The Sourdough Session

The sun was shining, the temperature has once more returned to sanity and the venerable yogis in the centre were saying “om”. I don’t think they would object to the word venerable for although it contains overtones of age it is also a mark of respect. Anyway, some of them are quite old (one is over 90) and a number of them do have to sit down to do the exercises. That’s actually quite a worry for me as some of them, though 20 years my senior, are a great deal fitter and more supple.

In the distance goats bleat, birds sing and the the chirruping of the guinea fowl can, like the song of the biblical mourning dove, be heard throughout the land. At the kitchen a group of people have gathered to bake sourdough bread and eat pizza for lunch. To this end the outdoor oven is smoking gently and salads are in preparation.

This is the sort of day that you rarely experience, the sort of day that calls for the sound of leather on willow and John Betjeman talking of muffins on the Light Programme.

It’s a pleasure to come to work on a day like this and a temptation to post a “this is the view from my office window” picture on Twitter.

The group is baking sourdough today, and in the lull where they wait for it to rise they are going to make pizza and cook it in the outdoor oven. The Bread Lady is in charge today; so many people call her that now in recognition of her great bread-making knowledge that I have decided to go with the flow. In passing, I shall mention that I am known as the Fat Man these days, though in truth I have no special knowledge of lard or polyunsaturates.


Bread Lady and sidekick

That, at least, was the plan. The bread-making, as you can see from the pictures, was a success.


Air kneading


Cutting the dough


The finished article

So was the salad selection, including foraged green salad (though it may be slightly immodest of me to say so) and the salad dressings seemed to go down well too, particularly the blackcurrant vinegar. Expect more recipes to appear soon, and and a bit more in the Wild Food section.


Mallow, Fat Hen and Nasturtium with borage, flowers, chive blossom and daisy and marigold petals.

The pizza oven fell victim to the farm’s command structure and parsimonious attitude with regard to wood, which, I must point out, DOES grow on trees. Once again we were faced with inadequate temperatures and long cooking times (so long that most people gave up and cooked them in the oven).

Despite this it was an interesting session and as I said to the Bread Lady afterwards, it’s amazing how well the group has gelled and how far we have come in technique in just a few years. This is proved by the way that they have worked so hard to run the catering at the last two Open Farm Sundays. (Do you think the word “proved” could look a bit like  a weak pun in this context – it wasn’t intended).

She said: “You’re only saying that because they gave you free pizza.”

The words “Bread Lady” might convey the impression that she’s a softer, crumbly version of the “Iron Lady”, but as you can see, she still manages to be both tough and accurate.

12 thoughts on “The Sourdough Session

      1. Helen

        I think the bees are still a bit distracted by phacelia (now poppies) in my garden, so no worries about fighting off the bees. The flowers look too beautiful to eat, mind.

      2. quercuscommunity

        No, but I’m preparing to try them. Just harvested a lot of fat hen and the stalks are pleasant and crunchy, bit like young calabrese. I feel some experimental eating coming on!

      3. quercuscommunity

        There is a fine line between being adventurous and stupid. Just like there’s a fine line between edible and palatable. I am on that line. Just not sure which side! 😉

  1. beatingthebounds

    “I am known as the Fat Man these days, though in truth I have no special knowledge of lard or polyunsaturates.”
    Priceless! Although, I nearly choked on my bread and dripping laughing at it.


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