September 06, 2023 5 min read

We've enjoyed a full year of cooking classes in Austin, TX held in the BSM Education Center, and we’ve greatly enjoyed expanding the culinary experiences available to our guests. Since the summer of 2022, it has been our mission to make fresh, stone-ground flour and responsibly-sourced organic grains approachable for every skill level from beginner to professional, and to provide a grounded and contextualized understanding for what makes our product exceptional. 

Check out our upcoming classes now!

For anybody familiar with the mill’s history, you’ll know that our first love is sourdough. James Brown, owner and proprietor, went down the sourdough rabbit hole as a baker and came out the other side in 2016 as an organic miller. Without early believers who were building farm-to-table bakeries and fine dining eateries in Austin TX, BSM would not have made the leap from dream concept to the fully-realized milling and granary facility it is today. Many of these early believers are now loyal wholesale clients who are, quite literally, the bread and butter of our organization.

Where to Taste Barton Springs Mill products in the wild (hint - you're probably already haunting these top-notch eateries)

Over the years, we have been lucky to be able to taste our grains in an ever-growing variety of cottage business and fine dining settings - pizza, pasta, pastry, bread and masa made with BSM products now grace tables all over Texas. The Education Center has followed suit, offering Austin natives and travelers the chance to broaden their horizons and learn new skills and applications for responsibly-sourced organic grain. Since the early summer of 2022, we have offered classes showcasing Ukrainian, Venezuelan, Armenian, Mexican, French, Vietnamese, and German culinary techniques and recipes, to name a few. In addition to bread-making classes, we have shown our guests how to butcher, how to nixtamalize, and how to make cultured butter. We have partnered with local Dripping Springs and Austin makers to showcase the bounty of the Texas Hill country through cheese tastings, wine pairings, and wood-fired pizza nights. 

BSM Staff does a cook with the Texas Gozney team, experimenting with James' pizza dough and flatbread recipe using Butler's Gold '00'. Education Director Kimberly catches a wild hair and sears some local lamb chops, chars some alliums for a salsa verde, and whips up a tzatziki of sorts to serve with our flatbreads. 

As we’ve invited more guests through our doors, we have also been able to make some dream classes and collaborations reality. Take the Butcher + Baker class, taught by dynamic duo Abby Love (Abby Jane Bakeshop) and Julia Poplawsky Lewis (Cielito Lindo Farm). Prior to starting their own businesses, Abby and Julia worked together at Dai Due as pastry chef and butcher/meat expert respectively. They’d always dreamt of being able to teach a class together, and in spring of this year it became a reality. Abby and Julia are both incredibly generous in sharing their expertise with our guests, and the Butcher + Baker class showcases how the marriage of ingredient-centric crafts can create truly delicious food. 

On a personal note for the mill, we were finally able to put our Molinito to use this summer in our premier Nixtamal 101 class. Together, Julian Maltby (Mercado Sin Nombre) and Art Orozco (savory chef at Abby Jane Bakeshop) showed our students the art of nixtamalizing our whole heirloom corns and crafting the perfect tortilla. This class has been a long time coming at the mill, as it highlights the often-overlooked rainbow of organic corn we source, as well as educates our guests about the underrepresented and surprisingly little-known craft of nixtamalization.

For our relatively bread and wheat-centric community, the alchemy of sourdough is well-known and loved, but the equally ancient and important technique of nixtamalization, which turns relatively indigestible field corn into nutritionally-dense, bioavailable masa (corn dough) through chemical, cooking and milling processes is puzzlingly less popular. We wanted to show our cooking class guests how to harness the power of nixtamalization at home, and through the process give them a sense of history and respect for a culinary technique that’s largely responsible for making corn the king it is today. To put it lightly, the class was a huge success and students had a great time experimenting with corn-milling methods from ancient to modern, and slapping their tortillas on the plancha waiting for the perfect puff. This workshop will have a permanent place on our culinary class roster, so stay tuned for upcoming dates.

Overhead shot of a blue and white porcelain bowl, filled with multicolored jewels of corn.

Guests of our Nixtamal 101 class were able to experiment with our blue (pictured right), green (pictured left), and yellow varieties of field corn, and took these beautiful gems from kernel to tortilla. 
Julian Maltby (left) shows students how to use a counter steel mill at home to process nixtamalized corn kernels into masa. Art Orozco (right) processes yellow corn in Masienda's Molinito 1.0

Art guides a student through grinding corn on his old-school metate.



Guests take their freshly milled and pressed tortillas to the plancha, then assemble tacos with carnitas (confit pork), roasted & pickled vegetables, raspberry-guajillo salsa roja, and guacamole. 

Each of our culinary classes is taught by an expert who, above all else, respects the power of high-quality ingredients. The common thread throughout each of our classes is a commitment to building a recipe and process that fits the ingredients, not the other way around. Stone-ground, organic flour and heritage grains in particular have a way of teaching people to pay attention to the process - as a fresh product unlike mass-produced, roller-milled flour, stone-milled grains ask for more hydration, for longer resting periods, and observant mixing. Under the guidance of instructors, our cooking class guests have learned that when you pay attention to these requests, you get deeper, more complex flavors, performance that outpaces mass-produced flour and grains, and in many cases, a much happier stomach. 

We are so thankful for the collaborating instructors who have helped to make our Education Center the expert resource in the Austin, TX area for learning how to use responsibly-sourced, identity-preserved grains and flours. We’re proud to be one of the only stone-milling facilities to house its own education program, where guests are invited to see each part of our process from grain to plate. We are committed to continuing to showcase the diversity of regional culinary traditions that are practiced in homes and kitchens across the state and country. Our single-varietal flours serve as proof that grain is not the monolith that industrialization and monocrop agriculture would have us believe, and we hope you’ll take a culinary class with us in the Education Center to learn more about how stone-ground flour is making a difference for ingredient and process-driven cooking. 

Check out our upcoming classes now!