The CGA general membership gathered on August 27, 2018 at Sub Rosa Bakery in Richmond for our quarterly meeting. For this event, Evrim Dogu of Sub Rosa led us on an exploration of milling and making dough using different types of wheat.
In order make good local bread, we first needed to talk about what makes Virginia-grown bread wheat unique. Nu-East is the most common variety available here because of its good baking characteristics and ability to thrive in hot and humid weather. Dogu noted that for most Virginia-grown grain, the high protein levels common with Nu-East do not always indicate a strong flour that will hold up well to the mixing process. Virginia wheat also tends to have a thin bran layer.
Using the pink granite stones of the on-site mill, we ground up batches of Nu-East from two Virginia farms. Subtle differences in color were visible both in the grain and in the flours, which were then put through the sifter. Most of Sub Rosa’s breads are made with “high extraction” flours, which are sifted to remove the coarse bran particles, making for a more open crumb. The bran is then traded to a local mushroom grower for use as a mushroom growing medium!
We spent the final session in the kitchen, mixing a few types of bread dough. We compared and contrasted doughs made with only Nu-East wheat grown in Virginia with Yecora Rojo, a variety grown mostly in the western US known for its excellent nutty flavor. Both high-hydration doughs developed nicely, although the Yecora was noticeably stiffer and better able to hold its shape in free-form rounds.
Both varieties baked off into delicious flatbread the next day. While we may not have a tremendous variety of bread wheat currently available for the East Coast, this workshop demonstrated that what is available now can indeed make great, flavorful bread. The more we learn about mid Atlantic wheat, the more true this will become.