The Genesee River and the Erie Canal – two waterways that cut through Rochester NY and once powered mills that ground grains into flour – made 19th-century Rochester a boom-town and the largest flour-producing city in the United States in 1838. Those mills also earned Rochester the nickname of “Flour City.”
As Wegmans begins its 100th anniversary year, its Pittsford store will bring back the best of traditional bread baking, with simple, pure organic ingredients grown near Wegmans stores.
Wegmans Pittsford, which sits little more than a stone’s throw away from the Erie Canal, revives this link to history with the installation of a beautiful, handcrafted mill near the bakery. It is likely the first mill inside a supermarket in the nation.
When it comes to bread, the Osttiroler Getreidemühlen (Tyrolean combination mill) will take freshness to a whole new level. Under the care of Nick Greco, Wegmans’ bread artisan, only organic grains will be used in the mill. The flour will be mixed into dough right away and baked when ready.
The first kind of bread to be made is Einkorn Rye, a moist, dense, chocolate-colored loaf in the shape of a brick. It has a gentle tang with just a hint of sweetness, provided by local honey and molasses. The organic Einkorn and rye used for this bread are grown on farms in Penn Yan, about an hour’s drive from Pittsford. A loaf of Einkorn Rye will sell for $5.50.
Einkorn wheat is an ancient grain first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. It has lower yields than modern wheat varieties, but it can survive droughts and marginal soil conditions better than modern varieties.
“Baking with flour made from locally-sourced grains, right out of the mill, is a very special experience,” Greco says. “There are flavor notes, and a subtle sweetness you can taste in a really fresh loaf that aren’t there if a few weeks have passed since the flour was milled. I compare it to the difference between tasting an apple that’s been in cold storage to a ripe apple you pick from the tree.”