Back to bare Basics
Caroline Bingham went to visit The Barefoot Bakery, a newly launched community bakery in Spalding, which aims to spread the word about real bread.
Dave Dobson has travelled the world, often when he worked as a consultant for the Foreign Office and now more for pleasure to visit India where he and his wife, June, have a home in Kerala and one of their children is working in Chennai. His love of bread making came from not only experiencing a wide variety of breads on his travels but also from necessity when he couldn’t find any bread which reminded them of home.
Now, Yorkshire born Dave has used his talent to found a community bakery, The Barefoot Bakery, based in Spalding, with a mission to spread the word about real bread.
It has taken twelve months to research the project and considerable time spent helping out at the award winning, Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, to hone his skills in making artisan breads and understanding of how a community micro bakery can work. With the delivery of a brand new, twin, stone based bread oven from Lincat, the Lincoln based catering equipment company, Dave is now able to bake up to thirty loaves per hour and wants to recruit more enthusiastic volunteers to devote some of their time to making bread and subscribers for the produce.
Traditional bread making underwent a revolution in the early sixties when a high speed method was devised which could produce a ‘standard’ loaf in ninety minutes as opposed to the sixteen to twenty four hours needed to ferment and bake traditionally made bread. The method moved away from using only the basic ingredients of flour, water, yeast and salt to include additives like bleach, L-ascorbic acid, reducing agents, emulsifiers, preservatives and enzymes which made the dough machine tolerant, added volume and extended shelf life of the product. This mass production has produced a loaf that is a bland and adulterated version of a real loaf and it is The Barefoot Bakery’s mission to spread the word of the better nutritional, social and ethical value of traditionally made, artisan bread.
Many people who have an allergic reaction to mass produced bread can find they are tolerant of real bread because it is a naturally produced product which retains far more nutrients without additives and large quantities of yeast.
Using organic flours, stone-milled at the Maud Foster Windmill in Boston, Dave is producing a range of slow fermented loaves using a minimum amount of yeast. There is an ‘All Night White’ loaf, granary and oat with honey and black treacle, a ‘Maud Foster Mill’ loaf which uses a mix of four flours, a wholemeal with milk and brown sugar to darken the crust and a Lincolnshire leaven, sourdough bread. The ‘mother’ for the sourdough was originally from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage’ and has been ‘alive’ for nearly thirty years.
The Barefoot Bakery is also producing a range of special breads including cinnamon and raisin, pain de campagne, coriander and rye, butternut squash and pumpkin seed baguette, an olive levain, roasted potato and rosemary bread, fougasse and focaccia.
Dave has already made links with local schools to start to get young people back in touch with the sources of food and bread as part of the national curriculum and encourage groups of parents to purchase loaves on a subscription basis. Equally, any group within the community can get together and buy a quantity of bread which the Barefoot Bakery will deliver. You can also take out a subscription on the website. Prices start at £20 for a month for two loaves per week, working out at only £2.50 per loaf.
Finally, what is the origin of the name, The Barefoot Bakery? Well, the chosen footwear for many bakers is Crocs because of the hot environment they work in but if Dave cannot wear his beloved Converse trainers then he joked to fellow bakers at The Handmade Bakery, he would just have to go barefoot.
If you would like to become involved with The Barefoot Bakery or subscribe to their service you can find more details on their website or alternatively give them a call.
The Barefoot Bakery runs a series of courses on bread making. Either half or full day courses run on a Sunday and everyone leaves with loaves they have made on the day. Prices start from £60 for adults and £20 for under 16s for the Baking with Children half day, which includes lunch and £110 for the full day Bread Basics which includes breakfast and lunch. There are gift vouchers available too if you know someone who would love to attend a course. Full details are available on the website.