The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread and Roses in January 2013

ananda's picture
ananda

Bread and Roses in January 2013

Bread and Roses in January 2013

 

A Happy New Year to all here at the Fresh Loaf.   I last posted on my blog just after the December Alnwick Farmers’ Market, with some photographs taken on a very wet and gloomy morning.   The January Market is just a few days away, meaning that the first month of 2013 is really flying by.   I thought I would put up a post telling of what has been going on in the “Bread and Roses” world post Christmas.

 

I had been planning for a return to Leeds for the new term for some teaching work.   Unfortunately, that seems to have fallen through.   Around Christmas time Alison and I were really feeling the effects of life in Recession-hit Britain, so this was a big worry.    The worries soon eased as I was approached by Dunbar Bakery for more consultancy work.   This was very easy to arrange and I am currently sitting at Berwick Rail Station writing this post, waiting for a connecting train to take me to Dunbar ready for a nightshift of bread production, starting at 22:00.

 

Maybe I should say something about Dunbar Bakery?   I first visited back in February last year.   The business is a Community-owned Co-operative, established to fight the problem of a dying High Street in the town.   The Committee which oversees the business has many noble ideas, one of which is to provide real bread.   The first Bakery Manager employed was incapable of making this as he had an unhealthy regard for the Improver bag.   The replacement Bakery Manager came along in March, soon after I began work to introduce a range of breads using Sponge and Dough and Natural Leavens only.   He is the winner of the Patissier of the Year in Scotland; a rising star indeed.   By the end of the Summer, the business had been utterly transformed, and the baking team were all producing lovely bread, beautiful patisserie and the business was back on track.

 

There has, understandably been significant interest in the business model used by the Bakery, especially in the context of the many struggling High Street shops up and down the UK right now.   But the ambitions have just kept the business moving forward, with Ross [Bakery Manager] taking a lead by entering the business to compete in the ITV television series “Britain’s Best Bakery”, screened just before Christmas.   The Bakery ended up as finalists, and I’m still not sure how they managed to avoid being named winners, as their appearance in the final showcased some awesome breads and top market sales, plus the most amazing wedding cake you can imagine….TOP stuff from Ross.   You can find out more about the Bakery at Dunbar here: http://thebakerydunbar.co.uk/

 

And here is a slideshow of photographs from my production shift last Wednesday night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOx2gPp9orA   

I am working 4 nightshifts on bread production, plus other work to cover staff training and looking to run some bread courses for the public too.   I am here until at least the end of March.   After that Alison and I have a fortnight’s holiday over the Easter vacation, and we are staying at the lovely Anatolika in Crete….the lovely Beach House with the wood-fired oven for me to bake bread on once more.   I posted on our summer holiday here in this blog post: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19167/anotolika-beach-house     When we return I will either do more work at Dunbar, or the time will finally be right to expand the Bread and Roses baking operation.

 

I managed some rest on Thursday, but also put in some planning work and fired my oven ready for a baking course which ran on Friday.   I entertained 2 women from near Morpeth who came to make pizzas, ciabatta, focaccias and baguettes.   In spite of some dicey weather, the day was a roaring success, thanks largely to the enthusiasm of the students, and my oven behaving almost impeccably.   A full set of photographs can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24731237@N03/sets/72157632558366165/    Here is a selection of photographs from the day.

 

The weekend has quickly passed by.   Alison and I have set a gruelling schedule to keep ourselves afloat this year.   But we have also lined up 4 holidays, which will be our time to rest, relax and recuperate together.   Next weekend I have 2 markets.   I have little time in February, but have to produce for both markets.   We have a holiday lined up in the third week of February for 4 nights.   I don’t know any more than that.   It’s my 48th Birthday surprise!!!”

 

To finish here are a few photographs of some of the breads I expect to be offering for sale in Alnwick on Friday.   You can see the full set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24731237@N03/sets/72157632562817778/

 

 

Very best wishes to you all

Andy  

Comments

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Andy,

I am looking with wonder at your courtyard and snow ... 

Sounds like you have so much going on ... but it's good to hear your hard work will be rewarded with a warm holiday!

All the best,
Phil

ananda's picture
ananda

I'm afraid it doesn't fill us with any wonder Phil!

It's still cold and the snow is sticking around...most unfortunately

Very good to hear from you, thank you for your kind words

All good wishes

Andy

jemar's picture
jemar

  1. I wish I  lived nearer, your bread looks very good!  You could probably teach me quite a bit too.
ananda's picture
ananda

Hi jemar,

where are you based?

