Cotehele is a gorgeous mansion in Cornwall just over the watery border that divides Devon and Corwall close to the South Coast. A stone’s throw, by rail, from Plymouth, this is truly a great day out. Take the train from Plymouth and, shortly after you leave Bere Alston station you cross the river on a spectacular bridge that is wonderful legacy of Victorian engineering. Hopping off at Calstock, you can explore the delightful village before setting off on the short walk that takes you to Cotehele.
Cotehele is a fabulous National Trust property. You really can spend a whole day there. The house is large but somehow liveable, the gardens are wonderful and there are plenty of fun things for adults and children alike. Once you have exhausted the house you can head to the quay for a little look around and a fabulous cream or cheese tea, and to the mill.
Restored not long ago, the mill is powered by water and operates most days of the week in the summer. They mill locally grown wheat into lovely stone ground whole meal flour and, if you are lucky, you will see milling demonstrations and be just in time to sample cakes as they come out of the oven. The whole of the mill yard has been given over to different kinds of workshops, and in the little gift shop you can buy freshly milled Cothele flour which, because it is stone milled, has huge health benefits over industrially milled flour (to read more about that, click here).
The flour is quite soft so don’t expect it to be super strong and stretchy as you knead and shape it and don’t expect it to rise a huge amount. It does have a lovely flavour – a bit nutty and malty – and the big bits of bran give it a great texture. I folded in thinly sliced celery – as there was plenty of leafy green in the garden in Cotehele to inspire me – and my current favourite – thinly sliced, raw onion. I then lined the rising basket with the celery leaves – taking inspiration from a Jersey recipe for cabbage bread – and the result was beautiful, terrific bread. Quite “cakey” in texture with a closed crumb, it was nevertheless quite light and had a crispy, thin crust which tasted ever so slightly like celery.
Click here for the recipe. Click here to find a national trust mill near you. Click here to find a wind or water assisted stone mill near you.