For some months now, as we’ve driven into York every Friday evening, I’ve seen the sails of the Holgate windmill peeking over the roofs of the houses. But it was only this weekend, after seeing a tweet from The Incredible Movement in York, that I discovered it was a working windmill and not a private house.
The mill has been restored and is now run by volunteers, who open it to the public most months of the year. Back in the late 1700s when the mill was built, it stood on its own, surrounded by open countryside. The restored mill though, sits on a small roundabout with a circle of houses looking on to it. It must make a fine view for the neighbours.
Having become a bit of a bread making obsessive, I loved the chance to visit the windmill and see the source of that vital ingredient – flour. The flour produced at the Holgate windmill is a stoneground wholemeal. The grain is ground between millstones powered either by the wind, or by an electric motor when the weather isn’t just right for turning the sails.
After a climb up through the floors of the mill to see the ‘workings’ and learn how the sacks of grain are turned into bags of flour, of course we couldn’t leave without one of those bags of flour.
After a lot of experimenting with bread recipes as the obsession has taken hold, I’ve settled on a ‘hybrid’ which brings together the best aspects of a couple of recipes to make a loaf that works reliably for me. The loaf starts out as a sponge made the evening before I’m going to bake. A mix of flour, water, salt and sourdough starter – the sponge sits and ferments overnight. When it’s all bubbly and risen the next morning, the sponge is kneaded into a dough made with more flour, salt, water and a little dried yeast. After long, slow rise, the loaf is shaped and baked. This one was made with a mixture of white bread flour and the Holgate windmill wholemeal… a loaf of bread that comes pretty close to perfect.
Do you have a favourite flour or recipe that gives your home made loaf that extra bit of flavour, or extra crusty crust?