Did you know that Arizona was once called a “breadbasket” and that the state’s wheat fields were once used to feed armies? Or that commercial wheat absorbs over 100 chemicals to become bread?
These are just some of the facts you’ll learn in Emma Zimmerman’s new book, The Miller’s Daughter: Unusual Flours and Heritage Grains: Stories and Recipes from Hayden Flour Mills. Zimmerman is the co-owner of the Hayden Flour Mills in the Valley, which are dedicated to milling old heritage grains.
The mill was founded by Charles Hayden in 1874. While traveling, Hayden became stranded in Tempe due to high water in the Salt River. Standing on Tempe Butte, he surveyed the vast fertile lands that surrounded it and imagined a mill. He finally realized his dream and Hayden Mills remained in business until 1998. Emma Zimmerman and her father, Jeff, revived it in 2011.
When asked what inspired her book, Emma replied, “We got a lot of media coverage and the stories mostly covered our success. I wanted to say it in the first person and talk about the challenges we faced.
The early chapters of the book provide insight into Zimmerman’s life and explore the history of the grain, the flour mill, and the company itself. These are followed by the Cooking Notes section, which includes recipes developed by the author that revolve around heirloom grains.
Zimmerman’s involvement with Hayden Mills began as one of her father’s wild ideas, she says. Jeff Zimmerman is an idea generator and Emma had to learn how to deal with ideas she says yes to.
Emma had a doctorate. student of neuroethics (a combination of bioethics and neuroscience) at McGill University in 2009 when her father floated the idea of restarting Tempe’s historic Hayden Flour Mills. Jeff was, and still is, an avid baker. Bakers love to experiment while improving their skills, and Jeff has started grinding his own flour for his bread. When he did, he noticed a marked improvement in the bread’s depth of flavor. That’s when the light bulb went out. He wanted others to benefit from the flour.
At the 2010 Local First Arizona’s Farmer+Chef Connection conference (an event that connects farmers and local chefs), Jeff rented a table with nothing to sell, just a sign saying he was looking for farmers who wanted grow wheat and chefs who wanted to use the resulting flour.
In 2011, Chris Bianco, looking to use local wheat for his pizzeria, gave Jeff and Emma space to set up their grinder in one of his restaurants, for free. On August 13, 2011, the father-daughter team ordered an Austrian 32-inch stone mill, or stone grain grinder, and officially started his business. They named it Hayden Flour Mills, after Charles Hayden’s milling company.
A grain of grain has three parts: the bran, which is the protective outer layer; the endosperm, or the starchy part; and the germ, the oily part. Grinding separates the endosperm from the rest. ButResults may differ significantly depending on the process used.
Separation can be done by stone grinding (how grinding began) or by sending the grain through several metal rollers (how it was done after industrialization).
A stone mill is made up of two round, furrowed stones. The grain is deposited in the center, then crushed by the rotation of one stone against the other. The final product comes out on the periphery.
In roller mills, the grains pass through pairs of fluted metal rollers with a much smaller contact surface. Therefore, the grain must pass through several rollers. The different sizes are then separated by weight. Industrial sieves are so precise that they remove all the bran, thereby robbing the flour of its nutrients – hence the need for fortification with added vitamins.
The Zimmermans noticed that millstone grinding resulted in better flavor because no matter how well the flour was sifted, there was always some bran left in the final product.
While researching wheat that grew before the industrialization of agriculture, they came across white Sonoran wheat, grown in northern Mexico, southern Arizona and southern California for 400 year. The seed was hard to find until Gary Nabhan, the founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, offered to help. Founded in 1983, Native Seeds/SEARCH is a bank of drought-tolerant seeds native to the Southwest, some of which are in danger of extinction.
A family friend, Steve Sossaman, agreed to plant Sonoran’s first crop of 1,000 pounds of white seed. Sossaman Farms is still one of the main farmers of the Zimmermans.
