Flour power on the rise thanks to the Bake Off effect

FROM SOGGY bottoms to Baked Alaska-gate, it is perhaps the cookery show that has captured the nation's hearts more than any other.

FLOUR POWER: Holgate Windmill Preservation Society founding trustee Stephen Potts inside the windmill; flour produced by the mill and the Bake Off team. PIC: PA

The Great British Bake Off has been the series that has generated as much controversy as it has entertainment, none more so than with the switch from its beloved slot on the BBC to Channel 4 later this year.

And the programme seems to have had an unexpected impact in Yorkshire, as bakers clamour to try their own skills in the kitchen.

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A community group which runs Yorkshire’s oldest windmill has seen a significant rise in flour sales as amateur bakers seek out quality ingredients for their culinary creations with stone-milled flour.

The Holgate Windmill Preservation Society in York launched a recruitment drive earlier this year to sign up more volunteers to cope with demand.

Jenny Hartland, a former chair of trustees at the society who is now the milling co-ordinator, told The Yorkshire Post that the Bake Off effect has seen sales rise – along with customers’ desire for local produce.

While the mill re-opened in June 2012, commercial milling did not begin until February the following year, and in the intervening period annual flour production has increased from two to four tonnes.

Ms Hartland said: “People are now very keen to try their hand at baking at home and there is an increasing awareness of provenance as to where food comes from.

“As a result, people want to use the best ingredients they can, and The Great British Bake Off has without doubt seen people’s interest increase in baking.

“There is also a desire for the return of green energy, and the basic premise of milling involves gravity and wind power.

“There is a great delight in seeing that working here, and how much more green can you get than the way we produce our flour?”

The five-sailed windmill in York was reopened in 2012 after a £500,000 renovation, which saw the 18th century Grade II-listed building restored to working order.

The Yorkshire Post reported in January that the Holgate Windmill Preservation Society was looking to increase its group of around 30 active members to help with milling flour for customers.

Five more volunteers have now signed up, and the mill has four experienced millers who work one day a week to produce up to 100kg of flour, which is sold to local restaurants, farm shops and individual customers, with proceeds used for the upkeep of the mill. Since it re-opened in 2012, the windmill has become an added feature for York’s hugely popular tourism industry, and has seen visitors from as far afield as Australia, India, China and Japan.

Built in 1770, the landmark building dominates the skyline to the west of the centre of York. It was used until milling ceased in 1933 and the site became semi-derelict as York’s expanding suburbs gradually surrounded 
it.

The Holgate Windmill Preservation Society was established in 2001 to bring
the building back into working order.

The society hopes to generate further interest through a series of open days, with the next event on Bank Holiday Monday next week.

For more information, visit: www.holgatewindmill.org

CHANNEL 4 announced in March that the Great British Bake Off would be hosted by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, with TV chef Prue Leith stepping in to judge alongside Paul Hollywood.

There had been huge speculation about who would take over from BBC favourite Mary Berry, as well as former presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Winners have included Nadiya Hussain, who used to live in Leeds, and Nancy Birtwhistle from Hull.

The show has popularised terms such as soggy bottom – when the base of a pie or tart fails to cook properly. Famous moments include Baked Alaska-gate, when contestant Iain Watters binned his desert after it melted and stormed out of the baking tent.