Growing up, I had very little exposure to Christmas cookies, or seasons for that matter. Our seasons were citrus, avocado, and mango; and the cookies from the bakeries we shopped in sold rugelach, hamentashin, and black and whites. So when I moved away from home for college, experiencing four distinct seasons was no less than incredible to me, as was discovering the array of Christmas cookies made available in the winter months. Because these cookies only show up during the winter season, I decided a number of years back that I needed to make it my mission to sample the cookies from our various bakeries here in Western NC to see who's doing what and whose I like best. What I discovered is that unlike trying eclairs from all the bakeries and choosing the winning eclair (yes, my daughter and I have done this), an eclair is fairly standard -- pate a choux, pastry cream...-- holiday cookies come in various shapes, sizes, and flavor profile; and even  the same variety -- a ginger cookie, for example-- can manifest in countless form-- soft or snap/ honey or molasses/ pronounced spice or pronounced sweet... Im drawn to the spice cookie variety because there are so many iterations. SO this year, instead of sampling cookies from the bakeries, I found myself considering these cookies and how these flavors of spice and sweet would marry well with our flours. I kept thinking Wren's Abruzzi-- our spicy Southern rye. SO I researched Pfeffernusse recipes and no surprise, found numerous interpretations. I arrived at recipe a from Chowhound, as I felt this was a good place to start--  the sweeter-- brown sugar and honey (no molasses in this take), I felt would complement well with our Wrens; as well as the other listed ingredients-- lemon and orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper...

I did the recipe twice-- once with 100% crema rye (this rye is sifted to 75%); and once with 50/50 Crema Rye and 75Pastry. I liked them both, but for different reasons-- though I feel to really do this right, I need to do one more with 100% 75Pastry, so all three can be compared (next bake). Texture wise--  these cookies are to be crisp around the edges and soft in the middle. Both the 100% rye and 50/50 achieved this, though the 50/50 had a more distinctive crisp to its edge and defined structure. Flavor wise -- the 50/50 carried the spices and zest perfectly; the 100% rye is a good cookie, but I would increase the spice, salt, and lemon zest on the next bake, as side by side with the 50/50, i felt the flavors were a bit overshadowed by the the richer flavor and structure delivered with 100% rye. The 50/50 brought a touch of delicate to this cookie, though the 100% brought more warmth. 

100% Wren's Abruzzi Crema Rye on left; 50/50 Crema Rye/75P on right

So here's the recipe of which I have tweaked a little from the original found at Chowhound

For the 50/50 cookies:

  • 1.5 cups Wren's Abruzzi Crema Rye 
  • 1.5 cups 75Pastry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup honey

For the 100% RYE cookies:

  • 3 cups Wren's Abruzzi Crema Rye
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup honey

For the spiced sugar:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 t salt

To make the spiced sugar:

  1. Sift all ingredients together into a large bowl; set aside.

To make the cookies:

  1. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, salt, allspice, and pepper into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until finely ground, about 25 to 30 seconds. Add the almonds to the flour mixture and stir to combine; set aside.
  3. Place the butter, lemon zest, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until fluffy and combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until incorporated and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds more. Add the honey and beat until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined. (Do not overmix.) Use a dough scraper to scoop dough out of mixing bowl onto a sheet of parchment. Wrap in parchment (I fold parchment around so cookie dough looks like a parcel package about 6"x7"x3"). Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  6. Working quickly with this dough, as it is rye (or a good percentage) so it could have the tendency to stick if one manipulated it too much, roll out between parchment to flatten to about 1 1/2" , and with dough knife I cut about 1/2 pieces and roll quickly between my hands and place  1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the cookies are very lightly browned around the edges, about 5 to 6 minutes more. (The tops will be soft, but they will firm up as the cookies stand.) Transfer the baking sheets to 2 wire racks and let the cookies sit until cool enough to handle but still warm, about 3 minutes.
  7. Drop the warm cookies into the spiced sugar, making sure to coat them all over, then shake off any excess sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Repeat baking and sugarcoating with the remaining dough. Store the cookies in an airtight container, layered between pieces of waxed paper, for up to 3 weeks.

