I got the chance the other day to visit Walk Mill, a traditional water mill that stone grinds it's own wheat. It's near Chester about 40 minutes drive from the bakery, about as local as you can get when it comes to flour. What is also great about Walk Mill is they grow all their own wheat, so what they mill has come from the fields that surrounds them.
We use Walk Mill flour at the bakery, integral in our pastry and shortbread and also in several of our breads. The BFB uses both the white and wholemeal flours, blended for the results we like. We're also working on a new loaf made entirely with the Walk Mill white, its appearing occasionally at the bakery and will be more regular once we've dialled in the process a bit tighter.
Stone ground flour can be tricky to work with, the gentle grinding action of the stones produces a flour that hasn't been heated as much as standard roller milling and leaves more of the bran and germ intact. This generally makes the flour more nutritious and flavoursome, although more tricky to work with as it doesn't condition the gluten in the same way as roller milling.
Flour like this is special, and different, and worth seeking out; either by the bag full if you're a home baker, or by finding a baker that uses proper stone ground flour. However, a word of warning, always check with your baker, because it can be tricky to get good results many bakeries don't use it while still claiming they do. Stone ground can a be a term like Artisan, that is flung around so much that it means nothing, it has no protection.
Should you be a keen baker, we now stock their full range, white, wholemeal, malted and self raising, at the bakery and Allerton Road shop. Of course if you want some advice about baking with it you cal always ask us as well.
Walk Mill is a great place, not only does it have a full working mill, which you can visit and see the grinding in action, but also a shop and cafe, its a great place for a sandwich, cake and coffee when picking up a few supplies, it's well worth a visit.
Walk Mill is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am till 5pm
More details can be found on their website www.walkmillflour.co.uk