You’ve moved. Now you need to find the grocery store with the good butcher, the mechanic you can trust, the best Italian restaurant, the store that sells the chocolate I like, and the best burger joint. I need to find a flour mill.
I don’t use all-purpose flour and haven’t for years. Basically, all-purpose flour is 50% high gluten flour (used for bread) and 50% low gluten flour (used for cakes, cookies and pastries) – hence it can be used for all-purposes. Yeah, not really.
When I moved to upstate New York in the late 70s, I was just beginning to cook seriously. One of my quilting friends told me about a flour mill in a nearby town that sold pastry flour – and we could buy it directly from the mill. So I gave it a try and really liked the results. Because pastry flour has very little gluten, you don’t have to worry about pie crusts getting tough. And cookies and cakes are nice and tender.
Then I found bread flour from the Polly-O cheese man at the farmer’s market. He delivered to restaurants in the area and drove right by my house, He agreed to deliver to me, if I had a minimum order. And so began my use of anything but all-purpose flour.
When we moved to Utah, I again found a supplier – Lehi Roller Mills – that sold to the public. It was a cute little mill right off the freeway. You could see onto the milling floor from the windows in the office. Little did I know that it was the same mill used in the movie Footloose. But as soon as the movie hit the theatres I recognized it right away.
Lehi was fairly far from my house, and given the winter weather in Utah, I found a second mill – Honeyville Farms – that was a little closer. Honeyville was in an industrial area near the airport and, if you didn’t work there, you had no reason to go. They opened a store in their warehouse after a few years and carried baking supplies and food storage items, albeit in fairly large quantities. Because I usually had 100 pounds of flour on hand and a chest freezer, this wasn’t a problem.
When we moved to Charlotte, I figured I would have no trouble finding a supplier, if not an actual mill. Costco has bread flour, but it is bleached. Almost no one other than a mill or restaurant supplier carries pastry flour. The cake flour at the grocery store is different and expensive. After searching the internet I couldn’t find anything. Reluctantly I bought a 5 lb. bag of all-purpose flour at the grocery store to make waffles. Umm, no.
Once my baking tools were unpacked, I needed to make bread. I make pretty much all the bread we eat. I bought a 5 lb. bag of bleached bread flour at the grocery store. It wasn’t right, either. I went to Honeyville’s web site because I vaguely remembered that they did mail order. And, yes, they did. I ordered 50 lbs. of pastry flour, 50 lbs. of bread flour and 1 lb. of instant yeast. You’d think that would be hugely expensive to ship, but they ship anything for a flat $5.00 fee. I have no idea how they can afford to do that but the shipment arrived in 5 days. I was a happy camper.
Even though this seemed like a good solution, I continued to look for a local source. At a cheese making class, one of the other students told me about the Chef’s Store – a restaurant supplier owned by US Foods. And yes, they have the unbleached flours I want. Yea! All is right with the world – or at least, my world.
Stay tuned for my loaf bread recipe.