#RealBread

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

Bee Morgan has a passion for shaping, making, baking and sharing real bread - here she shares that passion with us.....

To talk or write about #RealBread definitely brings out the passionate girl in me! An idealist even! So thank you, Amia, for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts, love and passion around this topic.

 

Just a little history. My grandfather was a baker. Unfortunately, he died when I was 8 so I actually didn't get to spend a lot of time with him - let alone in the bakery. But two of my uncles were bakers and these days my cousin is still running the family bakery in Rotterdam - Bakkerij Lexmond.

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

 

 

My aunt tells me that Granddad's focus and main passion was bread, not patisserie, although he made and sold both.

 

It must be in the genes. Mum used to bake a lot and I started baking cakes, biscuits etc, from a very young age. I kept cooking and baking a lot throughout my life - even during my rat race years in London - but it wasn't until 4 years ago, when we moved to Belgium for my husband's work, that I started to develop a renewed interest in baking. This time it was serious. I wanted to bake #RealBread. I got a sourdough 'starter' going and off I went.

 

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

 

I have used the # for RealBread here because there is currently so much going on around this subject. Check Instagram and Twitter and you'll see a world of slowly developed and properly baked sourdough loaves filling your screen. In the UK there is also the #RealBread campaign. You can read all about it on their website: www.sustainweb.org

 

The thing is......'we' are still eating too much bread that contains a list of ingredients as long as our arm. In fact, you probably don't even want to know what's in a loaf from your favourite supermarket. And yes, that could even include human hair.

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

So out comes the passionate girl in me who would love it if everyone would either bake their own bread or would go to a proper (artisan) bakery and buy bread that is made by someone who has spent a lot of time and energy putting together a loaf of bread that simply contains only three or four ingredients: flour, water, salt and, in some cases yeast.

 

I do understand that baking sourdough bread at home and maintaining your sourdough starter on a regular basis can be time consuming. But if you see how many people start that process and simply become 'addicted' to it... once you get to taste #RealBread and experience the results of your efforts, there's hardly a way back. And let's be honest, putting together a simple yeast loaf with good ingredients doesn't cost that much of our time. Kids love to bake too. Get them involved!

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

 

I've ended up baking weekly - on Fridays. Which means the process starts Wednesday evening when I prepare the preferments (a bit of sourdough starter with fresh water and flour) which becomes the 'wild yeast' for the loaves as it were. I am mixing, folding & stretching, dividing & shaping on Thursday for most of the day and baking on Friday morning after the loaves have spent the night in the fridge (this is called 'retarding'). With this schedule I don't have to get up at a crazy time and I can fit it in with the children's activities. I bake for others too, which makes it just that little bit more exciting!

 

Of course, for those with full-time jobs, this schedule can also be done from Friday evening to Sunday morning - by which time your house will be filled with the smell of fresh bread..... what's not to like?!

Photo courtesy of Bee Morgan

The loaves that have become a favourite here are the 30% rye loaves. They contain 70% strong white bread flour and 30% wholemeal rye and are made with a rye sourdough starter. In the meantime, I have also developed a loaf which I have called the #LexmondLoaf - after my mother's baking family. That took a while as it is a loaf with a higher 'hydration' (more water in the dough) - something that can be tricky and hard to work with. There is a famous baker called Chad Robertson from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco who uses this high hydration process all the time and he has published a few books that I have been using to learn this. And I am still learning loads!

 

Right now, as I am writing this, I've got a dough on the go which is for two #SixSeed #Lexmondloaf - one of which will go to a Russian friend who loves the sourdough bread because it reminds her of home. The added caraway seeds take her straight back to Russia!

I can't imagine my life without baking bread anymore now. In fact, if I don't bake I get very grumpy. Ask my husband! Baking is a very rewarding, satisfying and therapeutic process. That's why I think more of us should give it a go.

Photo courtesy of Bee MorganIn my previous 'rat race life' I was a change management consultant. And I think that the passion I had back then for achieving change, is still hiding in me somewhere. I would love to run a #RealBread programme that's rolled out across schools in the UK where we get everyone enthusiastic enough to go baking - at school and at home. In my daydreams I am getting Jamie Oliver to buy into it and do this programme together with me  - Food Revolution style!

For those of you who are thinking of baking bread at home for the first time, I can recommend Emmanuel Hadjiandreo's book 'How To Make Bread'. He also works at the Artisan School of Food where you can attend some great baking courses. I did the four day advanced baking course there and had the time of my life! Very inspiring indeed.

Another 'bible' of mine has been Jeffrey Hamelman's book 'Bread'. Perhaps a slightly more professional focus - but the biggest wealth of information on ingredients, techniques, etc.

I hope I've inspired at least some of you to secretly have a go..... try it, bake it, taste it. You won't want any shop bought loaves ever again!

You can find Bee on Twitter : @beezzzzzBee 

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