Thank you for your comments

Best wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

it's a wonder you have time to give so much help and encouragement on TFL.     Thanks so much for catching us up to your activities, and the real life challenges of making a living without compromising one inch (ok centimeter) on bread quality.   In fact the opposite.   I hope you continue to have great success with your endeavors as what could be more meaningful than getting first class bread out into the community, and perhaps stanching the tide of mediocrity.  

ananda's picture
ananda

What's that Varda?

Your good wishes and support for what I'm doing is very much appreciated, of course

Take good care

Andy

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Wow!  How things change and how exciting to know you are in on the ground floor of that change.  I appreciate all the hard work involved in 'creating' something....Easier said than done and to convince people to try something new is a huge challenge in and of itself.  We get so caught up in our own habits which creates huge resistance to try something new....

Thanks for sharing this newest leg of your journey!

Take Care,

Janet

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Janet,

Having been given no other option in the past, I now expect and embrace change.   Otherwise, I might have ended up trapped dpoing some mediocre teaching job for a worthless educational establishment.   There's a lot more to a fulfilled life isn't there?   I'm happy on that ground floor!

Many thanks for your kind words

Very best wishes

Andy

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

nice selection of breads Andy.  Baking great bread should be easier though.  Hope the economy turns around soon for all of our skakes!

Happy Baking  

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi DA,

I don't really do easy.   Once I have created an improved environment to produce bread, I'll then have to take the challenge up another level...and so it goes on.   As for the economy, I'm afraid we are going nowher here in the UK   Politicians who don't govern, lead by example, are not worthy of their privileged position at the helm of our society.   And those who inflict austerity then use taxpayers money to support people they have put out of work should hang their heads in shame.  It's not going to get better anytime soon, I fear.

Your kind words about my breads are most appreciated, thank you

Best wishes to you

Andy

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Much respect for the example you're setting and the inroads you're making. Here's to the revivial of High Streets (and their equivalents) everywhere - and especially to real bread finding its way back to its rightful place on the tables of our nations.

Cheers
Ross

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Ross,

Thank you so much for posting such supportive words.   High Street retail is in a precarious way in the UK right now, and without it some of us believe the fabric of society will fall apart.   However change is inevitable; I wonder what will be the new means by which real bread is available to all to buy?

All good wishes

Andy

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

We don't have High Sts as such, but the days of the local butcher, baker, and whatsitmaker are all but gone. Only a few specialists remain, servicing the 'gourmet' (more often, affluent dedicated followers of food fashion) end of the market. All the rest have been steamrolled by the one-stop-shopping phenomenon ushered in by the big supermarkets. Even worse in Australia, we have a powerful duopoly - Coles and Woolworths - that dominates the supermarket sector and has sucked the lifeblood out of small farmers and other small food-orientated producers through aggressive pricing policies. You'll be well familiar with all this. I imagine Tescos etc engage in the same practices in the UK.

The hope is people like you, who are slogging away without just financial reward in the conviction that quality will win in the end, and that the good fight, hard as it is, is worth fighting. The word IS spreading. A decade ago or so, there was one genuine sourdough bakery in my home town of Perth, but now there are several, and others springing up in regional areas. Melbourne, from all reports, has a small but growing - and apparently thriving - artisan bakery scene of high repute. Bugger me if the supermarkets aren't now advertising sourdough and 'artisan' breads in their own bakery lines . On one hand, I find myself resisting a retching reflex; on the other, it is an acknowledgement that there's a growing awareness among the public of a quality alternative to the mass-produced sliced and wrapped crap - one that the Duopoly cannot ignore.

Ditto the increasing popularity of "free range" produce. Not so many years back, before the Masterchef juggernaut and TV celeb chefs hit the mainstream, food provenance was a factor only considered by a small minority -  food nuts like thee and me, and of course the folk on forums like this who obviously care enough to go the extra mile in putting quality food on their tables by DIYing and/or sourcing ingredients with care.

Something I do wish we had here that, it seems, folks in the US are blessed with, is farmer-direct markets in abundance. We have some weekend farmers' markets, but it's all very small-scale and weekend-only shopping for food is not my preference - I like to buy on the day of use, or close to it. Still, therein lies one of the problems: the prioritising of convenience over quality and food provenance. I reckon that's what needs to be overcome if we're to restore the boutique/artisan food providers to any prominence. How is, of course, the question. Committed artisans like, you, Andy, are part of the answer...and I applaud you wholeheartedly. But the biggie is the convenience attitude that prevails in the vast majority of consumers. Either that attitude has to change (not likely) or artisan/boutique produce must find a way to accommodate that consumer convenience demand, while keeping prices reasonably competitive. Simplistic, granted, but that's it in a nutshell as I see it.

There's hope - a lot more than a decade ago - but a long, long way to go.