Happy Baking!

from the ground up,


Chocolate Rye Brownies

SO I've become a bit obsessed with Instagram lately. It's like I get this front row seat to view the final, long awaited for embrace of whole grains. When I was running my bakery-- from 1994-2008--I was intent on changing peoples perception of whole grains-- that the whole wheat bread of the 1970s was not really bread, and that approached with freshly milled flours, and cultures to naturally leaven one's dough-- a level of sophistication could be found in a simple loaf of real bread. And now, fast forward to 2016 and the bakers of today are knocking it out of the field. (And we have the honor of milling for some of them.) But Instagram shows me more than just the professional bakers-- I get to see what home bakers are doing with our flour! One of my favorite home bakers to watch these days is @Brooklynbreadnerd -- he's doing some lovely breads with our flours (and Anson Mills flours) and last week he posted a picture of Chocolate Rye Brownies made with our Wren's Abruzzi!  I reached out to him for the recipe, so now i present to you, our guest recipe submission from @Brooklynbreadnerd:

I have always found rye flour to have a lovely grassy flavor which pairs beautifully with dark, earthy chocolate.  These brownies are rich and decadent, but not too sweet.

150g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter

300g (11 ounces) dark chocolate (60-70 percent cocoa solids), broken into pieces or chopped

50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

200g (1 1/3 cups) whole grain rye flour (I used Wren’s Abruzzi Rye)

2g (1/2 tsp) aluminum-free baking powder

8g (1 tsp) sea salt 

200g (1 cup) granulated sugar (feel free to use unrefined cane sugar as well)

200g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) light brown sugar

200g (4 large) eggs

12g (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract 

about a teaspoon of flaky salt to sprinkle on top - Fleur de sel (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a 9X13-inch baking pan, line with parchment, and butter the parchment as well.  You could let some of the parchment hang over the sides of the pan so that you can remove your brownies more easily once they are baked.  

Melt your butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or using short bursts in the microwave.  Stir occasionally as this mixture melts.  

In another bowl, whisk together the cocoa, rye flour, baking powder, and salt.  

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk together the sugars, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Switch to the paddle attachment, and slowly add the chocolate mixture, followed by the dry ingredients.  Mix just enough to combine, then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  

Smooth the top with an offset or rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the brownies are set.  Be careful not to over bake.  Let the brownies cool completely before cutting them.  I cut my brownies into twelve.  



Graham Crackers take two: BUCKWHEAT GRAHAMS!

Okay, so this is the basic Graham Cracker recipe from the last post with just a few changes. We've added buckwheat, and with this addition, we've cut back on the brown sugar. Pulling back on the sugar allows the flavor forward buckwheat to take on a more pronounced role in this grand graham.  All of these flours are available at carolinaground.com

So here's the recipe:

˜1/2C + 1 T Graham Flour
1/2C + T Buckwheat Flour 
1/4C 75B
1/3 C brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t good quality sea salt (Celtic is my favorite)
3 1/2T cold unsalted butter
2T + 2t honey
2 1/2 T milk
1 T vanilla
For process, refer to our last post: Graham Crackers

Savory Gallette with Sweet Potatoes and Apples in a Rye Crust

Rye Galette Crust
Makes 1 crust
I generally put aside an hour for this recipe, and I double, or even triple it. The dough freezes beautifully and having extra on hand is a boon for short-notice entertaining.
1 egg
¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup rye flour
2/3 cup pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, beat the egg and the cream. In a food processor, pulse the flours, salt and sugar to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces form. Add half the egg-cream mixture and process. Continue to add the egg mixture in small amounts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

Savory Galette with Sweet Potatoes, Apples
and Blue Cheese
Galette dough (recipe on p.71)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 Granny Smith apple
1 yellow onion
8 to 10 brussels sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
½ cup crumbled high-quality blue cheese (I recommend Maytag)
Remove the galette dough from the refrigerator and let it temper (rest to stabilize). Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the vegetables (I like to use a mandolin for this): Thinly slice the sweet potato into rounds and place in a large bowl. Halve and core the apple, then thinly slice it and add to the bowl. Slice the onions lengthwise so that some of the slices remain attached at the root. Slice the brussels sprouts lengthwise as well, and add both to the bowl. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper and the herbs. Toss to coat. Taste a piece: the seasoning should be pronounced.

