Photography & text: © Anna Rubingh
Publication NL Spring 2021
In the small village of Wytmarsum in the northern Frisian countryside of the Netherlands, Christa (30) is grinding grain in an old Dutch 1850’s windmill. The flour she then processes into delicious, artisan sourdough breads, cakes and biscuits in the small bakery she set up next to the old windmill. Intrigued by the craft of milling, Christa decided after her first visit of the old windmill she wanted to become a miller herself.
"It’s something completely different from what I studied initially, but it’s that craftmanship, working with my hands, that appealed to me so very much,” Christa explains. “I slowly got into the miller’s craft,” she continues. “One day I visited this exact windmill which is situated close to the village I grew up in and I was fascinated, and one thing led to another, I even dreamt about the mill that first night after my visit, that was something really special, it felt like I was destined to do something with that mill and it’s craft.”
She started learning the craft of milling from the old miller working at the Wytmarsum mill at the time, they got along and soon the old miller knew he found in Christa that one person to continue his life’s work.
“What I do differently from the old generation? Not that much really, milling is an old, traditional craft you learn from generation to generation. You must learn to work with the wind and the elements of nature, and you can only learn from experienced craftsmen,” Christa explains. “But what is different from the old generation is that I have set up my own bakery. I wanted to make the complete product, from grain to bread, isn’t that the most wonderful thing you can do?" "And maybe the fact that I am a woman,” she adds, “that’s probably different and that’s why I’ve called my company “Mevrouw de Molenaar” which means Mrs Miller in Dutch.”
Christa turned the old mill into a fully working enterprise again. “The name of this mill is “De Onderneming” which means The Enterprise and that is exactly what it is again today.” Christa is proud of her work as a miller and baker. People come from far to buy her artisan bread made to order every week.
The grain Christa grinds for her bread she buys from local farmers. "That way you keep the product truly local and artisanal" she explains. In addition to various artisan breads, she bakes delicious cakes and biscuits such as real Frisian orange cake, a local original, a spicy cake filled with almond paste and covered with a layer of pink icing and whipped cream, or crispy Frisian dúmkes, a Frisian biscuit spiced with with aniseed to accompany coffee. And Dutch apple pie of course, you can not have a Dutch bakery without Dutch apple pie. “I’ll give you our recipe for our spiced apple cake, that’s really good and a favorite with our customers,” Christa says, “and it’s easy to make at home,” she adds.