My visit to Grist & Toll in Pasadena was to buy artisan flour to make a country loaf bread using a dutch oven that will give it that crusty texture and caramel color. I knew that a better bread flour would make the bread taste better and I chose Grist & Toll, because I found them on the business review and social media website called Yelp.
Considered an urban flour mill and far from the lively arts, culture and restaurant center of the historic Old Pasadena district, Grist & Toll is located in a nondescript unit of a commercial building in South Pasadena. Through the doors is a tiny space with a small selection of pre-packaged hand-crafted flours and some baking accessories.
I asked for a recommendation for a flour to make a country loaf bread using a no-knead process. It was suggested that I use the Fife Flour that is specific for bread baking. Then I was instructed to use half Fife Flour and half regular store bought flour as I might not like the strong flavor of a fresh milled wheat flour.
Like many home chefs, I am open to use new ingredients that I’ve never tried especially the fresh ones, because it adds a unique flavor dimension to food.
The recipe that I used is by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. It’s one of my favorite no-knead bread recipes since discovering it online via Mark Bittman and The New York Times.
Grist & Toll’s Fife Flour is an unbleached wheat flour that still has the color of the grain. I used only the Fife Flour instead of the suggested half regular bleached flour and half Fife Flour so I could taste its true flavor. The yeast took to the flour and water instantaneously, which was a good sign. The dough was rising quite nicely without the kneading. After 24-hours, I folded the dough onto itself and proofed it for another couple hours then baked it. The end result was a beautiful bread with a dark caramel color, a crusty shell, and the toasty scent of popcorn or walnut the filled the air throughout my kitchen. The taste of this bread is amazing; it kind of tastes like a milky light roasted coffee. The texture is slightly dense than what a normal bread would be, but I’m sure it would be a more fluffy texture had I used a regular bleached all-purpose flour.
Overall, Grist & Toll has superior products and has met my needs to make a more flavorful homemade bread to eat. They also sell other small batch flours to experiment with in your own kitchen. Their entire line of flours may be a bit pricey than a regular sack of flour at a local market, but anything hand-crafted or artisan comes with a slightly higher price.
990 South Arroyo Parkway #1
Pasadena, CA 91105