The Magic In Milling
Baking has a whole lot of history.
A history that wouldn’t exist without a popular ingredient: flour.
And flour wouldn’t exist without, you guessed it, milling.
A slice of history
Since its origin, the goal of milling has been to create a versatile, digestible ingredient.
When it comes to the raw material, there’s evidence of agriculture and plant domestication in the Near East (North African region) dating back 12,000 years1.
And for flour milling, there’s evidence of hand milling dating as far back as Ancient Egypt – where flour was developed from emmer, an ancestor of wheat.
Though there’s much more to be said when it comes to the earlier traces of flour milling, let’s head to the streets of Ancient Rome: the place where milling really began to develop and reach another level.
This was because baking was big business in Ancient Rome. And big business meant bigger, more efficient mills.
There must be something in the water
The Romans were the first to use waterpower milling for flour around 100 BC2. The waterpower turned large stones which ground the grains, making it more effective and less laboursome compared to the earlier techniques of pummelling the grain by hand.
Watermills (as well as windmills) began to spring up across Europe, producing finer flour than ever before. Though a better method than its predecessors, it’s still not like the flour we know today. This is because flour still contained the germ and bran, making it a darker, grittier version.
It wasn’t until industrialisation that the watermills and windmills started to decline as steam and roller mills came into place.
This process includes a series of steam-powered metal rollers used to break down grains (predominantly wheat in the early days) and remove the germ and bran entirely. The result: a fine white flour.
When white bread became the norm
As time went on, the mills developed even more and their ability to produce flour faster and in larger quantity meant that wheat flour became more accessible and less of a commodity.
But the finer the flour became, the more the goodness was taken out of it. In the reign of white flour, white bread became the norm. The variety of breads available were kept to a minimum as white bread dominated the market. It didn’t stop at just bread either, cakes and other baked goods were also made using the refined flour.
That’s until the milling of specialist flours made an appearance. Giving flavour, nutrition, texture, and functionality an opportunity to shine - and a place on the shelf.
What a difference a grain makes
It’s been long known that there is a difference between wholegrain and refined flour. To recap, here’s the contrast:
It's not just milling that's magic...
Here at EDME our flours are either wholegrain or gluten free. We do specialist flours that include: malted, enzyme active; non enzyme-active; and bespoke mixes. In the case of malted, we source the grain from our sister company, Crisp, which has gone through the 3-step malting process:
The malted grain is then milled by us and produces flours which bring a range of colours, flavours, textures and functionalities to products.