Hayden Flour Mills has come a long way since his days in the back of Chris Bianco’s restaurant. Ten years ago, Jeff and Emma grew 30 acres of wheat; now they have 400 acres. In addition to Sonoran white wheat, Hayden offers other ancient grains, two types of pasta wheat from Iraq, a Tibetan purple barley, Gazelle rye and einkorn.
Along the way, father and daughter have won numerous grants and accolades, but they have also faced and overcome many obstacles, including pest-infested grain, broken equipment and the inability to make payroll. What drove them forward was the belief that traditional grains taste great and are good for the human body.
The Cooking Notes section of The Millers’ Daughter includes nearly 90 recipes developed by Emma and is divided into 10 parts (nine cereals, one legume). In each, she outlines the grain’s flavor profile and also offers substitutes.
Its precision is remarkable. She uses weight and volume as units of measurement, emphasizing their importance over cups and spoons. Because each grain has a different density, a cup of farro is very different from a cup of oats, for example. However, since the goal is to expose as many people as possible to ancient grains, it also provides cup measurements.
Developing the recipes, Emma thought of her favorite meals growing up and tweaked them slightly to make heritage grain the star, covering sweet and savory dishes, starters, main courses and desserts. For baked goods, she enlisted the help of pastry chef Tracy Dempsey, owner of Tracy Dempsey Originals.
The recipes are intentionally universal, “so, for example, you can pick up freshly ground polenta from any local mill and make pink polenta,” says Emma. Readers will find a list of mills in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zealand and the United Kingdom in the resource section of the book.
The following recipe is taken from The Millers’ Daughter:
Farro Banana Chocolate Bread
It’s kind of like picking a favorite child, but if you really twisted my arm, I’d admit that farro is my favorite grain. In addition to having the flavor of roasted nuts, it has the seniority of being among the oldest grains in the world. There are very few recipes for farro flour, so I started out using it in place of half the flour in my favorite baked goods. Recently I tried replacing everything with farro flour and found to my delight that it still worked. There is no turning back now.
This is a very basic banana bread recipe, designed to let the farro flour shine and convince you of the ease and flavor of swapping heirloom grains into your baking. This is a perfect recipe to bookmark if you’re just starting out or maybe a little skeptical about baking with these new flours.
For 8 people
3 very ripe bananas (see tip)
115 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) melted coconut oil
110 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) brown sugar
200 g (7 oz/1 1/4 cups) Farro flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
60 g (2 oz) bittersweet dark chocolate
2 tablespoons turbinado or raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease or line a 23 cm × 13 cm (9 in × 5 in) loaf (bar) pan with parchment (baking) paper, leaving a 5 cm (2 in) overhang on each long side to facilitate baking. unmoulding of the bread.
Mash the bananas in a bowl and mix in the yogurt and vanilla.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil and brown sugar on medium speed, adding the eggs one at a time. Blend for about 3 minutes until creamy and light in color, then add the banana mixture and blend on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add to banana batter and mix on low speed until just combined.
Using a sharp knife, crumble the chocolate. This doesn’t have to be a precise process, as different sizes of chocolate will create a speckled look when you slice the banana bread. Gently fold the chocolate into the batter – be careful not to over mix or let the chocolate melt into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface, then sprinkle the turbinado or raw sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into thick slices. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
I always have a supply of ripe black bananas in the freezer. I place the bananas on the counter in a bowl to defrost for an hour or two before I start cooking. Interestingly, I have found that letting ripe bananas sit longer, say all day, gives them a nice caramelized flavor.
AUTHOR: Emma Zimmermann
BOOK: The Miller’s Daughter
PUBLISHER: Hardie Grant Books (ISBN 9781743797105)
ON SALE DATE: May 17, 2022
MSRP: $29.99 (hardcover)
Photo credit :
Suggested credit: Recipes taken with permission from The Millers’ Daughterby Emma Zimmerman, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2022.