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…or so the old saying goes… and if your ingredients aren’t the cream of the crop, you might end up with a soggy bottom. Which is precisely (maybe) why Nick Leach from 2 Food Made Good Star Portsmouth University looked beyond the usual to seek out the finest flour of the hour.

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Struggling to find quality organic flour in Hampshire, Nick Leach, Head of Catering Services at Portsmouth Uni, cast his gaze westward and back in time about 180 years to Stoate & Sons at Cann Mills, Dorset.

Producing stone ground flours since 1832 and now in their 5th generation, it’s safe to say that the Stoate’s know a thing or two about milling. Practicing strictly traditional techniques, Cann Mills use French Burr millstones from Le-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – widely recognised as the best in the world if you mill about in the right circles. This produces flour with unrivaled softness and distribution of wheat germ oil – vital for a good bake and maintaining the health benefits of the flour.

Maintenance of the millstones has become a key skill for the Stoates, with the millstone repairman all but extinct. In one final hurrah of tradition and sustainability, the mill is powered with clean energy. Not solar, wind or biofiels, but powered by a mighty 19th Century iron waterwheel harnessing the power of the Sturkel, a tributary of the River Stour.

So what’s the grind we asked Nick… “This ticked all the boxes for us as it was one of our action points from our last Food Made Good assessment”

“Small, semi local and very much made in the old tradition way. Even down to still being water run from the lake behind the mill”

But is it any good?

“It makes the most incredible biscuits and cakes as it’s more refined and much softer. Our customers have definitely noticed the difference”

And there we have it, alongside rare breeds, heritage veg and ancient grains, traditional production methods keeping history alive could be on the comeback for British food – although I’m not putting my hand up for churning butter any time soon…

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