000 pounds in one day. In addition to grinding wheat, I also grind a nice non-GMO organic heritage corn that is grown on a local farm within 10 miles of the mill. The same farm grows an organic rye that I grind for a local brewery.
We now have a skycam that is aimed at the windmill, so people can see if the mill is turning from anywhere in the world. We are also working on getting a weatherstation hooked up on site that I can utilize for up to date weather, and when downloaded, can be accessed by area TV weather reporters.
Here is the link to the skycam:
More old news …
…including an article on threats to Europe’s watermills from EU Water Framework Directive; and a link to TIMS News, full of all matters molinological!
From Quern to Computer
The Mills Archive Flour Milling History Project including timelines, extended descriptive articles and a booklet. To add information contact Claire Wooldridge, Learning and Engagement Manager, Mills Archive, 0118 950 2052.
Threat to Helmshore Mill
Lancashire County Council will close Queen Street and Helmshore Mill Museums in April 2016 if we don’t act now. Click this link to sign the petition and find out more…..