Cheers
Ross

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Ross,

I think it's really about getting people to really think about what food they put in their mouths.   It's about a change of mindset moving away from the supermarket peddling more and more mediocrity, and becoming aware that in reality "less is more".   We don't need to buy in to eating more and more junk when a few choice items of real authentic food can sustain us perfectly well, indeed much better.   Once that is accepted, then it is about finding access to favourite foods on a regular basis.   There, I grant you, the supermarket is king: it has everything all under one roof.   But it perpetuates mediocrity by dumbing down what really should be good food.

Thanks for your thought-provoking contribution to the thread

All good wishes

Andy

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I loved reading what you've been up to and thanks for sharing the wonderful photos too.  

Looks like everyone had a lot of fun, kept warm and enjoyed some delicious rewards coming out of the wfo.  

Hard at work as always and yet you still find time for you and yours.  Sounds like a well deserved holiday and 48th celebration in store.

Sylvia    

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Sylvia,

Thank you very much for your kind words.   I am just starting to really look forward to the surprise break...my wife excels at this sort of venture!

Very best wishes to you

Andy

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

and may your plans work out.

Your breads look better than ever.

Juergen

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Juergen,

I really appreciate your good wishes for my plans, and, especially your regard for my bread

All good wishes

Andy

isand66's picture
isand66

  As always Andy your breads look fantastic.  I really admire the passion you show with your love for baking.  While the economy may be looking grim I'm sure you will always find a good home for your product.

regards

Ian

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Ian,

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic words of support, they are much appreciated

Best wishes

Andy

JOHN01473's picture
JOHN01473

Hi Andy,

for some strange reason you have reminded me of the film "The Agony and the Ecstasy" where Charlton Heston played Michelangelo.
and how great artists have to suffer for their art - the only thing is, and as random as random is -
it took from June 1980 to December 1999 to restore the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo did it in four years.
so here we are back on topic and your great bakes - great attention to detail is the real art of making something difficult look easy.

for some strange reason you have reminded me of the film "The Agony and the Ecstasy" where Charlton Heston played Michelangelo.
how great artists have to suffer for their art - the only thing is, and as random as random is -
it took from June 1980 to December 1999 to restore the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo did it in four years.
so here we are back on topic - your great bakes and hard work -

"great attention to detail is the real art of making something difficult look easy".

 Kerching - Boom

best wishes

John

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi John,

I really like the quotation in the last bit of your post; nice one.

Very good to hear from you of course; many thanks for your comments

Best wishes

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Andy,

Hi Andy,

Thoroughly enjoyed the slide show of your mornings production at Dunbar Bakery, and all the breads look super, but especially taken with the Tiger Bread . Back when we used to make all of the bread we sold in our shop, one of our most popular was what we called Dutch Crunch, with a similar topping I'm sure to your Tiger Bread. Rice flour, salt, yeast, vegetable oil and water if I recall correctly? I've always thought that mixture could be turned into a good flatbread or cracker of some kind but haven't gotten around to it yet. What type of oven and other equipment are you working with at Dunbar, do you make any pastries or is it strictly breads, and can you show some shop photos in upcoming posts to give us a glimpse behind the scene, so to speak?

Hope you and Alison have a wonderful, relaxing vacation on your return to sunny Anotolika and looking forward to seeing what you bake in that nice little WFO again. Marie and I are off this Saturday for our winter sun break, this time to new (to me) territory, cruising around the Caribbean for 8 days, with a 4 night stay in South Beach, Miami before we return to the mill once again.

All the best my friend, don't work too hard,

Franko

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Franko,

Maybe you will have to pick up this reply on your return?   Whatever, I hope you have a fantastic holiday away together.

Yes, I make the Tiger Paste with a rice flour paste as you describe; this was used on these breads in the photo.   We normally make a fermenting paste with rye flour and milk, and paste it straight on to the breads as they go into final proof.   Then we sprinkle white flour on as they are loaded to the oven and baked with steam.

Equipment-wize, there is a 3-deck Mono electric oven - all decks have steam; a Spiral mixer, 2 speeds, bowls rotatation on first speed, 32kg flour capacity; we also have a Mono prover cabinet, Foster Retarder, an electric pastry brake and a 30 piece BDM.

If I get a chance, I'' post some photos of the display in the shop, but I don't have my camera with me this week, sorry.

All the very best

Andy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Andy,
Happy New Year to you too!
I think it's wonderful you are transforming communities - yours and others - by making really good bread and passing along your baking knowledge.
I hope your markets and classes are very successful, and that you really enjoy your holidays and birthday celebration - glad you have good things to look forward to!
:^) breadsong

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Breadsong,

It is lovely to hear from you and thank you very much for your kind and generous words, as always.

Very best wishes

Andy