Volume II, No. 3, Spring 1975


by Suzanne Carr

The decline of business at the water mills came with the invention and wide use of the automobile which gave easier access to markets to purchase flour and bread, and the importation of bleached, hard wheat flour made from wheat grown on the western plains.

Most people preferred this new type of flour for baking to the off-white, soft wheat flour traditionally produced at water mills throughout the Ozarks. It was nicer to make breads out of the store-bought hard wheat flour because they would rise better and had a lighter texture. Also the whiter color of the flour made the product more desirable than the duller unbleached flour from the mills.

In comparison with the earlier stone ground whole wheat flour, both the Ozark and imported white flours had a definite nutritional loss. Whole wheat flour ground on stone burrs consisted of the whole wheat kernel. White patent flour consisted only of the endosperm, having most of the bran and germ removed. However, the white flour ground in water mills, not being quite so refined and not going through the bleaching process, probably retained more nutrients than the imported flour.

The wheat kernel is made up of three main parts. The endosperm cells, which account for 85% of the total kernel, is the part that is used in white flour. It consists largely of starch, protein and cellulose oil walls with some sugar. The other two parts are the bran, or outer coat, and the embryo, or wheat germ. These two parts contain most of the vitamin and mineral content of the grain. (see diagram below)

The removal of the bran and the wheat germ from the embryo, the heat action of the rollers in grinding the flour and the bleaching process all cause the loss of many nutrients in white patent flour. Because of this loss the government has instituted regulations to enrich the flour partially back to the wheat's original state. But even the enriched flour does not have as much food value as whole wheat.

There are a few mills that still grind meal and flour on stone burrs.

Some of the mills that sell corn meal are Alley Spring Mill, Dawt Mill and Hodgson Mill. Hodgson's Mill produces commercially both stone ground corn meal and stone ground unbleached white and whole wheat flour. Hodgson's products are available in many stores in the area.

The following recipes call for the old-fashioned ground meal and flour. The ladies who have shared their recipes with me used to prepare these foods regularly when this type of flour or meal was the only kind they had to use. They had little need to measure as they knew from experience just how much flour or liquid to use. On some of the recipes I have attempted to estimate the amounts.

CONSTITUENTS OF FLOUR *(100 grams of edible portion)

Flour Cal. Prot. Fat Ash Total 
Ca. Phos. Fe. B1 B2 Niacin
White patent 355 10.8 0.9 0.4 75.9 0.3 19 93 0.7 .07 .03 0.8
White patent enriched 355 10.8 0.9 0.4 75.9 0.3 19 93 2.9 .44 .26 3.5
Whole wheat 360 13.0 2.0 1.6 72.4 0.9 38 385 3.8 .56 .12 5.6

Nutritional Data- by Harold Wooster, Jr. and Fred Blank. H.J. Heinz Co., 1950.


I have gathered recipes using the whole wheat flour which I think you will enjoy. I'm sure this will cause many of you to remember those good, old-time breads that you used to have. I might make mention that there is no need to sift this type of flour.


(The next 3 recipes by Lois Roper Beard)

1 cup whole wheat flour (old-timers called this graham flour)
1 cup soft wheat white flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs. molasses
2 Tbs. brown sugar
4 Tbs. melted shortening

Mix all together. Bake in greased muffin tins, 15 minutes in a moderate oven (4000).

Variation--You can add blueberries, nuts, huckleberries or other fruits to add a special taste.


1 1/4 cup shortening
2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 egg
1 Tbs. vinegar
5 Tbs. water
1 tsp. salt

Crumble shortening and flours together to a meal consistency. Beat the remaining ingredients together. Then add this to the first mixture. Mix lightly and roll on a floured board for pie.


2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup brown sugar or
2 Tbs. brown sugar,
1 Tbs. molasses, and
1 Tbs. honey
1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
1 egg

Stir sugar in water. Add yeast and let rise. Combine shortening, brown sugar, molasses and honey, salt and scalded milk. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour. When luke warm, add yeast and beat hard till smooth. Cover and let rise about 1/2 hour. Mix the remaining whole wheat flour with the unbleached flour and add enough to make a stiff dough. Knead in enough flour to make smooth and satiny. Let dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled. Knead lightly. Make into rolls or a loaf and let rise again.
Bake in 325° oven 15 minutes, then 45 minutes at 350°

Ruth Massey's breads prove Ozark cooks continue their tradition of fine baking.



by Cora HoughThis breakfast food is made with home ground wheat flour. It requires:

3 1/2 cups home ground whole wheat flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup honey or syrup
buttermilk or sour milk to moisten.

