Sunday, 18 December 2011

Date & Honey Sourdough Bread and A Visit To Denver Windmill

I started this blog post on the 27th of November - the evening Oliver and I got back from our trip to Denver windmill. I don't know where the time has gone since then.... I've been working crazy hours to cope with the volume of emails and orders due to the pre-Christmas rush and the blog has been sadly been neglected. I've not been ignoring any of you, I've simply not been around.

Denver Windmill is (was) the last remaining commercial working windmill in Norfolk producing stone ground flour. I say was, as only a month before our visit tragedy struck and the mill was badly damaged. You can read all about it here.

Here is my refreshment recipe for my starter.

2 tablespoons of starter from your vat in the fridge
5 well rounded tbsp of strong white bread flour
1 well rounded tbsp of rye flour
mix with enough luke warm water to reach a dropping consistency (much like cake batter !)

Cover with clingfilm and leave on the kitchen counter overnight.

It should be nice and bubbly by the morning. Discard about half (of put it in another bowl if you intend making more than one loaf and do the next following steps to both lots of gloop).

To the remaining gloop, add about 2 > 3 times the amount of white wheat flour and enough water to get it back to dropping consistency. Leave for about 6 hours and it's then ready to bake. If it's not bubbling nicely, this step can be repeated. As long as there are a good amount of bubbles there, don't worry if it is not as foamy as it was after sitting for 12 hours. I've been doing this bit by eye as above and without weighing.

Whilst there, I purchased some newly milled flour and made this honey, date and raisin sourdough loaf the next day.


100g rye flour
400g stoneground dressed bread flour *
10g salt
3 tbsp runny honey
220g refreshed sourdough starter
250g water
150g chopped medijool dates
50g raisins

This can be mixed together and kneaded by hand - or shove in a Kitchen Aid with dough hook for 10 mins. I know, I know sourdough should be treated softly softly... but it is not always as convenient to do the lot by hand. I had several things going on tonight in the kitchen whilst my trusty Kitchen Aid worked my dough.

Once the dough is kneaded and has become soft and silky, put it back in the mixing bowl and cover with either a plastic shower cap or some cling film and leave for approx 3 hours until risen by about 50 > 75%

Take out, knock back and shape as required.

Put on a baking tray and leave to rise for another 1 > 1.1.2 hours before baking in a relatively warm environment.

I cut out a stencil of initials from an envelope. Wet the stencil and apply to the bread.

 Dust over lightly with flour

Remove stencil and bake for an artisan finish.

Yummy served slightly warm from the oven served simply with some butter and cheeses.

Of course, a visit to a windmill wouldn't be the same without going up the actual windmill. Oliver will show you around....

Oliver - scampering up the first lot of steps into the windmill

This is the floor where the flour is sent through a hopper system and into large sacks. These are then lowered to the floor below (via a hoist) through a hatch in the floor. Kind of hard to take decent photos as not really possible to get any further back. 

You can see the hoppers a bit better in this semi aerial view from the stairs to the next level.

Milling stones are on the next floor above. Again, rather impossible to get much in. Loads of equipment lying around and cordoned off given everything is in a state of repair.

Oliver going up yet more stairs. They were very steep and getting interesting by this point. He did well and managed up no problem. Coming down took quite lot longer as he was not nearly so confident and was rather "interesting". Still - he was very brave and came home with a certificate to say he'd got to the top.

This is a hopper that the grain is fed into, which in turn is fed to the millstones on floors below.

Once so pretty, this windmill is now sadly need of some restoration work. Thankfully, the people who have the tenancy are still managing to operate thanks to an engine powered mill.

 You can see in this photo why we couldn't go out the door of the tower and walk round the outside. Eeek !

Oliver was fascinated by the big gears on the top floor of the windmill. What a shame is wasn't working when we were there !

After all that - it was time for a cup of tea and some lunch in the tearoom. We can recommend the bread baked on site from the newly milled flour !


  1. Last time I visited a mill, I had a bad back and I declined a visit to the top floor. I was pretty sure I could get up but knew I'd struggle coming back down! So I know how Oliver felt!

  2. Awesome bread and beautiful color. Oliver looks cute!

  3. going up to the top was worth the effort it took to get Oliver back down.

    Be lovely to go back when it's fixed and back in working order. We're looking forward to it :-)

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