Friday, 20 February 2009

Home made bread

At hotel Posada del Valle we are proud to say that we make and bake our own bread and have been doing so for the last three years. Before that we use to buy partly baked deep frozen bread, but we decided this wasn’t in keeping with our environmental principles and we wanted to serve organic bread. The reason we started baking our own bread was that our nearest organic bakery could not deliver bread to the hotel until a day and half after it had been baked. So we decided the solution was to bake it ourselves.

At first it seamed quite an awesome task to bake bread each day for both breakfasts and evening meals. But Joe with her characteristic cooking skills soon made light work of the bread making and we’ve been serving tasty home made bread ever since.

Other than time, the ingredients needed for home made “Slow Bread” are really very simple – just flour (preferably organic), water, yeast and salt. We use a very simple basic recipe and then add all sorts of different seeds, nuts, grains, fruit and even vegetables, to produce a wide range of tasty breads, some for breakfast and some for the evening meal. Walnut, poppy seed, multi grain, muesli, cheese and onion, garlic and parsley, beer, the range of bread is never ending. We use a mixture of white and brown flours and in the main our breads tend to be quite wholesome.

The bread we make at the hotel takes two to four hours depending on the room temperature and we have no special bread making machinery. The bread is kneaded by hand, there are living organisms (yeasts) involved in the process, and a need to match the fermentation period to the amount of gluten in the flour. Bread made slowly has no need of improvers, enzymes or other additives.

This home made slow bread is such a contrast to the refined bread you buy in the supermarkets which has its origin in the Chorleywood Bread-making Process (CBP) invented in 1961. This is based primarily upon a really fast dough mixer, but also involves more yeast and higher temperatures than conventional bread-making. This enabled the initial ‘bulk fermentation’ period to be cut from three hours to a few minutes and the process to be carried out in factories by semi-skilled operators.

Contrary to many peoples belief making bread at home really is very simple and easy. We thoroughly recommend you try it yourself. Find a good flour, try different recipes and methods and experiment until you find a bread that suits your taste. Then you can enjoy the taste of home baked bread

Good bread is one of the foundation stones of a healthy diet. When we talk about good bread we mean that it will taste good, be cleanly produced (better for you and the planet) and be fairly produced and rewarded. Good, clean and fair this is the ethos of slow food movement and home baked or slow bread symbolises so much of what slow food is about. Some people even go as far to say that making your own bread is the activism of every day. What is sure is that our home made bread tastes lovely and must be healthier for you. Slow bread is also more easily digestible as the yeast will have had time to feed and ripen the gluten.
What’s also nice for us is that by serving the slow bread we make and which symbolises many of our beliefs, we can share our philosophies with guests simply by letting them enjoy the bread we have cooked.

If you’re interested in bread making this will be one of the topics in the cookery courses Joe will be instructing this year.


Ian and Luis said...

Cookery courses?.....more information please...

Nigel and Joann Burch said...

Ive put a link on the blog to the information about the cookery courses, which is on the hotel web page


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.