Lately, I have been filling out my farmers market forms, to get my pastry business a booth in some of the fall markets. Page after page of questions, rules, and regulations are mulled over with a glass of wine, but there is one that leaves me a little befuddled, pondering how to best answer.
The section on the form that asks the entrant for the percentage of locally used products. I always skip this line and come back at the end. I try to utilize as many local products as possible, but when your main ingredients are flour, sugar, butter, cream, and eggs, how do you consistently accomplish it using local?
Slowly, new businesses are popping up, offering goods that I need to make my pastry, however, the challenge then is the cost of these goods. The producers of these products work hard and deserve to be paid accordingly, but when all is said and done, will you buy an $8 croissant from me?
The bottom line: All of us local producers are running small businesses, and we all need to be able to put food on our tables. As this perpetually shifting line of locality continues to move, I constantly will be adjusting my business model to incorporate as many fellow local producers products as possible. In this series of How to Create Local Pastry posts, I will try to show you how we can all be using local products more readily, so we can constantly support local everyday and not just once in a while, when we want to make a special recipe.
Hayden Flour Mills' amazing flour has exploded into the Phoenix market. Four years ago, on the search for better flour, I was ordering flour from a small mill in Arkansas that would mill the flour and ship it to me the next day. Or I would purchase from King Arthur Flour, out of Vermont. There is so much to learn as far as flour is concerned, and I am learning new things every day, experimenting with different types and brands of flour.
Hayden Flour Mills flour is a bit heartier than some of the other flours, due to the stone-ground milling process. The process crushes the grain more thoroughly before it is sieved, thus leading a refined flour like all-purpose, to have a bit more germ and bran in the end result.
It is exciting to be utilizing an heirloom wheat that is making a reappearance from days gone by, brightening our breads and baked goods by adding depth and an unique Arizona flavor. I always use organic, non-GMO flour for my pastry business (though I don't use King Arthur Flour, as it is not readily available in wholesale quantities, it is a great product for consumers to use alongside Hayden Flour Mills flour), and then I will add in some Hayden Flour Mills flour where I know it can truly be tasted, or enhance a recipe.
My favorite HFM product -- one that I have been working to incorporate into one of my key pastry products -- is whole wheat, as it is so flavorful and adds a robust depth to some of my pastry. An example of how I'm using my blending method of different flours, a recipe that calls for both AP and whole wheat, I will use King Arthur (or another organic) AP flour and Hayden Flour Mills Whole Wheat flour. I definitely still can taste the whole wheat flour, and because the AP flour I use is not ground on a stone mill, there is a balance to the heartiness.
In recipes that call for AP Flour, I like to substitute half the amount called for of Hayden Flour Mills Arizona Rose All Purpose Flour or their Type 00 Flour into the recipe. This keeps my costs down, and I am still able to taste some of the delicious local flour.
I'm currently working on a recipe for biscuits, using a blend of the different Hayden Flour Mills flours. It will be my first 100 percent Hayden Flour Mills flour product, as well as an obscene amount of bacon fat.
Next up in our series on Local Pastry, Eggs!
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.