Bake-Off boosts corn mill sales

Julia Nolan (mill manager) and Jill Darrie (gift shop manager) with the bags
Julia Nolan (mill manager) and Jill Darrie (gift shop manager) with the bags

Heatherslaw Corn Mill has seen a bake off take off as the popular BBC TV programme has sparked an interest in baking.

Sales of stoneground flour, oatmeal, oatflakes and muesli are all doing well at the business based on Ford and Etal Estates.

“There is no doubt that The Great British Bake-Off has brought about a real interest in baking,” says Julia Nolan, head miller.

Heatherslaw’s traditional stoneground flour, milled beside the River Till from locally grown wheat, has sold well, while interest in spelt flour has been particularly strong.

Spelt is a primitive form of wheat which dates back into the Middle Ages and beyond, and which is ideal for those who are not able to tolerate too much wheat flour.

“A number of people unfortunately cannot tolerate the levels of gluten that modern wheat varieties carry,” explained Julia. “Spelt flour has a higher concentration of complex carbohydrates and is more easily digested. The dough needs slightly different treatment – the rule of thumb is to use only about 60% of the amount of other ingredients that you normally incorporate in a standard dough mix. It can give a nice, soft fluffy loaf.”

“People are also more interested in sourcing their food locally,” she added. “The mill is a strong supporter of the new Tasty Trail guide to the good food of Northumberland. At Heatherslaw we have milled flour, oats and barley for over 700 years, and next year it will be 40 years since the current mill was restored.”

Before that, Heatherslaw is linking up with the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre to offer special Christmas gift sets of bread-making bags and breakfast bags, each comprising a selection of Heatherslaw Mill products. The breakfast bag comes complete with a jar of Hay Farm’s own brand of marmalade. These will be available at Christmas events at garden centres in Dunbar, Berwick, Kelso, Edinburgh and Heighley Gate and at Ford Christmas Market on November 30.