Locavore Baking

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Category : Seasonal Menu Ideas, September

Locavore BakingBaking using only local ingredients presents some difficult problems. First of all, there’s the grain used to make flour. No wheat is grown commercially in Whatcom County that I know of. We’re fortunate, though, to have a flour mill based in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham. They try to get grains from as close to home as possible, and they grind them here in the County. That’s local enough for me, at least until someone figures out how to grow wheat in this climate reliably.

The next problem is sugar–not a local product. Honey is produced by bees and harvested by beekeepers in Whatcom County. Sometimes it’s easy to substitute honey for sugar in a recipe. Usually I use a little less honey than I would sugar, and I reduce the liquid ingredients in the recipe slightly since honey is not a dry ingredient.

Baking recipes also commonly use flavoring like vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon, etc. Some locavores opt to use “Marco Polo rules,” which means non-local spices and seasonings are allowed. I’ve been trying to avoid that, though. So many herbs and other flavorings grow abundantly here that I’m trying to find alternatives. Salt is my one exception. Making local salt is more energy intensive in this climate than seems sensible. States like Utah have all the evaporation power they need naturally.

Baking powder provides an important leavening action in baking, and is something for which there’s no local substitute. Since there’s no way to do general baking without it, baking powder is my second non-local exception. I’ve used yeast as an exception, too, for the same reason, but as soon as I have the time I’ll make some sourdough starter and use that instead of yeast for future bread leavening.

This week’s pie recipe was quite a challenge, but the results were well worth it. Let me know what you think!

The rest of the menu is from previous weeks:

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