I was a bit bemused one afternoon in July in the High Street when I found myself being offered a large loaf of bread for free.
Then I heard that the Round House had been opened up with bubbly, free samples of bread and sour dough loaves sold in aid of Rainbows. I got the point: in September Barrow would be enjoying its first regular pop-up bakery. The July freebies were an experiment. The Round House was to open once a week on Fridays between 2 and 4 with Bröd (actually pronounced like brurd) selling artisan bread made in a kitchen on Beveridge Street.
Bröd is the brainchild of Georgina Clarke and husband Declan. They have lived in Barrow for 10 years while bringing up their three young children. Georgina is a chef by profession and has worked in some very prestigious kitchens. She has always wanted to spend more time on bread baking and gradually the idea came to her that she could bake from home. Two years ago she started making sourdough. She was aiming for a really flavoursome but healthy bread so she searched for exceptional flour and a favourite version of “The Bitch”, the name given to the sourdough flour, water and wild yeasts starter. She found an ideal organic white wheat flour and once happy with The Bitch and how to feed it, started trading.
On a Thursday evening she gets the kids to bed and then begins baking. With Declan’s help, she prepares the loaves to prove (i.e. to rise) slowly in the fridge overnight. To begin with Declan had to be guided every step of the way but is now an expert. From 2.00pm he serves in the Round House while Georgina bakes and runs to and fro, topping up with the next tray of loaves. You might imagine that she cooks in a large purposebuilt bakery but hers is a small cottage kitchen with an ordinary old double oven. Consequently, what you buy is still warm or even hot and bursting with flavour.
Georgina’s ambition is to build a business based on community enterprise. She hopes to carry on using the Round House to catch the end-of-school passers-by. Her dream is to involve helpers from the immediate community working in an environment that is both busy but relaxing. For the moment, both Declan and Georgina have as much as they can manage just with opening on a Friday. But who knows how the business will develop. Why not go along and see for yourself?
Recipe provided by Judth Rodgers.
Baking a sour dough loaf (You can download a PDF version Here)
This is my personal version. If you want the advice of a pro, visit Brod on a Friday 2 – 4 in the Round House
• 375g/13oz strong white flour or a mixture of strong white and strong malted bread flour plus extra for dusting
• 250g/9oz sour dough starter
• 7.5g salt (or a bit less according to your taste)
• 130-175ml/4-6fl oz luke warm water
• Olive oil for kneading
1. Combine the flour, starter and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, and mix with your hands to make a soft dough (you may not need all of the water).
2. Coat a chopping board or work surface with olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough formed is smooth and elastic. (I use my bread-maker for this mixing)
3. Tip the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for five hours, or until at least doubled in size.
4. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, knocking the air out. Roll into a ball and dust with flour.
5. Tip the dough into an oiled round cake tin and leave to rise for 4-8 hours. I then put mine in the fridge overnight, ready to cook at my convenience.
6. Put a tray half filled with water on the bottom oven shelf and preheat the oven to 200C (fan)
7. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes at this heat, then inspect. If it needs more cooking, reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
You may want to experiment with added flavours eg thyme, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, seeds etc Good quality bread flour is a MUST!
Making a sour dough starter: (give it a name eg The Bitch. The monster, George, Fanny etc)
75g good quality bread flour
Find a suitable container to house your sour dough starter; a large kilner jar with a loose lid is good Weigh the flour and warm water into the jar and stir.
Leave your jar in a prominent and warm place.
Each day for a week repeat the process, feeding the sourdough starter with 75g of flour and 75g water and stirring well.
After about 5 days you'll notice bubbles in the starter, you can use the culture at this stage, but it will be slow and weak so better to keep going for two or three more days.
Keep what is left after you have taken enough for a loaf. This is the starting point for the next batch of bread.
Either feed the starter as before or store it in the fridge until you are ready to start a new loaf.
Remember to take the starter out of the fridge several hours before you want to use it.
Enjoy decent bread! You will never want supermarket pap ever again. It tastes great and has a lovely texture.