Look at the back of a bag of flour at the supermarket, and most of the time you’ll see that the list of ingredients begins with wheat flour. “Have you ever thought about what’s in that bag?” asks Austin baker Abby Love, adding that until she met local miller James Brown, she had never thought about herself. Brown, the owner of Barton Springs Mill in Dripping Springs, is a Texas grains activist profiled in the August issue of Texas Monthly. Love, a former pastry chef at Dai Due, has been teaching baking classes at the mill using its products and will open a bakery, L’Oven, adjacent to the mill’s new location when it moves later this year. “To take a craft that I’ve been doing for a decade, and then all of a sudden give me a brand new baseline for doing it? It was just wild,” she recalls.
Love notes that freshly milled flour, as she calls it, behaves differently than the stuff you’re probably used to. It’s thirstier, for one, and recipes like the scones below adjust the liquids accordingly. Additionally, each individual variety of freshly milled flour has its own personality and flavor—which means recipes need to be adjusted further. (She recommends BSM Rouge de Bordeaux for this; see note below.) And, because these are whole-grain flours, they can go bad—you should store them in the refrigerator for four to six weeks, or the freezer for six months.
For this minimal fuss, you will be handsomely rewarded. And not just in terms of flavor. “As a baker, the emotional, mental, and philosophical choice to use [Barton Springs Mill flour] is what it’s doing for the Texas grain economy, for Texas farmers,” Love says. She calls baking and bread “the final frontier of the farm-to-table movement. You’ll go to a restaurant, and they’ll have the name of the farmer of the heirloom radish on their menu, and ‘house-made sourdough.’ What’s that made of?”
L’Oven, of course, will showcase Barton Springs Mill’s grains. Love calls her style of baking rustic, with a focus on artisanal bread, and plans on “small-scale sweets, cookies, little bitty tarts.” There will also be a wood-fired oven that will turn out pizzas made from freshly milled flour, and the flours themselves will be available on-site for purchase. “I really consider myself an ambassador of the mill.”
You don’t have to wait for the bakery to open to get a feel for her baked goods, though. The scones below use Barton Springs’ flours, which you can buy online or at farmers’ markets in the Austin, Dallas, and Houston metro areas.
Whole Wheat Summer Fruit Scones
- 1⅔ cups fresh milled whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup organic cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 cups fruit, rinsed and chopped into a ½-inch chunks
- 6 tablespoons cream
- 1½ tablespoons honey
- 1 egg
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter cubes and, using a pastry cutter or your hands, work the butter into the flour, breaking up any large pieces and working until no more large chunks are visible. The flour will start to look yellowish and take on a crumbly appearance. Stir in the fruit.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, honey, and egg. Add all at once to the fruit mixture. Stir and fold batter with a spatula until no more dry flour remains. Be gentle so you don’t smash the fruit too much. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead 3–4 times, just until the dough comes together. Flour the surface.
- Pat or roll your dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 equal triangles. Transfer to the freezer for the 10–15 minutes you preheat the oven. Set your oven to 400 degrees (see note below). Transfer scones to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart. [Optional: brush with extra cream and sprinkle with turbinado (or raw) sugar.] Bake for 18 minutes or until a gentle press on the center of the scones feels firm.