by Kaitlyn Goalen
photographs by Jillian Clark
I first discovered that I loved to cook through baking. As a teenager I jumped at the chance to make cakes, pies, and sugar cookies, spending hours on lattice crusts and intricate icing patterns.
But even though I’ve always loved to bake, it’s only recently that I gave a second thought to the ingredient behind many of my favorite recipes: flour.
Like most pantry staples, flour isn’t an obvious candidate for the local food movement. But that didn’t stop Jennifer Lapidus from starting Carolina Ground, a craft grain mill, back in 2012.
After more than a decade as a bread baker, first in Tennessee and later in western North Carolina, Lapidus was ready to hang up her apron for good. But a series of events in 2008 pulled her back into the baking orbit, this time from the supply side. First, there was a price hike in wheat, which set the entire industry into a frenzy. It coincided with the work of Dr. David Marshall, a Raleigh wheat breeder, who had just released varieties of bread wheat designed to grow in the Southeast. She wanted to get this wheat into the hands of local bakers.
“I saw this huge gap between the baker and the most fundamental ingredient. I got inspired to fill the void,” she says. She won a grant to fund her new organization, the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project. Its work paved the way for Carolina Ground.
The flours that Lapidus and her miller, Kimberly Thompson, sell today are made from wheat and rye grown to specification by a constellation of small farmers. Using an old wooden-handled stone burr gristmill from Austria, the pair keeps the temperature below 100 degrees while milling, which slows down production but keeps the nutrients and integrity of the grain intact.
All the effort is paying off. Today many bakers choose Carolina Ground flours over commodity offerings. La Farm, the award-winning bakery in Cary, exclusively uses Lapidus’s products, and often acts as a beta-tester for her new lines. And the trend for baking with local grains has found believers with the founders of Raleigh’s Boulted Bread bakery, as well. (See spotlight, pg. 22)
Currently, Lapidus’s Carolina Ground sells bags of bread, whole wheat, pastry, and rye flour through its online shop. I used the rye flour in a tried-and-true galette crust recipe, making a few tweaks, and the result was so good that I might never go back to all-purpose flour. Distinctly earthy and buttery, it paired beautifully with both savory and sweet ingredients.
As the baking season approaches, consider giving greater attention to that pantry workhorse.
Rye Galette Crust
Makes 1 crust
I generally put aside an hour for this recipe, and I double, or even triple it. The dough freezes beautifully and having extra on hand is a boon for short-notice entertaining.
¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup rye flour
2/3 cup pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, beat the egg and the cream. In a food processor, pulse the flours, salt and sugar to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces form. Add half the egg-cream mixture and process. Continue to add the egg mixture in small amounts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Savory Galette with Sweet Potatoes, Apples
and Blue Cheese
Galette dough (recipe on p.71)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 Granny Smith apple
1 yellow onion
8 to 10 brussels sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
½ cup crumbled high-quality blue cheese (I recommend Maytag)
Remove the galette dough from the refrigerator and let it temper (rest to stabilize). Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the vegetables (I like to use a mandolin for this): Thinly slice the sweet potato into rounds and place in a large bowl. Halve and core the apple, then thinly slice it and add to the bowl. Slice the onions lengthwise so that some of the slices remain attached at the root. Slice the brussels sprouts lengthwise as well, and add both to the bowl. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper and the herbs. Toss to coat. Taste a piece: the seasoning should be pronounced.