Want to Level Up Your Bread Game? Buy Fresh Flour from These Smaller Mills
During the pandemic lockdown, flour became scarce across the country. The social distancing strictures put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus meant that more people were cooking at home than usual, and baking their own bread, too. In May of 2020, King Arthur Flour sent out almost 6.6 million bags, double what they typically sell in their usual high season in the fall. At my own local grocery store, the baking aisle had been picked clean, save for a few sad-looking bags of white chocolate chips. But that didn't mean there wasn't any flour in the country — there was plenty! You just had to know where to look.
I took this mess as an opportunity to do something I'd been meaning to do for a while, which was to put in a big order at some of the small-scale mills making delicious and interesting flours from fresh grains. As our resident baking guru Paige Grandjean has written before, baking with freshly milled flours requires some subtle adjustments, particularly if you're making bread, but the flavor payoff is well worth it. Like wine, single-origin flour has a terroir, and no two batches are exactly the same.
Here are some excellent small mills where you can nab great flour and other materials for all your baking projects.
This South Carolina company specializes in heritage grains. Aside from several kinds of stone-milled flours, they also offer fantastic grits, the best cornmeal I've ever had in my life, incredible polenta, and heirloom Carolina Gold rice revived from near-extinction.
A favorite of Food & Wine Senior Editor Kat Kinsman, this mill also has a selection of cornmeal, polenta, and hush puppy mix, as well as pastry flour, bread flour, and plain old all-purpose white flour.
Pasadena, California's Grist & Toll sells not just freshly milled flours, but also bread-making kits, accessories, and artfully curated gift boxes.
This Bucks County, Pennsylvania, mill has an array of flours available in various amounts, including bolted rye flour, cornmeal, and germ-in wheat pasta.
Family-owned Wade's Mill has been in business since 1750 and offers all kinds of flour, including white all-purpose and bread flour, as well as baking mixes, corn, and grits.
From a fifth-generation miller team in Illinois, Janie's Mill has every variety of flour in stock, including flours made from ancient grains like einkorn.
This Texas mill is a favorite of our resident baking expert Paige Grandjean, and has flours milled from a number of different grains. They also sort their flours by what you might want to make with them, like biscuits or baguettes, which is a helpful way of looking at artisan grain flour if it's unfamiliar terrain.
Not only does Hayden make gorgeous flours, including ones for pizza and pasta, but they also make really tasty gourmet crackers. The Arizona-based mill offers free shipping on orders over $75.
North Carolina's Lindley Mills is all organic, and ships flour in both two-pound packages and in larger bulk amounts if you're getting really into making bread.