By Hussina Raja
It’s week seven of the Just Bread project and the final week of our bread subscription. This morning we begin with a Spelt loaf for breakfast. This is one of my favourite loaves. It is dense, creamy in texture and delicious. Spelt is considered a healthier grain to wheat containing different gluten proteins. It is an ancient grain that is high in fibre and vitamin E, so it’s a desirable loaf for many.
Carmen, our baker, had mixed a stiff porridge of spelt flour and cracked spelt at 8am this morning. This combination is what gives the loaf it’s rich consistency. She begins to explain how the Spelt dough operates differently to the dough we’ve handled thus far. It has to be worked on quickly in order for it to expand, rise and produce the desired quality we want.
A large tub of dough is poured onto the table, and we immediately get cutting. As this dough is stickier, we need moisture to help create the friction against the table to shape the dough and ensure it doesn’t stick to our hands or the table.
We’re instructed to flip the dough a few times before cupping our hands around it and pulling it into a firm ball.
As the dough tightens we can see the spelt grains dotted around just beneath the surface. Six dough balls per tray are left to rest.
We prepare the round baskets we’ll be using with flour for the next stage.
During this time we take a wander over to the baker’s section to see the e5 bakers’ hard at work mixing and shaping the various dough for the week. It’s a very hands-on manual job, that requires a lot of repetition. There are lots of questions.
We return to the dough to start folding, adopting a different technique that requires pulling the edges of each ball into the centre until there is little to no elasticity remaining.
What we’re left with is a sort of stitching on one side of the dough. We cover the dough in flour and place it in a basket with the stitching facing upwards. It’s time to break for lunch and for our dough balls to rest in order to expand.
Over lunch we discuss the Just Bread Supper Club taking place at the Roasthouse next week. It’s a night of world cuisine cooked by our wonderful trainees to celebrate Refugee Week and their progress on the course. We’ve quickly decided on a menu consisting of the following, most of which offers a Vegan option.
Lentil soup served with a side of turcoman flatbread
Spinach Gutap on a bed of plantain
Gormeh Sabzi served with Iranian rice
Algerian sweet treat accompanied by mint tea
We’re now ready to carve the Spelt signature into our loaves. Carmen reiterates this needs to be done quickly to prevent the dough from collapsing.
We each take a basket, empty it onto a wooden tray, cautious to leave space between each loaf. With a small rigged knife, we score the loaf 3 times over and swiftly manoeuvre it over to the hot oven and, Voila!
While we wait for the Spelt loaves to come to life, we put our artistic talents into action by decorating paper bags for the Just Bread subscribers. A personalised touch to go with our handmade loaves.
We also put together a list of ingredients we need for the Supper Club.
It’s going to be a fun challenge, we get to indulge in the wonderful cuisine cooked by everyone, but also tasked with recreating these dishes for a larger group. A schedule is drawn up for the event and responsibilities delegated to everyone. The trainees work very well as a team, and today there is lots of giggling and discussions taking place.
The aroma of our fresh bread signals it’s ready. A cloud of hot mist escapes from the oven and golden brown loaves appear from the darkness.
They look amazing and smell beautiful! They’re laid out before us on a cooling rack. We admire and pick our favourites to share with our subscribers. Proudly wearing smiles we’ve successfully executed yet another recipe!
Photos by Jenny Matthews