Pakenham Watermill has found a farm in Norfolk which is growing spelt, after our previous supplier stopped production. Milling of this increasingly popular wholemeal flour has now been resumed and it can be bought from the mill or from our usual local retail outlets.

Spelt is genetically related to wheat and there is evidence of it being grown in the middle east as long as 7000 years ago. It has generally been replaced by modern wheat varieties which are cheaper to produce, but interest has revived in recent years. It can be baked in the same way as wholemeal wheat-flour using yeast, but the bread has a rather different texture and flavour which some people prefer. It is also thought to be easier to digest as the gluten has a different composition. It does still contain gluten however, and is therefore not suitable for those who are gluten-intolerant.

The pictures show two loaves made from 100% of the new Pakenham wholemeal spelt flour, and one loaf cut open to show the crumb.

Sourdough hint

One of the milling team at Pakenham, John Wilkin, has been experimenting with baking sourdough bread for some time. Sourdough bread consists only of flour, water and a little salt, with no added yeast, relying instead on the natural organisms in the flour to drive the fermentation. The process is slow, but the bread has a richer flavour and smell, with an open texture.

John’s early results tasted good but looked miserable, as they hadn’t risen properly. However, a friend suggested baking in a pre-heated heavy casserole dish, keeping the lid on. This has produced a spectacular improvement, which John thinks is due to trapping the steam around the loaf, and a more even all-round heating, similar to a brick oven. The loaf pictured was made with a half-and-half mixture of Pakenham wholemeal and strong white flours.

Sourdough (2)

Countryfile Magazine

Pakenham Water Mill voted one of the best landmark sites in Britain by BBC Countryfile Magazine!

Every year the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine runs a competition to celebrate the best of British countryside and to shine a light on places, projects and people who are doing great work. Readers suggest their favourite places all over Britain in eleven different categories such as National Parks, beaches, villages, country pubs and wildlife reserves, etc. A panel of judges goes through them all in a long and detailed process to select a shortlist of five in each category, then it’s back to the readers to vote for the winners.

To our great delight this year the judges shortlisted Pakenham Water Mill as one of the top five in the ‘Landmarks’ category alongside more famous places like Hadrians Wall, and although not surprisingly the Roman wall came out top in the final voting, Pakenham came in third!

This is great news for our historic Suffolk watermill and a recognition of the work done week after week by a team of about forty dedicated volunteers who keep it running, mill the stoneground flour, maintain the grounds, run the lovely tearoom and shop and together make it such a popular place to visit.