Mix all together and bake in a moderate oven like a cake. When done, cool and crumble. If not dry enough, put in oven to crispen. Serve with hot rich cream.
These recipes call for soft wheat white patent flour produced at local water mills.

OLD OZARKS BREAD RECIPE (with everlasting yeast) by Jessie Peterson

To the yeast starter, add 1 1/2 cups of luke warm water in a large milk crock or mixing bowl. Add sifted white flour to make a batter a little thicker than for pancakes. Cover and let stand over night. The cover must be very tight in gnat season.
In the morning take out about 1/2 cup of the new starter. Add 1 Tbs. of sugar, or more if you take out a larger starter. Put this in a jar with a lid and keep in a cool place. This will keep two to three weeks if a Tbs. of sugar is added from time to time.
Add to the remaining batter, 3 tsp. sugar (for dark bread use molasses and brown sugar), 1 Tbs. salt, 1 cup of milk or lukewarm water, 1/2 cup fat melted and cooled. Add sifted flour to make a stiff dough. Knead and let rise in greased crock until double in bulk.
Form into loaves and let rise in a warm place until double. Bake in hot oven (400°) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat and finish at 350° for 30 additional minutes Variation--This recipe can be made of half white and half whole wheat flour.

It really takes experience to bake with everlasting yeast. Keeping the yeast alive in pioneer days was a must. It was also difficult to keep without refrigeration unless used at least twice each week. But with a large family this was no problem. If however, something happened to keep one from using it regularly, a neighbor was always willing to share.


(The next 2 recipes by Marie Smith)

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. shortening

Many women traditionally used their flour container, which was usually a large bowl or a pan approximately 12 to 18 inches across and 6 to 8 inches deep, to mix their biscuits in. First, form a small hole in the flour. Put the above ingredients in it. With your hand, work flour into other ingredients until dough is just stiff enough to break off into small balls. It usually will take 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour to get the right consistency. Place pinched off balls of dough in rows in a greased pan and bake at 500° for fifteen minutes or until brown.


Dissolve 1 package yeast in 1 3/4 cups warm water. Add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted shortening, 2 tsp. salt, and flour enough to make dough stiff (about 4 to 5 cups). Knead until satiny. Leave this in a mixing bowl and let rise for 2 hours. Place on floured board and mold into a ball. Then break off into small balls and place in a greased pan and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Bake in a 375° oven until brown.


The following recipes using corn meal are by Cora Hough. She said, "These are all made from our water mills long ago. I was born in 1900 so I remember helping shell our corn and going to the mill with wagon and team."


Take boiling water [about 1 qt.] with salt, stir in your meal [1 1/2 cups] until it gets thick like you want it [about like cream of wheat]. Serve in sweet milk, or slice and fry until brown. Or use your mush like breakfast food with cream and sugar. Just guess how much you want as to how many would like it.


1 qt. corn meal
1 pt. cracklings
3 tsp. salt
Boiling water

Mix the corn meal and salt. Pour over this mixture enough boiling water to moisten, but not enough to make a. mush. When meal has cooled, work the cracklings into it with your fingers. Form the dough into cakes about 4 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Bake at 450° around 30 minutes and serve while very hot.


Sift all corn meal to take out bran. Make the amount according to your pan [about 2 cups for 8x8x2 inch pan].

salt [1/2 tsp.]
soda [1 tsp.]
egg [1]
buttermilk [about 1 cup or until a firm, but pourable consistancy]
a little shortening if you like [3 Tbs., melted]

Mix all together. Bake in a warm oven (375°) till brown. Serve while hot. [Serves 6]

Alley Spring Mill originally built in 1890 still grinds corn meal on stone burrs. Old photo courtesy of Swiney Rayfield.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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