My ongoing personal eating challenge has been to eat local, naturally produced foods. I'm not super stickler about it - I won't raise my arms and form an X across my mouth if I'm offered something not locally produced - but if given a choice, I do choose the product with the smaller environmental footprint. I even go out of my way, relatively speaking, to make sure I have that choice.
Enter local flour. Especially when the temperature dips below 60 and I'm freezing (remember, I'm a wimpy Californian!), I bake bread. However, after reading articles like this, I wondered if I could hold my flour to the same standards that I hold my produce and meat. My flour of choice is milled locally, however the hard red wheat is not grown in California.
Yesterday, I was delighted to come across local flour from Full Belly Farms at a cool grocery store, Star Grocery. It's a tiny store, but it really kicks ass! The meats are top notch, the prices are reasonable, and the booze selection is swoon worthy.
The flour needed a bit of coaxing to become bread. It lacked a lot of gluten in comparison to my regular flour, one reason for this being that it is made from soft red wheat instead of hard red wheat. Initially, I tried making a pain au levain, but my levain didn't have enough oomph to raise the loaf. Consequently, I had to add some commercial yeast and honey to my dough. I also had to use a loaf pan since there was no way that my bread could be free form - I would've ended up with a pancake!
The results were good, although not what I initially anticipated. The boy has requested sandwich bread for awhile, and I've always been too intent on making the perfect pain au levain to oblige, so he was quite the happy camper.