Read more here: http://www.waltermagazine.com/from-our-fields-whole-grains/#storylink=cpy

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

The below recipe is from one of our favorite chefs, Lance Gummere, co-owner of Bantam + Biddy in Atlanta. He submitted this recipe to Food + Wine Magazine, and F+W perfected it in their test kitchen using our CG WW Pastry flour.

Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits


  • ACTIVE: 15 MIN

Chef Lance Gummere makes these incredible biscuits with just a little bit of cheddar cheese to give them a savory flavor

  1. 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  2. 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  6. 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  7. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the cheddar cheese. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub or cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Mix in the buttermilk, stirring, just until the dough holds together.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 7 1/2-inch square that's 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into nine 2 1/2-inch squares and transfer the squares to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for about 12 minutes, until golden brown on top. Let the biscuits cool slightly and serve.

Rye Scones

Contributed by Tara Jensen, Smoke Signals Baking

Carolina Ground Type 75 Pastry Flour 3 2/4 cup

Carolina Ground Crema Rye Flour 1/4 cup

Baking powder 1 tbl

Baking soda 3/4 tsp

Sugar  1/2 cup

Salt 1 tsp

Unsalted butter, cold 1 cup

Buttermilk 1 1/2 cups + more

Vanilla 1 tsp

Lemon zest 1 tsp

Egg yolks 2

Heavy Cream 2 tbl

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut the cold butter into pea-sized cubes and scatter over the dry ingredients. Incorporate into the mix by cutting in with two forks. Add the buttermilk along with the lemon zest and vanilla. Mix together with a wooden spoon till you have a dough that holds together. If it looks/feels dry drizzle a bit more buttermilk. Dust your counter lightly and turn the dough out. Gently pat the dough into 8" circle and cut into 8 equal wedges. 

Prepare your egg wash by whisking together 2 egg yolks and 2 tbl heavy cream. Place scones on the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake until the tops are golden brown. Aprox 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve while still warm. 

Appalachian White Crackers

Contributed by Tara Jensen, Smoke Signals Baking

I love snow days. Everything is quiet, pristine and sheltered. Out in the country the plows rarely come by before noon, which means we get to pretend we are "snowed in."  So, when I woke up to a pasture full of white fluff yesterday I put on the tea kettle and pulled down the cookbooks. I had my heart settled on making crackers after browsing the kitchen and finding a hidden bottle of wine and a few chunks of aged cheddar. That, and I was excited to experiment with some freshly milled Appalachian White flour. Low in protein and light in color, this flour was the perfect cracker candidate. 

Crackers are an amazing vehicle for almost any type of cheese, jam, spread or oil.  Surprisingly easy and fun to make, these crispy treats take little time to prepare and are instantly gratifying. In the end I got some great help from Hedi Swanson's online journal of 101 Cookbooks, using her olive oil cracker recipe, modifying it slightly for our flour choice. 

Appalachian White Crackers:

3 cups appalachian white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt + some for topping

1 cup warm water + a bit to add in if neccessary

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together flour & salt. Add water and oil to the dry mix. The dough should be slightly tacky. Not too dry or too sticky. Slowly add flour or warm water accordingly. Once the dough has been mixed, divide it in half, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment. (If you turn your baking sheet upside down and lightly flour the parchment you may roll your dough directly on the sheet pan. I did this for my second attempt.) Roll out your dough paper thin. This is important: the thinner the dough, the crisper the cracker. Transfer to sheet pan and top with ingredients of your choice. I brushed my first batch with olive oil, salt & poppy seeds and loaded the second try with crushed sage, cheddar and black pepper. The herbs were a great addition I would highly recommend. Bake until golden brown. Let your crackers fully cool before you eat them to get a real snap. Enjoy & share!