LeFevre Bakery

HEALTH / LAND / COMMUNITY

LeFevre Bakery is committed
to promoting health & caring
for the land while contributing
to its local community. 

Fresh Ground Grain: When Quicker is Better

You know that LeFevre Bakery's bread is sold freshly baked (within 24 hours to be specific). However, this bread's short journey from oven to taste buds is not the only thing that contributes to its freshness. The grains are also ground fresh before every mix.

Grinding soft spelt kernels from Small Valley Milling in Halifax, PA

Grinding soft spelt kernels from Small Valley Milling in Halifax, PA

Why does grinding fresh matter? In the case of grinding grains, the fresher the flour, the more flavorful the bread!

As we saw in the last blog post, "Fermentation: Harnessing the Power of Nature," quick does not always equal delicious. Indeed, accelerating food production is a major contributor to America's unhealthy and bland diet. Yet, freshness still matters, even with fermented foods.

The primary contributors to delicious bread is the fermentation and the whole grains, yet the maximum flavor for each process is found at very different time frames.

For the sake of simplification, the longer the fermentation, the more complex and interesting the flavor.

The shorter the time between grinding grains and mixing the flour with water, the more flavor those grains (in my case, spelt and rye) will contribute to the final loaf.

A photo from my first visit to pick up grain at Small Valley Milling. The mill is in the foreground and the newly planted fields can be seen in the background

A photo from my first visit to pick up grain at Small Valley Milling. The mill is in the foreground and the newly planted fields can be seen in the background

In the case of the bread I bake for the Huntingdon Farmers' Market this Thursday, May 7th, the sourdough will have been fermenting since April 9th and the grain will be ground May 7th, minutes before being mixed with water. 

As is true with anything worth doing and learning in this world, there's more to a loaf of bread than meets the eye.

The spelt and rye in LeFevre Bakery's bread is grown by Small Valley Milling in Halifax, PA

The spelt and rye in LeFevre Bakery's bread is grown by Small Valley Milling in Halifax, PA

Fermentation: Harnessing the Power of Nature

By far the most exciting change coming to LeFevre Bakery is the bakery wide introduction of natural fermentation. Instead of adding commercial yeast, LeFevre Bakery's bread selections (Stone Valley Sourdough and The Idealist's Loaf) will be made with a stiff, natural levain, or sourdough. What does this mean and why does it matter?

What's natural fermentation? When I bake, I like to think that I am harnessing the energy of the universe in order to bring you, my customer, a magical loaf of health, deliciousness, and pleasure. Honestly, this is not far from the truth. My job as baker is to create the perfect environment with a sourdough starter (comprised simply of flour, water, and salt) for the magical little bacteria--yeast--to thrive. The yeast do the rest. They eat the sugars from the ground wheat and subsequently produce gasses (the rising power of dough) and acid (the yummy flavors and aromas of bread). We call this fermentation and it can be done naturally and slowly through a levain or quickly with commercial yeast.

If you build it, they will come:  Just add water and time to this rye and spelt and the yeast will come to feast, initiating fermentation!

If you build it, they will come: Just add water and time to this rye and spelt and the yeast will come to feast, initiating fermentation!

Why should I care where my yeast comes from? In general, the process described above happens when commercial yeast is added to dough; however, due to the astronomical levels of yeast bacteria in a pinch of commercial yeast this process happens really fast which does not allow for the yummy flavors and aromas, the natural preserving qualities of sourdough or the health benefits of slow, natural fermentation. Some schools of thought even consider the accelerated fermentation from commercial yeast as a primary contributor to the wide-spread intolerance of gluten products.

It's floating!  Potentially the dullest photo you've seen all week, as a baker this is a beautiful sight to me. When the levain floats it means the yeast is thriving and will make an excellent loaf of bread.

It's floating! Potentially the dullest photo you've seen all week, as a baker this is a beautiful sight to me. When the levain floats it means the yeast is thriving and will make an excellent loaf of bread.

There is still much to say and much more for me to learn, but as I continue to research bread in particular and food in general I keep running into the same thing. Food is more delicious, longer lasting (without those nasty preservatives), and much better for us when its fermented. So here's to the cheese, the sauerkraut, the yogurt, the wine and beer, and, yes, of course, to bread!

The whole point:  Delicious and nutritious daily bread

The whole point: Delicious and nutritious daily bread

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