Dara Gallinger was puzzled as to why so many gluten-sensitive folks in Toronto can enjoy pasta and bread in Europe without any issues. After touring bakeries in both North America and Europe, she found the missing link – European bakers work closely with their flour millers. “The first thing they talked about was their relationship with the person milling their flour and the traceability of the grain,” she says.
Gallinger brought this idea home with her to launch Brodflour in early 2019. Swedish baker Robert Edberg helped design the bakery’s Scandinavian-inspired recipes and techniques, which produce a very moist and sticky loaf. Using grains sourced from organic farmers in Manitoba and Peterborough, Brodflour mills flour on-site for its fresh seeded sourdoughs and challah loaves, along with a popular rotating menu of Scandinavian rye bread like a dark and sweet loaf with molasses and caraway. The bakery also offers toasts and open-face sandwiches for lunch alongside traditional pastries like cinnamon rolls, brownies and cookies.
Gallinger says that unlike commercial options, freshly milled flour brings out the unique geographical characteristics of each type of wheat. “There's a terroir associated with these grains,” she says. “The same way you talk about wine or coffee, we can now talk about bread or flour. We’re introducing people to how dynamic and diverse grains are and I find that really exciting.”
Bread, and carbs in general, may have fallen out of favour in recent years. But with Brodflour’s approach, Gallinger hopes to reintroduce customers to the idea of bread as local food from grain to loaf. “We've seen this resurgence of good, whole foods in categories like meat, produce, dairy and cheese, but it hasn't touched bread, grains and flour, for some reason,” she says. “I think it's timely. We’re getting people back to bread.”
While she can’t give the green light on her products to those with celiac disease, folks with sensitivities may find themselves delightfully surprised by Brodflour’s goods.
When she was unable to find a source for fresh-milled flour in Toronto, Gallinger purchased her own stone mill from Vermont to mill grains on-site. She sources her grains from organic, sustainably minded farmers in Manitoba and Peterborough, seeking out unusual and ancient Canadian grains like red fife, einkorn and emmer along with hard wheat, rye and spelt.
Commercial flour processors remove the germ and bran layers of wheat that are nutritious but spoil quickly. In contrast, freshly milled whole wheat flour is wet, sticky and oily. Since fresh flour becomes less nutritious within two weeks, Brodflour uses theirs within a day or two.
While Brodflour supplies fresh loaves to restaurants and grocers like Rodney’s Oyster House, Dreyfus and Unboxed Market, their flour is also a popular ingredient for Toronto chefs. The bakery's freshly milled flour gets taken to Buca, Ufficio and Giulietta for pasta and pizza doughs.