A month ago now we visited farmer Mike Rogers on his coastal organic farm in Beeson to see how our grains are growing and to talk about future plans. Seeing them at this stage you are reminded of how foundational the grass family has become to our societies. It is still a wonder of alchemy to me that profiteroles and springy sourdough bread start from these swathes of green blades.
As well as wheat and spelt (right), we saw two types of oats, yellow peas and maslin, a mixture of wheat and rye. And there is more growing on other farms. We're going to be truly multigrain!
As we walked around the farm we tried to put the world to rights, discussing food prices, the ecological impacts of farming and the livelihoods of farmers. Mike reflected on how times have changed since he started farming and his wish that the world was a surer place for his son as a farmer. When he was raising a family the Milk Marketing Board still existed, a producer run marketing board which guaranteed a buyer and a minimum price for milk producers. As a dairy farmer it meant you could predict what you would earn that year and be able to tell your bank manager with confidence. Gone are the days of such predictability. Nowadays farming can be a volatile and dangerous sector to be in and that is why we think it is important for us to be forging these links with local farmers and forming relationships more enduring than the whimsy of the food markets. Our food producers are families in our communities and responsible for the health of our land and should be treated as such.
We are still looking for premises for milling - we have a few options but none are ideal. If you have - or know of - anywhere suitable, please email holly at transitiontowntotnes.org.
To keep up to date with our progress, ask to go on our mailing list by emailing emily at transitiontowntotnes.org.
Maslin Bread - by Jennifer Ah-Kin on the Love Food website
Maslin is a mixed crop of wheat and rye. It's little grown today, but used to be the staple crop of large numbers of peasant farmers a few hundred years ago. Using wholemeal wheat and dark (wholemeal) rye, maslin bread is a high-fibre, wholesome alternative to the classic white loaf. For more on its history, see 'The history of maslin, the original rustic bread'. Note: this recipe takes longer to cook than normal tin loaves due to its high water content.
- Preparation time 120 mins
- Cooking time 40 mins
- Serves 4 people
- 200 g (7.1oz)wholemeal wheat flour
- 100 g (3.5oz) dark rye flour
- 3 g (0.1oz) dried active yeast
- 5 g (0.2oz) salt
- 260 g (9.2oz) warm water
- Sift the flours over a large bowl to separate out the bran from the finer white flour.
- In a smaller bowl, mix the bran with 130g of warm water. This hydrates the bran so it does not draw water out of the dough when mixed back in.
- Add the yeast and salt to the white flour and stir in.
- Add the hydrated bran back to the white flour, along with the remaining 130g of water. Mix well (no kneading), then leave to stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Prepare a small loaf tin (15 x 9 x 7 cm) by lightly oiling the inside surface. Scrape the wet dough into the loaf tin and level the surface with a spatula.
- Leave to rise for 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on room temperature. The dough is ready when it has expanded to the top of the loaf tin. NOTE: Start to preheat oven to Gas Mark 9 / 250°C when the dough has risen half-way from where it started.
- Bake at Gas Mark 9 / 250°C for 10 minutes, then turn down to Gas Mark 7 / 220°C for 25-35 more minutes. The loaf is ready when the top is mid-brown, and it sounds light and hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.