Bread 220

Lammas fair in August was originally “Loaf mass” to celebrate the first grain harvest. Not so much a harvest thanksgiving as a celebration of the start of the harvest. This Saturday (3rd August) at St Brycedale Kirk Hall, Kirkcaldy from 1-4 pm we’re having a celebration of bread and harvest traditions.

It’s a free event for all the family. All welcome… we’ll be serving Courgette and Mint Soup and lovely salads, there’ll be craft-making activities to get involved with and you can grind your own flour to take home on our Mill-Bike. We’re delighted to be working with Colin Lindsay, Freuchie’s finest baker who you can follow on @BreadinFife and who’s running bread-making courses all morning.

To celebrate all things Lammas here’s his Mill Report …

My tour round flour mills in late July should have been to four but there were some unexpected problems at Gilchesters in Northumberland so it became three, Little Salkeld in Cumbria, Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire and Bacheldre in Montgomery.

“Just a minute, I’ll move the goat.”  was the greeting I got when I was trying to park at Little Salkeld. I headed in for coffee and bread, four different kinds made on the premises from their own flour, heaven!

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Little Salkeld in Cumbria

My first taste of Little Salkeld water mill near Penrith. It is delightful to visit even if you haven’t the slightest interest in flour especially if you turn up on a glorious day like I did.

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Little Salkeld water mill near Penrith

Here’s a comparison that shows how little the technology has advanced – the first is a modern stone at Little Salkeld used for hand grinding, below that the Roman equivalent found on Hadrian’s wall.

The Roman stone below is part of a display of grinding stones at Chesters on Hadrian’s Wall. Although they are separated by nearly 2000 years not much has changed.

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Modern stone at Little Salkeld used for hand grinding,

Progress? Pah.

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A Roman equivalent millstone on Hadrian’s wall.

Note that the handle on the modern stones has broken off but the Roman handle is still intact. When I explained to the miller how the roman handle was attached he said “Oh, right. I’ll give that a go.”

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The mill at Little Salkeld

Above is the mill at Little Salkeld, below Bacheldre.

Spot the difference : Little Salkeld runs off the overshot wheels “round the back” whereas Bacheldre Mill runs the burr stones and old bolting machines etc off electricity which eventually will be generated most of the time by the overshot wheel “round the back”.

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Bacheldre Mill

Most of the wheat used at Bacheldre is British, supplemented if I remember rightly with wheat from Kazakhstan to reach the desired protein level. The mill is small but the output is enough for Matt Scott (opposite left) to sell via Amazon, offering superb wholemeal bread flour and interesting stuff like smoked malt flour.

IMGP0001_5This ancient & modern approach could be the way forward for mills nearer home – small site, few staff but high volumes of quality flour.

Matt described a Lamas day harvest where the farmer had cut the first wheat, brought it to the mill where it was ground, then baked, all in the same day, and eaten too I expect.

Shipton Mill has two mills, one old water mill which  I didn’t visit where they produce stoneground flours, and a modern factory where there was nothing to see. However a baking class given by Clive Mellum who has been baking bread for around 50 years (he started young) was really the highlight of the trip. I was much too busy to take pictures.

A thoroughly enjoyable trip, lots of bread eaten and lots of new ideas to try out. Now next year …..