Bristol’s Bicycle Mill Baking Mills Bicycle Flour | Food and Beverage Features | Seven days

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  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Freshly baked breads at Bicycle Mill Baking

A growing number of Vermont bakers are using locally grown, freshly ground flour. But, as far as she knows, Elizabeth Trostel is the only one in the state who uses the pedal to grind some of her grain.

Trostel, 38, has been a professional baker for about 15 years, but she had never done much cycling – until recently. “I have a bicycle,” she says. “I was on the pavement once.”

The New Hampshire native first moved to Vermont to attend the University of Vermont. She moved west for several years, then returned in 2016 with her girlfriend, who is now his wife.

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Elizabeth Trostel grinds the grain - MELISSA PASANEN

  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Elizabeth Trostel grinds the grain

In November 2021, Trostel started its small Cooking at the bike mill in a shared kitchen area at New Organic Leaves farm in Bristol. So far she has sold her small batches of bread, pastries, granola and some ready meals at New Leaf Farm on Bristol Road. Bicycle Mill Baking is also a new supplier this year to Richmond Farmers Market.

Trostel still works four days a week at Burlington August 1 bakery and café, of which she is the general manager. “I don’t sleep much,” she said.

At around 7 a.m. on a recent Friday morning, dark, crispy sourdough breads made with 40% freshly ground grains were hardening on a wire rack. The bread is named Walter after Trostel’s late father, a serious baking enthusiast whose sourdough starter she still uses. “It’s like keeping a little piece of him,” Trostel said.

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Milling grain by bike - MELISSA PASANEN

  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Milled grain by bike

For his father’s namesake bread, Trostel mills Nitty Gritty Grain wheat grown in Charlotte and Thornhill Farm Greensboro Bend rye. She supplements them with Nitty Gritty Grain flour.

Later that morning, she baked soft but hearty sandwich breads made from 50% freshly ground kamut, an ancient variety of wheat.

Freshly ground grain has several benefits, Trostel said. “The flavor of flour degrades quickly,” she explained, especially that of wholemeal flours, which contain more oils. Milling its own flour also allows Trostel to work with less common grains, such as kamut, which some people seem to tolerate better than modern strains of wheat.

Trostel first bought a hand-cranked mill, “but it was too hard,” she said. She could have bought a motor to run it, but instead opted for a kit that allowed her to power the bike mill. “I like to do everything for the long haul,” she laughed.

During downtime, while his dough rests, rises or bakes, Trostel hops on a standard road bike set up in a stationary trainer with the grinder attached to the rear wheel.

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Elizabeth Trostel at the New Leaf Organics Farm Stand - MELISSA PASANEN

  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Elizabeth Trostel at the New Leaf Organics farm stand

She pours a bowl of whole grains, called berries, into the cherry-red funnel at the top of the mill, adjusts the grinding wheels, climbs on them, and begins pedaling. But the sucker can’t accelerate with abandon, Trostel warned. “If you pedal too fast, the oil in the grain heats up and you lose flavor,” she said.

The bike factory may not prove very successful as Trostel expands its business, but it expects it to continue to play a role, including appearances at the Farmers Market.

“It’s a fun way to get other people interested in what interests me,” she said. “You could have loaves that were 100% community ground.”

Although Trostel doesn’t track her mileage, exercise is “good for me,” she added. It could also lead to another new venture, she joked: “One day I’ll invite you to my bike mill spinning studio.”

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