Busy, busy …

Sorry I’ve been so quiet. For us holidays are time of reflection and Grand Plans as well as a bit (lot) of excess. As you get older plans become less grand because you’d better cram it in while the going’s good. So just when I decide I should concentrate on writing, rather than baking and teaching, all these people pop up wanting to do courses – microbakery is not yet dead.

So, first priority, revise “Bethesdabasics – Sourdough Made Simple”. Hard copy stocks have all been bought up. Time to rewrite it and put it out solely as an ebook. Just as I’m getting started “Slow Dough – Real Bread” comes to my notice. Chris Young telling you how to make sourdough? It’s the death of satire all over again.

I won’t go on about it, honest. But you have Andrew Whitley implying (by juxtaposition of unrelated facts) that he has brought the industrial bread industry to its knees and says one of the main tasks of the Real Bread Campaign is to defend the integrity of concepts such as “artisan” and “craft”. Where was the book printed? – China. It appears that most of the recipes were gathered by inviting campaign members to submit them. But then it says that in many cases Chris has rewritten them to the extent that maybe they should be described as “inspired by” rather than “created by”. Plus it seems that the way you discover that your recipe has not been accepted is by its absence from the book.

Looking at the people involved it appears a lot of hatchets have been buried since the campaign was set up. It has the full complement of publishers, agents, editors, food stylists, prop stylists, photographer, etc., and, unlike Sow Dough, I don’t think the School of Artisan Food will be giving me a week of their time to test my formulas – not that they need testing, they’ve all been severely worked over for years in actual bakes for Real Customers.

Best of all, after all the stuff about how good long fermented bread is for you, it concludes with, “If you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have and special dietary requirements or medical conditions, it is advisable to consult a medical professional before following any of the recipes contained in this book.”

Never mind, it’s the nearest thing we have to a working definition of what constitutes Real Bread™.

Sorry again. I was really just trying to wrap up our holiday with some thoughts on baking in limited circumstances.
camp8-001-smallThis was my last loaf – 800g Pain de Campagne using stone ground T65 organic flour. Rick used to say that he preferred doing plaits with yeasted dough because the proving time with sourdough meant losing definition. But here, with a single strand knot, it holds up perfectly. As I said earlier, a knot holds up really well when you don’t have proving baskets.
camp8-002-smallcrumb-003-smallcrumb-004-smallThat’s as good as I can make at home with all my gear, big ovens etc. In France I just had a salad bowl for mixing, plastic scraper, scales, a pizza tin, a tea towel, a sheet of plastic, a tomato knife (for a bread knife as well as for slashing) and a mini microwave/convection oven with a very dubious thermostat. I know where I would rather be …

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