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Milling my own flour!

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Author: Magdalena Marsden

 

At the beginning of 2014, I was privileged enough to spend a day at a working mill in Wales. We were just on holiday - spending a week away in the beautiful Brecon Beacons and I happened to notice that Talgarth Mill was running a 'Milling Experience'.

The mill is mainly run by volunteers and has been completely reconstructed in the last few years. Now they have lovely tea room on site and wood burning oven - which I'm particularly jealous about.

We visited Talgarth Mill several times before, but I never had the time to join them, so this time I didn't want to miss my chance. I arrived in quiet and sleepy Talgarth in the morning and joined Gez for the day. First of all we took care of some basic maintenance - checking that every wheel (and not just the main one!) is securely fixed and all the wooden wedges are not lose.

 

Inside the Wheel

 

Next up was to get some wheat ready for the milling. The wheat comes from a local farm and is fairly clean, but it still needs to be cleaned and any stones  & chaff separated in this 'blower'

 

Blowing Machine

 

So after we oiled everything, got our wheat ready, inspected the grinding stones, aligning the water wheel with the grinding stones, we were nearly ready to start the milling.

 

I obviously knew that we needed to get the water to start turning the water wheel, but what I didn't realised how fairly sophisticated the whole system is.

You can control the water flow and depending how quickly or slowly the wheel turns the grains comes out fine or coarse. (Which is what you want to control for different types of flours and their uses). How genius!

In the next hour or so, I found myself running up and down to the sluice wheel and fine tuning the flow of the water. 

 

Sluice

 

Until the water was turning the wheel the way we wanted it.

Wheel with Water

 

Today we were milling a type of flour called AB Barry which is a type of Canadian wheat grown locally in Hereford. It has about 17% protein (gluten) which is quite strong compared to native English wheat. In the end we milled about 50kg which dully went on to the record sheet. I was chaffed to bits when Gez put my name as the 'miller' and my name was recorded on all flour bags that will be sold in the shops later.

What an achievement!

Flour

 

Apparently I should come down more often, because it's good to have such a 'posh' name on the bags...

Flour Packs

 

I had a great day, learning the art of milling and it was a brilliant feeling to be able to say 'I milled my own flour!'

Talgarth Mill

 

I've enjoyed this experience so much that I decided to share it with others. The Milling experience is part of our 5 day Bread Baking Course, that it's being run in March 2015 in Wales. I can't wait to bring a group of budding bakers back to the mill and show them how to mill their own flour.

Happy Baking!

Magdalena

 


 Inspired to bake bread? I've put together my best 10 tips on getting your loaf right every time' and you can download it for free just here: 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Sarah Koszyk

    So cool! I never thought of doing this! Thanks for inspiring me to at least try to visit a mill!

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  2. shelley

    Wow- this is great- what a process ! There sure is something special about creating your own food form the ground up ! It makes us much more grateful for it- thats for sure ! Thanks for sharing !

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  3. Janelle

    Wow! I would love to take my kids to do something like this. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. farah

    what a fantaastic and unique experience! Great pics telling the story too! How yummy must your bread be, milled with love!

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  5. Magdalena

    Yes, it was a great day! I'm always taken back and humbled by the way technology worked in the olden days - so simple, yet so effective.

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  6. Krystal Bernier

    Way cool, I would love to learn how to mill flour, what a wonderful experience. I actually saw a kitchen appliance for milling flour in an organic market in Calgary. I have been considering purchasing it, but I wouldn't know where to get unmilled wheat from ;)

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  7. Sarah

    Great photos and details to the day, particularly the posh names bit-brilliant! Good mix of facts and your own take on the day, which makes it authentic.

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  8. Joanna

    Wow. Very interesting. Its cool to get an insight like this.

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  9. Cat Athena Louise

    It's so interesting to see how things are done in a traditional way. I love also that I can do this the 'new-fashioned-way' with my Vitamix blender dry container - for things like fresh oatflour pancakes in the morning. :-)

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  10. Star Khechara

    This is so exciting! I recently visited Cotehele house a National Trust property near my house and they had a water-wheel driven flour mill too. There were some manual mills to play with which was fun and later in the baker some fresh warm bread and ginger biscuits to try. Yummy!

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  11. Sarah

    What a fantastic experience

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  12. Kinga

    Fantastic insight. Very interesting to find out more about where our food actually vines from and the processes involved. Really fascinating, especially for foody geek like me :-) love your blog

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  13. Andrea

    I really enjoyed this post and have learned something too. I had no idea how different grades of flour were produced!

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  14. Zoe

    Wow, that's fascinating! And you told the story of the day so beautiful I almost feel like I was there. Thank you for sharing.

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