Boutique and artisan Milling: Flour Power are on the rise in Australia. With increasing importance on quality produce, and bakeries are leading the way by casting back to step one of making truly authentic, fresh and flavorsome bakery products.
Bread only requires a few basic ingredients, so these ingredients have a huge impact on the end product. Not surprisingly, because of this, the rise of artisan baking has seen a surge in artisan produce and essentials – milling businesses included, as well as some bakeries taking the practice into their own hands and milling onsite.
With traditional methods, the germ, bran and endosperm of the wholegrain, along with the vitamins and minerals, are retained and distributed evenly throughout the flour, ensuring a more nutritious product that is fresh and full of flavour.
Archaeological evidence suggests humans have been crushing wheat seeds between simple millstones to make Milling: Flour Power for thousands of years. The incident of mass production saw a rise in more cost-effective ingredients with longer shelf lives. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of quality products, which start at the source.
There are of course different methods of milling grain to create flour, such as stone milling and roller milling, as well as practices in place to meet certain consumer demands, such as organic milling.
Stone milling is a traditional European method of milling, usually Milling: Flour Power by water or wind. The process of stone milling helps retain the wheat germ and the result is typically a nuttier characteristic and a stronger aroma, particularly in wholegrain flour.
Stone milling is based on large spinning stones grinding wheat into flour. The grain is poured into the upper stone and distributes to the lower stone. As the stones turn, the wheat is milled from the outside in, as opposed to roller milling which crushes the grain evenly. This process creates a more raw, unrefined product compared to other milling methods, and is heralded as creating a natural, healthy, flavoursome and rustic product, ideal for making dense breads.
Because of the way the grain is processed in stone milling, most of the nutrients in the original grain are retained.
Roller milling is an alternative form of milling to stone milling, which revolutionised the milling process in the late 19th century as it removed the bran and germ, improving the appeal of baked products to the general public. It is also a much faster process than stone milling, extracting flour quicker.
The roller mill creates a more refined ‘white’ flour that enables the bran and germ to be separated, leaving the endosperm portion of the kernel, which is about 80 per cent of the volume, and is desirable as it produces a white flour that is often considered to have a milder flavour and smoother texture.
To create wholemeal flour through roller milling, the white flour is mixed with the bran that was separated in the process of rolling.
In the early days of roller milling, it’s said the process decreased the nutritional value of the flour to the extent insects that plagued the mill’s floor no longer flourished. In the first half of the 20th century, milling operations started to enrich their Milling: Flour Power with added iron and thiamine, for example. Now, this is no longer necessary with flour not typically as highly processed as it once was, particularly in boutique and artisan milling companies.
Organic milling meets a range of consumer needs and desires such as being chemical-free, better for the environment and better for those with allergies.
Wholegrain Milling Company is an example of one of the few organic millers in Australia, producing their organic flour with both stone mills and roller mills in Gunnedah, New South Wales. They source organic and sustainably grown grain to create a range of organic, quality flour products. Their stone-milled flour is highly sought-after for bread especially, and their roller-milled flour is sought after for more refined products.
Their story began with Craig Neale’s mum Wendy, who suffered from chronic illnesses. She became frustrated, continually suffering from allergies associated with food and flour in particular. Wendy took matters into her own hands and started making her own natural organic stoneground wholemeal flour in the family kitchen.
As well as the medical benefits of consuming products made from organic flour, producing organic flour supports sustainable agriculture, and enhances soil health and biodiversity.
Kialla Pure Foods is another organic producer located in Greenmount, Queensland. They offer a farm-to-plate tracker on their website, where consumers can enter their batch number and track their product back to its origins in the field. Consumer demand to know where their food is coming from is growing rapidly, as with organic products in general.
To become certified organic, there is a reputable audit process in place to assure consumers receive genuine healthy foods produced in a sound manner.
In-house milling is an emerging trend in Australia that is just kicking off, and DUST are pioneers in the trade.
DUST is a bakery and pizzeria with an onsite mill that recently opened at the Tramsheds in Sydney’s Harold Park – a refurbished district celebrating the region’s foodie makers and shakers.
DUST source their grain directly from Australian farmers and owner Cesare Salemi and his team are involved all the way from grain selection to the finished products.
“For me, as a third-generation baker, this has been a labour of love beyond normality,” Cesare says.
“You don’t do what I’m doing unless you’re a bit crazy and super passionate, and I’m both of those things.”
Cesare says that having a mill on site creates a number of issues such as space and time, and there’s no extra monetary reward compared to making products from flour out of a bag. But, Caesare has a mammoth conviction about what he does and what he thinks bread should be.
“There’s a revolution that’s going to happen in bread and I’m of the strongest conviction that if we can mill and if we can naturally ferment and create a better demand for better grain for bakers – and to get other bakers involved – it will create enough demand for farmers to take the risk,” he says.
“In my philosophy, bread’s ultimate role is to be a carrier of nutrition above all else. I have to use my skill to not just get a nice texture and nice crumb but to sneak in as much nutrition as possible.
“The mineral retention and the nutrition of stone ground flour is huge. We source it either organic or sustainable grain so the nutrition from the start of that grain compared to a conventionally grown grain or industrially grown grain is light years away.”
Since opening, DUST has not been able to keep up with demand for its pizza alone. Cesare says when you take that extra step to mill, there’s a lot more responsibility, and it will take a little bit of time to get into the groove. But, it’s very exciting.