Natural leavens mean big flavours
Natural leaven is a piece of dough containing wild strains of yeast and friendly bacteria.We created our leaven from scratch over six years ago. Every time we use it to bake with we keep back a small portion which we 'feed' with more flour and water to use next time. Feeding the leaven with different quantities of flour and water and at different temperatures results in different kinds of fermentation activity by the wild yeasts and friendly bacteria, producing different amounts of flavour and flour-conditioning compounds. By controlling the stiffness and temperature of the dough, a skilled baker can produce a huge variety of flavours and textures in the finished bread.
Flavour is produced by alcohols and acids produced as the wild yeasts and friendly bacteria ferment. Bran particles (the brown flecks in wholemeal flour) absorb these, meaning that wholegrain breads can contain more flavour than their white counterparts.
Stoneground wholegrain flours contain every part of the grain - it is simply made by grinding up the berries of wheat, or rye, or spelt. All the goodness of the grain is in turn contained in the bread. The extra micronutrients in stoneground flour (oils, vitamins and minerals) provide a much greater complexity of flavour, as well as nutritional and health benefits. White flours, and those produced by methods other than stonegrinding, do not contain so many micronutrients; they produce breads that have less flavour and are not nutritious.
Breads made with stoneground flour have more colour than other breads, and their colour deepens over time. Even pure white breads made with stoneground flour have a creamy, yellowish crumb when first baked, and will darken over subsequent days. This is because stoneground white flour is made by sieving the bran out of stoneground wholegrain flour, so the white flour still contains the micronutrients present in the wholegrain flour which were not removed with the bran.