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

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

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"