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Mayflower Mills

“ The Mayflower Mill comes next in order; it is owned by Jesse Hoyt and operated by John Bradfield, and is capable of turning out 150 barrels of flour per day. This mill is pronounced by competent judges to be the best constructed and arranged flouring mill in the United States, it being designed, in every part, for a first-class establishment without regard of expense. History of the Saginaw Valley, Truman B. Fox, Esq., 1858.

The story behind this week’s recipe is a little different than most of our Sunday features. It explores the history of one this region’s early flour mills and wheat flour is one of the key ingredients in this week’s recipe. So, first, the bread recipe...

Crusty Bread


2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (9 grams)

1 teaspoon sugar (4 grams) (use honey if you prefer)

1 1/4 cups warm water (300 grams)

1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) kosher salt

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (400 grams) plus extra for dusting



  1. Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large mixing bowl (you can also use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).

  2. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.

  3. Add flour to bowl. Mix with a sturdy spatula until the dough starts to come together, then add salt and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. For best results, mix until no dry bits of flour remain. Note: This is a relatively slack (wet) dough, so it may seem a bit shaggy and sticky at this point. Don't worry - it will become more smooth and elastic as we go!

  4. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and let rise on the counter for about 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.


  1. When dough has risen, lightly flour a large cutting board.

  2. Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the cutting board. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN - you want to keep all those nice air bubbles intact so you have an airy, delicious loaf of bread. (Note: If the dough is sticking to the bowl a little bit, wet your hand with a bit of cold water and gently separate the dough from the bowl to get it all out).

  3. Shape the dough into a round loaf: Pull each corner of the dough in towards the center (like you're folding an envelope) and repeat until the dough feels tight and begins to resist your folds. Flip the dough over and pull it into a round loaf. Watch the video(s) above to see exactly how we do this!

  4. Flour a proofing basket or a medium bowl and place your loaf into it seam-side down. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes or so while you preheat the oven. Note: I like to line my proofing basket or mixing bowl with a clean linen napkin to distribute the flour more evenly and help with cleanup.


  1. While bread is rising, place an empty Dutch oven (with the lid on) in your oven and heat to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.


  1. When the oven is hot, you're ready to go! Use oven mitts to pull the Dutch oven out and remove the lid.

  2. Lay a piece of parchment paper down on your counter or cutting board (optional - it makes transferring the bread easier!)

  3. Tip your bread dough gently out of the proofing basket onto the parchment paper. Make sure the seam side is up this time - this is what will create those beautiful cracks on top of the bread.

  4. VERY CAREFULLY (without burning yourself!) use the sides of the parchment to lift the bread up and place it into the hot Dutch oven.

  5. Put your oven mitts back on, place the Dutch oven lid back on the pot, and slide the whole thing back into your hot oven.

  6. Cook bread for 30 minutes.

  7. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from your Dutch oven. The bread should be taller, crusty, and very lightly browned. Continue cooking the bread, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes more until the bread has deepened in color and you have a beautiful brown crust.

  8. When bread is done, use oven mitts to pull the pot out of your oven.

  9. Use a long spatula or the corners of your parchment paper to lift the bread out of the Dutch oven and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.


History of the Mayflour Mills

Well into the twentieth century, the eastern bank of the river north of the Johnson Street bridge in downtown Saginaw was dominated by the Mayflower Mills buildings. The main portion of the complex was a massive, windowless, brick structure, it had a complex history.

The early history of the Mayflower Mills is recounted in J.W. Leonard’s The Industries of the Saginaws; historical, descriptive and statistical published in 1887.

“Mayflower Mills – Emil Moores, Manager; Roller Flour Manufacturers; 424 South Water Street, East Saginaw. – This is one of the oldest mill concerns in Michigan, the first Mayflower Mills having been erected in 1851, a year after the city of East Saginaw was laid out. They were built by the late Jesse Hoyt, of New York city, and continued in operation until destroyed by fire in 1860, when a new and larger mill was built on the same site by Mr. Hoyt. In 1866 Mr. Emil Moores was admitted to the firm, and in the same year the mills considerably enlarged. Since that time Mr. Moores has been the manager of the business, which after his advent to the firm increased so largely that the facilities of the mill became too contracted for the efficient prosecution of business and in 1882 a complete roller mill of 500 barrels daily capacity was put up on the order of Mr. Moores by the John T. Noyes Manufacturing Company of Buffalo. In their present condition these mills are now the largest mill establishments in Michigan and consist of large buildings, including an elevator with a storage capacity of 85,000 bushels of wheat, and a warehouse used for storing bran and fire feed, with a capacity of 45,000 bushels, the old Mayflower Mills, now used for packing and storing flour and offal, with a capacity of the storage of 5,000 barrels of flour and tons of offal; and engine, with high and low pressure cylinders, fed by two steel tubular boilers 16 feet long and 66 inches in diameter, while the main building, the new Mayflower mills, is four-story and basement structure, 50 x 80 feet in dimensions. In addition to a full roller process for the manufacture of flour, the mills are equipped with a roller process plant for the manufacture of high quality of meal. All the cooperage for the mills is made on the premises and employment is given to a force of twenty hands in the mill and ten in cooperage department. The Mayflower Patent and Mayflower Roller flour has a just celebrity for its superiority, being made from Michigan amber and white wheat and the meal made in these mills is also equally popular. The business has largely increased under the practical and experienced management of Mr. Moores, to whose reliable business methods, combined with the merit of the product of the mills, is due the prosperous business enjoyed by this establishment.”

By the early 1890s Mayflower Mills was no longer operating. In the first years if the twentieth century, part the complex was used by Oakland Vinegar and Pickle Company and other portions were used as plant by the Henning Sausage company. During the Great Depression, the complex was vacant. Eventually it was purchased by the Wickes Corporation and used for warehouse space. In the 1960s, part of the site was razed for the construction of I-675 and in 1972 the remainder was demolished.


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