Suffolk Day shortbread baked from wheat bred, grown and milled in county

Thee generations of Suffolk bakers Kieron, Alexandra and Kenneth Palmer

Kieron, Alexandra and Kenneth Palmer baking the shortbread make from a new Suffolk wheat variety for Suffolk Day - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

A county-bred-and-grown wheat has been milled and made into shortbread using an ancient baker’s oven to celebrate Suffolk Day.

Father-and-son team Kenneth and Kieron Palmer of Palmer’s Bakery in Haughley — the fifth and sixth generation of a Suffolk baking dynasty — took flour made at Pakenham Mill from grain grown at Limagrain’s Woolpit trial site where it was bred. The seventh generation of the baking family, Alexandra Palmer, tested the finished product.

Alexandra Palmer tries out shortbread made from Astronomer wheat flour

Alexandra Palmer gets her teeth into the Suffolk Day shortbread - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Wheat breeders Limagrain developed the biscuit wheat — called LG Astronomer — at its technical site in Woolpit.

Tom Barker, cereals and pulses product manager at Limagrain UK, said they wanted to celebrate Suffolk Day by showing the key role the county plays in the production of commodities such as wheat.

Suffolk Day is celebrated at Palmer's Bakery in Haughley

Baker Kieron Palmer and Limagrain's Tom Barker with a bag of flour ready for baking Suffolk biscuits - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Tom took a bag of last year’s crop of Astronomer wheat — this year’s crop won’t be ready until the end of July or start of August — to picturesque Pakenham Water Mill, near Ixworth, on Friday, June 18, to be milled into wheat by head miller Peter Stobbart. Pakenham is one of the oldest surviving mills still working in England and thought to be the oldest working flour mill in Suffolk.

Peter Stobbart, John Wilkin and Mike Pay of Pakenham Water Mill

Peter Stobbart, John Wilkin and Mike Pay at Pakenham Water Mill, where the wheat is turned into flour - Credit: Tom Barker

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On Suffolk Day — June 21 — the milled flour was brought to celebrated family bakery Palmer’s so that it could be made into biscuits.

Wheat from Limagrain is turned into flour at Pakenham Water Mill

Wheat being made into flour at Pakenham Water Mill - Credit: Tom Barker

The new wheat breed is designed as a biscuit variety. Wheat breeders at the breeding centre create new varieties by crossing old ones and are looking to build in traits such as disease resistance and high yields.

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“The reason we like Astronomer is it’s got a really good package for farmers,” said Tom.

 "I was very pleased with how the process went. It`s great to be able to support local businesses especially ones that have part of the Suffolk fabric for such a long time. It's a wonderful way of showing the whole food chain from raw material to finished product. Feedback from the finished shortbread was excellent and more has been requested."

Limagrain is holding an open day for farmers near its wheat breeding centre at Woolpit on Wednesday, June 23.

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