5 June 2022 Corn Tales

Good afternoon everyone,

Today, a Hamblin exclusive. Many of you may have seen the strikingly beautiful ears of heritage corn hanging from the lights in the bakery window. Corn of this kind is not commonly grown in the U.K. and these ears are in fact the result of 8 years of work by the usual suspect, Mr John Letts. On a mission to grow a multi-purpose corn suitable for fine and coarse milling as well as distilling, John collected samples from gene banks, from Japan to Canada to Peru. Once grown, he painstakingly selected kernels for two properties; those which fell into the category of 'flint corn', which is hard and slightly translucent and also ripened early, crucial for thriving in the British climate. Several years of bulking up, i.e. growing in order to replant and gain a higher yield for future harvests, a few setbacks due to weather and deer, and here we are with a hundred kilos of Cotswold-grown heritage corn to play around with, and lots more ripening as we speak. We might just be the only bakery in the U.K. to be able to say this. 

Many moons ago Kate spent a month living in a camper van at the foot of the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina, spending time at a wood-fired bakery called Farm and Sparrow. It remains a formative experience. Grits, coarsely milled corn cooked into a porridge, are a staple part of the local diet and the bakery produced a loaf which incorporated them into a wheat dough. Once tried, never forgotten. Now, thanks to John, we have our own grits and so we begin the journey this coming week with corn heritage rolls. We also have some finely ground cornmeal, and will be using this in place of wheat flour in our brown butter and almonds cakes for the foreseeable. Lastly, Ice Cream Sandwich Housekeeping; this coming week sees the return of the house favourite, backyard mint and chocolate. 

Very best wishes,

Kate and Hugo