Exploring heirloom grains at Abby Jane Bakeshop and Barton Springs Mill

The business partners on Fitzhugh Road are dedicated to one thing: promoting the health and tastiness of ancient, heirloom grains.

A hand holding flours over a bucket.

Barton Springs Mill specializes in stone-ground, heirloom grain flours.

Photo by ATXtoday

When you walk into Abby Jane Bakeshop, you can see the baking process in its full life cycle.

To the right, a large glass window offers a view into Barton Springs Mill, where heirloom grains are ground into organic flours. Straight ahead, shelves are laden with bags of flour, cornmeal, and other ingredients. To the left, you see — and smell — fresh pastries, breads, and pizzas made from the mill’s selections.

The shop and mill are barely in their second year of operation, but have already become a go-to stop on Fitzhugh Road for delicious bites, instructional classes, and unique approach to flour production.

“Our mission is to show people that they can in fact participate in a responsible local agriculture economy,” said bakeshop owner Abby Love, “and it still tastes good.”

A knock on the door

Although the bakeshop and flour mill are separate businesses, their partnership is intertwined throughout their histories.

It started, as Abby tells it, with mill owner James Brown driving around to drum up some interest in heirloom flours. A few years after driving around to seek out farmers who would grow organic, ancient grains in Texas, James knocked on the door of Dai Due, where Abby was working to build a bread program at the time.

The two of them built a rapport, and when he approached Abby — who started baking while in grad school ~15 years ago and never stopped — about leading the bakeshop next to the flour mill, she said yes in a heartbeat.

Two wooden mills side by side at Barton Springs Mill.

Barton Springs Mill uses stone mills to grind its heirloom grains into flour.

Photo by ATXtoday

Simple, specific, heritage

The unique approach of Barton Springs Mill begins with the grains themselves. “We’re selecting wheats that are simpler genetically, we’re choosing older grains,” Abby said.

The mill produces dozens of products made from a variety of grains — including Texas-grown Purple Straw, Marquis, and Tam 105 — customized based on what you need the flour for.

Baking some bagels? You might want to go with some Butler’s Gold. Feeling pancakes today? Try Blonde Einkorn. (Psst — Explore Barton Springs Mill’s Wheat Cheat Sheet online here.)

Barton Springs Mill uses a stone mill, which involves grinding the grains between two large, flat stones. This method means the nutrition and the flavor of the grains stays in the flour, Abby said.

A few decades ago, the idea of buying specialty flours might have seemed far-fetched, but Abby thinks a growing number of people are interested in how they can make their food more sustainable and healthier.

“More and more people are caring about A, what they’re putting in their bodies, and B, the traceability of what they’re putting in their bodies.”

Close-up of a pizza with ham, peaches, and cheese.

We highly recommend trying a pizza when you visit Abby Jane Bakeshop.

Photo by ATXtoday

Try it yourself

Order Barton Mills Flour online, or stop by Abby Jane Bakeshop to buy it in person.

We recommend getting a pizza or pastry when you stop by, or trying out one of the instructional classes on cooking things like tortillas, arepas, or focaccia.

See the full schedule and sign up online here.

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