Flour often is taken for granted by most American bakers, unless of course it is not performing well. They know much about flour once the bags arrive at their bakeries. But, their knowledge of how that flour came to be likely has a few gaps. In an attempt to fill in some of those gaps, Farmer Direct Foods, Atchison, Kan., brought together bakers and farmers last month for its 3rd Annual Farmer-Baker Forum, beginning in Kansas City, Mo.
“There seems to be a desire among bakers and consumers to connect to where their food comes from,” said Kent Symns, president, Farmer Direct Foods, a cooperative of white wheat farmers.
The three-day trek took bakers through Kansas State University’s Grain Science Program, the American Institute of Baking, the USDA Grain Research Lab and the AgriPro Wheat Research Station. Tour topics ranged from breeding pure lines of wheat, to farming and harvesting the wheat, to various milling processes. The highlight for most bakers on the tour, however, was touring the wheat farms around Salina, Kan., and riding on a combine to harvest hard white wheat.
Farmers also demonstrated the different qualities of white wheat. White wheat flour offers the same nutritional claims as traditional red wheats, the dominant wheat grown and processed in the United States for bread flour. “The biggest difference is in the bran of the two wheats,” Symns said. “White wheat is much less bitter, has a milder flavor and a lighter color.”