Published on July 10th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Using your loaf
Making bread and turning it into beer is just one collaborative idea from a brewer and a baker, writes Alastair Gilmour
Anyone can make a loaf of bread; it’s not that difficult. However, there’s a mystique about the magic of yeast and fermentation and the wonder that you can end up with something so tasty and personally satisfying.
And there’s hardly a more therapeutic occupation than mixing flour, water, salt and yeast together to make a dough that you’ll kneed and turn and fold and pound and spin and kneed again and again for 15 minutes until it’s ready to rest (as well as doing so yourself) before it eventually goes into a steaming hot oven to emerge covered in glorious aromas and self-satisfaction that will help keep your head straight and your brain active.
Artisan Baking Community and Tyne Bank Brewery have been collaborating on Brew & Bake days where individuals and groups take part in the bread making process then see how something like toasted sourdough can be crushed and mashed into boiling water to make Toast Ale. It’s fascinating, muscle-aching and satisfying.
The Artisan Baking Community is a social enterprise which has been operating for six years in the region but now needs a larger, long-term base to flourish. The company, headed by entrepreneur Andy Haddon, has take a ten-year lease on premises in Shieldfield, Newcastle, which will enable it to expand its trading and enhance its social impact. A crowdfunding initiative (now closed, but direct donations and in-kind support are still possible) has been running to fund refurbishment and to buy equipment.
Andy Haddon says: “We have demonstrated demand by running baking courses and training sessions in schools, community centres and similar locations throughout the North East with hundreds of individuals – including many with physical and mental disabilities – across a wide age range.
“Around the Shieldfield area we have consulted with residents at a series of events, collecting unanimously positive responses about the benefits of establishing the Shieldfield Community Bakery which will increase employability and mental health outcomes and will improve access for local people to high quality, affordable food.”
Corporate days like Brew & Bake workshops are key elements to the community bakery’s support, helping subsidise what it does with local companies. Artisan Community Bakery is all about the circular economy, sustainability and doing something not too complicated. Bread and beer are compatible, so making beer from toasted bread or bread from spent brewers’ grains makes a lot of sense.
“We want to demonstrate that artisanal products are not just for the affluent, they should be affordable for everyone,” says Andy. “You have to make it real for people, make it relevant.
“It sounds romantic but the North East can show the world a finer way to fund environmentally-sound practices. But you don’t start things like this from the top down. We started in Felling, Gateshead, in a local school where we made artisanal bread available in one of the most deprived wards in Britain. The kids made the bread and sold it to their parents.”
Making loaves with cider and beer also among the ingredients is great fun; crushing sharp-edged sourdough toast into a bucket is less so, but at least teams on the Brew & Bake day get to understand the word community.