Flour is a primary ingredient in all artisan products and it is for this reason that extra care must be taken to ensure its highest quality. To understand why not all flours are created equal, a short explanation of the milling process is required.
Common white flour is milled from wheat kernels in a multistage process that successively refines the flour and removes all parts of the original kernel except for the endosperm which is refined (and sometimes even bleached) to obtain a fine, powdery white consistency.
You may see this process in action here. (Courtesy of "How It's Made")
The problem with this process is that the end product, finely ground endosperm, contains primarily starch. All the "goodness" in the wheat kernel, the bran (which provides fibre and aids our digestive system) and the wheat germ (which contains B-Complex vitamins, essential proteins and oils), is discarded. So-called "enriched" flour has some of the B vitamins artificially added again (after their removal), but the quantity, ratio and complexity of the artificially added vitamins cannot match the original natural wheat germ content.
The main reason that the wheat germ is discarded in industrial milled flour is that, if not refrigerated, it quickly goes rancid. This drastically reduces the shelf life of the flour. So shelf life is extended at the cost of removing the healthiest part of the wheat kernel. Ironically, most of the healthy components in the milling process are used for animal feed.
Whole wheat flour contains both the bran and the wheat germ, however industrial milled whole wheat flour contains mostly bran and almost no wheat germ, for the same reason above, that it reduces shelf life.
The only way to ensure that you obtain pure, healthy whole wheat flour is to mill it yourself, which is what we do at the S.A.B.I.
We freshly mill our own whole grain flour from organically grown grains for that day's batch to ensure maximum freshness of the germ and total preservation of the health giving vitamins, proteins and oils.
We advocate that all baked products should have freshly home-ground whole grains added in varying quantities, from 100% for the most health conscious to lower proportions for beginners, starting to dabble with whole grain baking.
Yeast is the next ingredient which is intensively focused on in artisan baking.
Instant, commercial yeast is a relatively recent invention (in the last 150 years). Before that, bakers for millenia baked their breads with natural wild yeast by preserving a small portion of that day's dough for the following days bread.
The main difference between commercial yeast and wild yeast is that commercial yeast is much more highly concentrated and causes fermentation to take place at a highly accelerated rate. Unfortunately this speed, while it may benefit production lines, comes at a cost - loss of flavour. Wild yeast takes longer to ferment (usually overnight) but during this lengthy fermentation process, it develops a complexity of aroma and flavour that is absent in commercially yeasted breads.
We have has gone to great lengths to obtain rare and supreme quality wild yeasts from around the world to ferment our bread. Each wild yeast imparts a distinctive flavour to the breads and for this reason we use the appropriate ethnic wild yeast for the type of bread indigenous to that region.
For example, we bake our Saidels Sourdough loaf using the original (and extremely hard to obtain) San Francisco sourdough yeast culture, our Eastern European breads (rye, pumpernickel) use a culture obtained from Austria, our Italian breads (focaccia, ciabatta) are baked with a culture from Ischia Island in the bay of Naples and our French breads (baguette, fougasse) are made with a wild yeast obtained from a centuries old Parisian bakery.
Another important advantage of using natural wild yeast is that the breads keep fresh longer due to the presence of a natural preservative created during the lengthy fermentation process.
The S.A.B.I uses no artificial chemical additives of any kind (colorings, preservatives, oxidizers, emulsifiers etc.) that are commonly used in production line bakeries to try make up for the deficiencies induced in their breads caused by sacrificing the proper time required in preparation of each loaf in favour of increased yields.
Aside from our special flour and yeast, all our other ingredients are natural, and where possible - organically grown.
Finally and most importantly, the S.A.B.I is Kosher LeMehadrin, Pareve and under the supervision of the Karnei Shomron Rabbinate.