Sarehole Community Bakery??

Sarehole Mill is one of the hidden treasures of Birmingham, if you’ve never visited you should definitely check it out. The fantastic curator Irene along with the city council have managed to secure a significant amount of funding to restore the mill to working order to start selling flour again, and to refurbish the 180 year old coal-fired bread oven on the site to start baking bread. You can read all the details on Councillor Martin Mullaney’s blog – here and here. I took a tour around the site today with Irene, and we chatted about the possibility of baking on-site in the original oven. We’ve identified the possibilities on the site as well as some major hurdles to cross, but hopefully we will be able to help Irene and her team to get the oven back into working order and start baking (and hopefully selling) bread from the mill. Meanwhile here’s a few photos of Sarehole Mill on this gorgeous day…

The silted up mill pond - this will be dredged soon. Anyone got a truck to distribute the silt to allotments?

The bakehouse opposite the mill. Oven is in the left hand room.


The oven is still in fairly good nick after 180 years.
The original dough kneading trough

Sourdough loaves for sale today

sourodugh breadI had lots of dough leftover after yesterdays wash-out food festival at Winterbourne Gardens, so I called up my mate Carl who has an enormous wood-fired oven in Stirchley. He fired it up mid-afternoon, and we popped round in the evening to bake the remaining dough, and turn it into these whopping 1kg loaves of sourdough bread. Wander down Dell road in Cotteridge today and you can pick one up for £3, or email to reserve one. Now what to do with all the leftover cheese and ham…

In Search of a Local Loaf – Part 2

charlecoteSo about three weeks ago I went to visit the historic Charlecote Mill in Warwickshire, where I had a private tour from John Bedington the Miller. When I got back from holiday I was champing at the bit to try out the wholemeal flour I had taken home, so much so that the sourdough starter was whipped out of the fridge and refreshed before i’d even taken my coat off. I keep a white sourdough starter, and taking John’s advice, I wanted to include a decent percentage of strong white flour to create a light, wholesome loaf. So I made it with a high percentage of sourdough starter (40% of dough weight), but all the remaining flour was Charlecote Mill standard wholemeal flour. A 67% hydration dough and a long, cool, overnight bulk fermentation led to a light, wholesome loaf, full of flavour and a sense of history and place.

That was two weeks back, and since then i’ve managed to organise to get a 32kg sack of flour dropped off this week, so after a little more experimentation I’m hoping to add a local, wholemeal sourdough loaf to the standard loaves I produce for the community bakery every Friday.