The bread I make is about the flours I use. That, and the absence of baker’s yeast, also known as commercial yeast. I maintain a sourdough, or wild yeast starter, using this to leaven the bread. This elixer of flour, water, lactic acid and wild yeast, gives each loaf rise, flavor and a longer shelf life than many store-bought breads. I maintain a starter and use this starter to create a levain, which I add to the dough. Using this levain gives my loaves a very mild sourdough flavor. Many customers don’t even realize these breads are indeed sourdough! I use flour milled by Cairnspring Mills in Burlington, Washington, from grain grown with care by Washington farmers. Every loaf is mixed from nothing but flour, water, starter and salt.
My primary loaf is the PNW Country Loaf. Country loaves are typically made from 90% white bread flour + 10% whole grain flour. Rather than typical white flour, I use partially sifted Yecora Rojo wheat flour, one where the mills sifts off most of the bran but leaves the germ, with all of its vitamins and minerals intact. This flour, that the mill has named Trailblazer, is roughly halfway between white and whole wheat flour. For the 10% whole grain portion, I use Expresso wheat flour, an amazingly tasty wheat. I can’t say this loaf is whole wheat or whole grain, but I can use the hashtag #nowhiteflour! This loaf is about 80% hydrated and contains just over 2% sea salt. These percentages are a ratio based on the amount of flour used. This bread has a simple flavor, great as a conveyance for many spreads from Cherry Valley Dairy Butter to homemade strawberry jam, or as the base of any sandwich you might imagine. I sell this as 1.5 and 1.0 pound round loaves.
My Expresso Spring Loaf features 50% whole grain Expresso wheat flour and 50% partially sifted Trailblazer. This little loaf is made with about 85% hydration, just over 2% sea salt, and is loaded with flavor: deep, nutty, with a subtle sweetness from the grain. Right now, I’m only selling this as a 1.0 pound round loaf.
To some markets, I also bring my Yecora Rojo + Skagit 1109 loaf. Both of the flours here have been partially sifted, this being as close to a white bread as I will get. Skagit 1109 is a very exciting grain. Developed by the Bread Lab, this hard red winter wheat was first bred for the maritime climate of the coastal PNW. It was bulk bred, which allows for natural selection to determine which elements of the seed will thrive in the areas it is grown. Skagit Valley 1109 will be different than that grown in the Willamette Valley or that grown on the Washington penninsula to that grown in my backyard. It was never developed to be a white flour first. This flour has a “rich, pronounced wheat flavor; robust and mildly sweet, with a warm, buttery aroma.” (Cairnspring Mills) It is a lower protein/gluten flour, so pairs well with higher protein flours like Yecora Rojo aka Trailblazer. I sell this loaf as a 1.5 pound oval loaf.
Finally, I’m working on a tangier version of the PNW Country. Mixing very early one morning, I added too much water to my usual PNW mix. Panicking, I grabbed a fistful of the Expresso Spring mix and threw it into the bowl. Stopping myself, I rationally started another batch of correctly measured PNW. I did, however, have a large bowl of flour and water staring at me from the counter. I figured there was no harm in finishing this batch, though I didn’t have any levain prepared for such an event. In my fridge, I did have enough sourdough starter discard, still vibrant from recent additions, of which I eyeballed quantity, scooping it into my bowl of potential disaster. I took this dough from mix to loaf and was VERY happy with the result. If every accident turned out like this, the world would be a happier place! This bread was so good, I became tasked with recreating the accident and recording measurements and movements. Hopefully I’ll have it nailed in a few weeks.
Eventually, I’ll offer a more whole grain loaf for preorders, one at least 80% whole grain for those who want most of the bran.
My bread is naturally yeasted, wild yeasted, naturally fermented, sourdough bread. The time these flours spend mingling with the lactic acid renders the loaves more nutritious for many people. I have eaters who enjoy this bread without spiking their blood sugar, those who can eat smaller amounts without encountering effects they usually experience with other forms of gluten. These experiences are anecdotal and may not be the same for all. Mostly, the bread is made by hand, each loaf unique and undeniably delicious!