In my last post I wrote about the sprouted wheat flour brought to the festival by Joe Lindley. Pictured here is the breakfast focaccia I made with that flour, along with a whole lot of golden raisins and dried cranberries, glazed with a citrus fondant flavored with orange essence (I put on the glaze after this photo was shot). It was, in a word, delicious! I'll post the recipe next week, after I contact Joe Lindley to find out how you can get some of this amazing flour. I can't promise he'll be able to mail it to you (he hinted at the festival that it might be possible) but I'll find out and let you know.
However, the festival featured a lot more than the unveiling of this flour.
The Carolina Ground Mill Project was also unveiled, just days after the Alan Scott stone mill was finally reassembled within a new wooden framing. This is the project I wrote about a few posts back, so check out organizer Jennifer Lapidus's blog post about it at: http://ncobfp.blogspot.com/2010/10/carolina-ground-l3c.html Joe Ritota, President of Annie's Naturally Bakery, along with Jennifer, gave the first official public glimpse of the mill, which has had a long, circuitous journey from Australia to Asheville, and is now ready to grind exclusively North Carolina grown organic wheat. This is an only-in-Asheville kind of happening, so I hope you get a chance to visit someday.
In addition to all the classes, demos, and amazing bakers on display, I met two delightful bakers who came all the way from Mt. Morris, PA, specializing in Salt Rising Bread. Genevieve Bardwell and Susan Brown became fascinated with this rarely used, traditional technique of fermenting dough that leavens the loaf primarily through bacterial activity rather than yeast. There's a lot to the process, and they told me that sometimes the batches fail, but they have a local and national following for their bread and ship loaves across the country upon request. I brought home a loaf and, at their suggestion, made crispy breakfast toast with it and really liked it because it stayed moist and creamy in the center. The bread has a strange, funky smell (sometimes referred to as "eau de laundry hamper"), yet the more you eat of it the more the flavor grows on you (hopefully, just the flavor and not the bacteria!). Check out their website at www.risingcreekbakery.com and let me know if you buy a loaf and what you think of it. There's some information on the background and method on the site, but I'll see if I can get Genevieve and Susan to, perhaps, write a Guest Column for us to explain more about this bread and how they make it. Whether you like it as much as I did or are repelled by the musty aroma as others are, what I love about this unique bread, and what I loved about the Asheville Bread Festival in general, is how it celebrates tradition and brings us back to a time when food represented a kind of magical, mystical, miraculous substance. It's refreshing, every now and then, to step back into that innocent space and to reconnect with our fascination for how ingredients like wheat can be transformed into something totally new and other -- how the transformation of grass into seeds of wheat, and seeds of wheat into flour, and flour into living dough, and living dough into bread can nourish us on so many levels.