Bread as Agriculture:
A series highlighting Greenmarket baked goods made with local grains.    
Hawthorne Valley's Black Forest Rye
Featured Item #7
Hawthorne Valley Farm's Black Forest Rye   

The idea of Hawthorne Valley Farm's Black Forest Rye was born five years ago, when Director of Farm Operations Steffen Schneider eyed an opportunity in Greenmarket's newly enacted rule requiring bakers to source at least 15 percent of their flour locally. He resolved that one day, the biodynamic farm in upstate New York would stop buying flour for its on-farm organic bakery; instead, it would produce all the flour itself.

And there was a second, equally important incentive: planting grains would enable the farm to further its practice of biodynamic agriculture - a holistic, closed-loop system - by introducing an essential crop to its annual rotations known for its ability to suppress weeds and boost fertility. Today Black Forest Rye is one of two HVF breads made entirely from the farm's own flour, while grain production at HVF has increased from 4 acres in 2008 to 20 acres today.

A handsome, one-pound oblong loaf made with whole-wheat rye flour, caraway, and currants, the Black Forest Rye easily earns its place as the newest highlight for Greenmarket's Bread as Agriculture series. The rye flavor plays a strong supporting role to the upfront kick of caraway and the sweetness of currants. And the outstanding texture, with its substantial crust and springy interior, makes it perfect for pairing with a spread or cheese.

Its superb qualities disguise the many challenges involved in its creation. Growing conditions, weather at the time of harvest, storage practices, and milling technique all affect the quality of the flour. The learning curve has been steep for the HVF staff as they have tried to master every step of the bread-making process, from the field, to the mill -- Hawthorne Valley has a meadows mill where they grind fresh flour daily -- to the bakery.

Producing tasty bread from flour that's milled daily requires the baker to be "present and aware," said HVF's head baker Karen Firth-Linton. But the quality of Hawthorne Valley's Black Forest Rye does justice to the amount of work put into it. Steffen and Karen recommend enjoying the Black Forest Rye with HVF's Clark or Bianca cheeses.


Cheese or not, we say this loaf deserves a taste for its unique ingredients and distinctive flavors.




Hawthorne Valley's Black Forest Rye is available on weekends only at the following Greenmarkets:


Columbia University - Sunday
Inwood -  Saturday
Union Square - Saturday


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