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