This past July I was three months into my sourdough baking journey and spending lots of time perusing social media and researching ingredients, recipes and techniques. It so happened that towards the end of the month, a cousin of mine mentioned plans to visit a flour mill in Pennsylvania with his wife. While I wasn’t able to go with them, I immediately went to the mill’s website and became increasingly excited to try out their flours. One week later, I decided to email one of the mill’s owners about the possiblity of a blog sponsorship. To my surprise, she called me that day and agreed to both sponsoring The Brewed Palate and sending me some of her mill’s flours to bake with. Fast forwarding yet again, shortly after contacting Cairnspring Mills CEO Kevin Morse about an interview for this series, I emailed this mill’s co-owner once again and after exchanging a few emails, a date and time were set for me to visit the mill and interview her and her husband.
History, craftmanship, and dedication to good quality food; three qualities that characterize this week’s featured bakers, Mark and Fran Fischer of Castle Valley Mill. Located in Doylestown, PA, Mark has spent the past 13 years restoring the late 18th century mill that his father purchased in 1947. While not complete, Mark has brought Castle Valley Mill back into operating order and currently processes and mills an impressive variety of grains and heirloom corn with the help of Fran and their children.
On Wednesday, October 14th I headed to the mill and was greeted by Fran. After taking some time to admire the adjacent river and mill’s property, she proceeded to take me on a wonderful tour of the mill itself. Audio was recorded, pictures were taken, and then edited into an audio-visual tour video. However, I’ve chosen to post the interview that I recorded with Mark and Fran first in order to share what I find most special about Castle Valley Mill. The passion, dedication, and knowledge of its owners.
So without further ado, it is my honor to present to you Mark and Fran Fischer of Castle Valley Mill.
The following topics were discussed during the coarse of this interview:
- The process of restoring old grain mills and Mark’s restoration process at Castle Valley Mill. [start-3:25]
- How Mark and Fran source the grains that they mill and prepare them for milling. [3:36-6:11]
- Castle Valley Mill’s relationships with its local farmers and what’s unique about growing heirloom varietals of wheat in Pennsylvania. [6:12-8:40]
- Mark’s milling philosophy and methods. [8:41-10:29]
- Mark’s homebaking and the changes in the aroma and flavor profiles of Castle Valley Mill’s (CVM) flours from year to year. [10:30-13:37]
- CVM’s growing and milling of heirloom varities of corn. [13:38-16:47]
- Milling malted barley flour: Collaboration with Deer Creek Malt House. [16:48-18:52]
- “Real food is good” – Mark and Fran’s philosophy on and inspiration behind producing and promoting good quality products aka “living food.” [18:53-24:20]
- Outro. [24:21-end]
Mill Tour Preview: