Welcome to Bethesdabakin'

THIS August a gathering of bakers is taking place in the small town of Bethesda in North Wales.

Some are enthusiastic amateurs, others bake for a living. A few are somewhere between. Most have never met each other, but now consider themselves firm friends. All are passionate about baking real bread; the miracle of flour, yeast, salt and water.

All of this is largely due to the efforts of one person. Mick, the baker of Bethesda, who first conceived Bethesdabakin' earlier this year, and whose skills and indefagitable energy are an example to us all.

Mick first proposed this festival of bread on the forum of Dan Lepard's site, one of the great baking resources on the web. You can read his chronicles there, through the link on this page.

At present it looks as though at least two dozen bakers from all over Britain and the rest of the world will be descending on Bethesda for the bank holiday weekend. If you have stumbled on this site by chance, please feel free to join us. Sign up via membership of Dan Lepard's forum, where a charming lady called Teck Poh is taking names.

There is no admission charge, beyond your expenses, but everyone should expect to rise to the occasion, even if it is just to contribute a favourite recipe or help with the washing up.

We look forward to seeing everyone in August. Until then, peace and loaf -or should that be yeast and love - to you all!

April 25, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Picture links

Here are the links to all the known picture albums from Bethesdabakin' in addition to those on the Bethesdabakin' thread on the Dan Lepard forum.

Nina's pics

Jack's pics

Jeremy's pics (scroll to August 31, 2007)

Mick's pics

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bethesdabakin 2007

Well...it actually happened! I think everyone's expectations were met, and then some. The story can only really be told by all those who were there. To catch the accounts as they emerge, read the Bethesdabakin' thread at Dan Lepard's forum. The link begins here, but will doubtless continue for many pages yet.

For those interested in the more technical aspects of what went on, Dan has created the following wiki, also a work in progress.

I will add any other links to the event as they turn up. Meanwhile, if a picture is worth a thousand words, below here is a small photographic essay of just one day.

Finally, you may have noticed the countdown clock at the bottom of this blog. Nothing to do with me, but it seems to have decided to start up all over again.........

Still life with bannetons (0nly 99p at Wilkinsons!)
Adam, Sue and Jack. Oh and Mick's left hand (Sue is the right hand)

The kitchen/ bakery
Space was at a premium, but so was the bread
The king of Welsh flours
Nina shapes a baguette
Dan creates the first pizza
That's all folks!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bethesdabakin' souvenirs

Matt has worked on Teck Poh's logo design and turned it into not one, not two, not three but four eye-catching images! Print them out for a souvenir poster to cheer up the kitchen or on transfer paper to make a t-shirt for when it finally stops raining.
You can download the fullsize files, absolutely free, from the image hosting site Mediafire by following this link which will take you to a folder with links to all four colours.


For the more adventurous, the logo has been downloaded to Cafe Press, a website that allows you to order a large range of exciting product, from t shirts to aprons and beach bags. Cafe Press is based in the US, but can ship overseas at relatively inexpensive rates, thanks to the weak dollar. I should stress that this is all non profit (except for Cafe Press). Be aware that HM Customs can slap VAT on any order with a value above £18.
The link is here.

Any technical problems, email the blog.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Earth Oven Building

Earth Oven Building at Bethesda
Preparations continue for the building of an earth oven as part of Bethesdabakin'.
Mick has been sending me soil samples from the Rugby Club grounds to test for suitability as a building material. The ideal soil will have a high ratio of clay to sand (we can always add sand to soil that doesn't have enough, but it's much more difficult to remove sand from a soil that has too much). So far we have not found the ideal soil but the hunt continues.
The plan is to build the oven over the Friday and Saturday. Friday we will be build the foundations and on Saturday we have the fun and messy job of building the walls. To get an idea of the processes involved look here: http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=861
While at Bethesda please do drop by the oven building and lend your hands (and feet) to some mud wrangling. There is nothing quite as satisfying as baking a loaf that you have made with your bare hands in an oven you helped build with your bare hands. See you in the mud!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bread Bakers Guild of America

I extended an invitation to Bethesdabakin' last week to members of the Bread Bakers Guild of America via their forum (which is subscription membership only via Yahoo) There are a number of BBGA members already involved in planning Bethesdabakin', including myself, Jeremy, Jack Lang and I think Dan and Teck Poh - about five or six in total, but correct me if I am wrong.
For those that don't know the organisation, you don't have be American or live there (although all their activities take place in the US).
Members include some of the top bakers in the English speaking world, plus literally thousands of local artisan and home bakers. It is a remarkable community and the forum, which is archived and searchable, is probably the most extensive collection of baking advice and problem solving in the world.
At least one more BBGA baker has emailed me to say they hope to come to Wales in August and I received a nice message from Gina Piccolino, the executive director at the BBGA wishing us "great success." Gina also asks for a link from here to the BBGA, which I have done - you will find it under baking links.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New bread of the month

Also, you can see there is a new bread pic for June; a Hungarian Knot made and artfully photographed by our award winning logo designer Teck Poh. (who might have made a better job of London 2012, I think)


Bacheldre Watermill

An afternoon at Bacheldre Watermill............

Mick and I visited the Bacheldre Watermill this week to meet the owners and talk about using their flours for Bethesdabakin. The excellent news is that Bacheldre have agreed to sell us flour at a a very good price, which makes them our first official supplier and as local and organic as you can get.
Bacheldre may be familiar to many of you. They supply to Waitrose and many other farm shops and delis in Britain and, increasingly, overseas. Their flours are of the highest quality and have deservedly won numerous good food awards.
Also, as you can see above, Matt Scott, the owner with his wife Anne, is a pretty cool guy.
This is where the Scotts live. It's also their office and a small shop where you can buy Bacheldre flours. Although the public can't visit the actual mill - it's too small and Matt is too busy milling - the old granary has been converted into holiday cottages for rent. Bacheldre is near Church Stoke, in Powys. It's just in Wales, near Montgomery, to be precise, although turn right about 50 feet down the road and you are in Shropshire. For an exact location, look on the Google map World of Bakin bakers link.
This is the wheel photographed from the top. Parts of the mill date back to the 16th century, but much of the equipment is from the 19th century. You can see the large cast iron pipe that supplies the water from the mill pond. Just off the photo to the left are several huge modern grain hoppers.

And here is the mill pond,with resident duck. It would be nice if all the flour could be ground by water power, but the pond would be drained after less than an hour and Matt needs to run the machines for much longer than that. So the stones are now turned by electricity.
This is one of two sets of millstones, in its wooden housing. The grain comes down the wooden pipe you can see at the top and emerges as flour. It's on the top floor, so gravity does all the work.
This is Matt again, slightly out of sequence. This machine cleans the grain - it literally separates the wheat from the chaff. With the exception of German spelt, all the grains are from the UK and some is grown only a few fields away. Matt and his wife have said they hope to come down for one the baking days and that he will bring a mini mill along to give a demonstration of the milling process. If you want to know more about Bacheldre, they have an excellent website that includes recipes.
The link is here, and also right under "bakin' links"