Summer 2013 at Bread and Roses
Summer 2013 at Bread and Roses
It’s been busy here in Powburn, but there has been time for holidays too. Bakery projects remain live, with much continued interest in the portfolio of artisan breads. It is just a matter of continuing to believe, and to drive it all forward as best as I can possibly manage.
After Franko’s visit in June there were the following baking events. In the last week of June I baked for the Alnwick Farmers’ Market. Moving into early July, I had a reasonably small bread order to fill for Nigel who was up in the region doing a catering job for a group of walkers on St. Cuthbert’s Way. After a few days of business meetings, and hard work to complete the year-end accounts and bring all the bookwork up-to-date, I then had a hectic week of baking prior to going away for a week’s holiday.
Hexham Farmers’ Market was on 13th June, and I had 2 one-day bread courses on 15th and 18th June. In between the two, on Tuesday 16th July, Nigel came up and we put in a full day of hard graft to upgrade the brick oven on my patio. We rebuilt the chimney with proper old firebricks, and sturdier mortar, including refractory cement for the lowest portion of the chimney which gets all the heat. We also built the shell of the oven up a further 3 courses of bricks and added considerably more insulation to improve retention of top heat. After that we added a very quaint slate roof. It now looks like this:
Overall, this project has already proved to be a major success and I anticipate it saving a lot of money in fuel costs as the oven has already proved it will now hold a lot more heat than before.
I am working on the business with a very old friend who I actually shared a house with back in the late 1980s when still a student, and then setting up the Red Herring business. He lives very close by now, and has numerous areas of business expertise to share, as well as belief in the products made by Bread and Roses. We had an appointment at Cragside House on the Friday to discuss taking a stall to sell bread during a Cheese Week which is being promoted there later in September. My favourite artisan cheese from the North of England is made by Doddingtons, just a few miles north of where we live. Unpasteurised Organic milk, produced on the family dairy farm, is used to make a range of the most amazing cheese. I am so looking forward to being at this event alongside such a producer whom I actually have real respect for. There aren’t too many of these, alas.
Well, after that it was holiday time. Alison’s sister, Mandy, plus her husband Andy, and their boy Lewis, are over from New Zealand at the moment on holiday. Long in the planning, 9 of us rented the Old Free Church Manse on the island of Raasay for a week; a short ferry trip over from the most fabulous Isle of Skye. Alison’s son Daniel, plus her other sister Beverley, her partner Malcolm, and their daughter Eve, made up the remaining numbers in the group.
The weather was fantastic, as it usually seems to be when Alison and I trundle up to the Highlands of Scotland. It was a bit humid on occasions, so the midges were in evidence, but it was sunny, and we all had a great week, with plenty of activities, and enjoying sharing lovely food mainly prepared on a huge Aga cooker. Yes, I did bake bread; some lovely and large Gilchesters’ Miches.
In the week following the return from Raasay, I ran another bread course from home, again in beautiful sunshine. Some photographs here from that day:
Gilchesters' Miche, above
Saturday 3rd August was the annual Powburn Show. This is my 3rd appearance at the Show. I spent some time deciding how to produce for this year’s event. I settled on using Nigel’s oven which he kindly offered me use of. However, Nigel was away on holiday, and his house is close to 80km away from Powburn, so the logistics were tricky. I went down to Nigel’s on the Wednesday afternoon and fired up his oven. I stayed over both Wednesday and Thursday nights. This gave me 2 days of solid production, and I was assisted by an ex-student and sometime baking colleague on both days. Thank you to http://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/sandydog for your very hard work; very much appreciated.
We made lots of rye breads on the first day: Moscow Rye; Black Pumpernickel and Borodinsky are all established Bread and Roses’ favourites, and are all 100% rye loaves. I added in a couple of alternatives using Hamelman’s Three-Stage Detmolder process to produce a 90% Rye and a 70% Rye.
The following day we baked a lot of wheat leaven based bread. Output consisted of 21kg Gilchesters’ Farmhouse miche dough; 10kg white levain; 8.4kg each of Dinkel [Spelt], Five Grain and Seeded Sourdough, together with 5kg of Toasted Brazil Nut & Prune [now featuring as a leaven bread, rather than using the Biga]. We made some Ciabattas and Focaccia slices, and some Croissants and Pains au Chocolat. Photographs of products shown below:
The day of the Show started with a threatening shower or two, and a wind blew up too. However, the sun then came out and lots of people came to visit. By 15:30 just a handful of the 100 plus loaves remained. I ran the stall alone largely this year. Alison had been asked to act as a roving reporter at the event as she was contributing an article to our local magazine Cheviot Views, offering her account of the day’s events. She still managed to drop by and give me some cover from time to time so I could grab a bite to eat and take a couple of essential breaks. There are a few photographs below of the Bread and Roses stall this year:
You can see more photographs on flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24731237@N03/
So we both need another holiday. Alison is desperate to grab some Mediterranean heat before she has to go back to work in a few week’s time. We fly to Malaga early tomorrow morning. I have 5 night’s away, and Alison has the full week. Given my baking commitments, I am surprised I could get away at all, but am all too aware how much I will appreciate the break. We are staying in the hills just to the North East of Malaga, near the walled town of Comares. This is quite a good representation from Google images: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://p1.pkcdn.com/comares-malaga_34464.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.photaki.es/foto-comares-malaga_34464.htm&h=489&w=626&sz=124&tbnid=vHS-0H5gLkFThM:&tbnh=97&tbnw=124&zoom=1&usg=__qd9LhAmxCYZmml0-kqxDFG4z8PY=&docid=zia2lwY0LXhS_M&sa=X&ei=yUACUoLwDcyS0QWa6oHoDA&sqi=2&ved=0CDUQ9QEwAg&dur=3140
I want to read, lounge in the sun and chill out; nothing more. Maybe a meal out in the evening some time, and relaxing with a drink as the sun goes down. Just some fine quality time with my wife!
When I get back, I have to bake for the Whittingham Show on 18th August. This will be a smaller version of the Powburn Show, and is 2 villages away, just a few km. The next Hexham Farmers’ Market is on the following Saturday, and Alnwick Farmers’ Market is the Friday after that.
September is already shaping up to be very busy. I have an enriched bread course on Saturday 8th September. The following Saturday, Nigel is trading at Hexham and I am at Ingram Show [again a village just a few km from Powburn]. This means double production at Nigel’s house on Friday 13th September. After that there is Alnwick Food Festival. I will be giving a demonstration again, working alongside my colleague Ann, from http://www.doughworks.co.uk/. That means 3 days of trading in addition to the demonstration. Cragside Cheese Week falls in the week after Alnwick Food Festival, and Hexham Farmers’ Market completes the month of baking. We have applied for a spot at Newcastle Farmers’ Market again. If we are successful then these begin early October, and take place monthly thereafter!
So, it’s all go here. More than ever, I need a bakery! Vision board and business activity focus on this as priority Uno.
Take care all; happy baking!