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The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay “A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Mar 2014 back issue
Bread Ballet
Words by Alex Poulter Photographs by Damian Bird
When I began baking at home a little over three years ago there is no way I could have known I would soon be running my own bakery. What started with a conversation about food with a stranger, took me on a journey back to basics and simple pleasures. Baking bread is about taking good quality, simple ingredients and bringing them together to make something far greater than the sum of the parts. Baking bread quickly became a habit for me and I soon realised all I wanted to do was to bake and to share what I was making. What captured my imagination was the pleasure of seeing the process through from start to finish, from raw ingredients through to selling the loaves and talking to people about what we do. The East Bristol Bakery was built on this idea. We have an open plan bakery so everyone can see what we're doing and we share our passion for what we do with our customers. Our work can often be physically demanding, repetitive and strenuous, but it is the conversations and exchange we have with our customers that makes what we do a true pleasure. When Damian came to visit he joked that it was like a “Bread Ballet”, remarking that we never stopped moving and that we were always working with our hands to a rhythm. I've never used the word 'ballet' to describe what we do before, but it rings true and I like that idea. Baking can become quite a repetitive routine, producing large volumes means repeating the same movements and the same tasks over and over again. But it can become a very meditative experience, and you find your own rhythm to what you're doing. It is this daily rhythm, our Bread Ballet, that Damian has captured in his photographs.
Loading the oven with a traditional Jewish enriched bread called Challah.
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Preparing overnight sourdough. The dough rests in these baskets overnight to prove slowly
Weighing potato and rosemary sourdough, a rich aromatic bread.
Dealing with customers makes all the hard work worth it.
Coffee really helps with those early mornings!
All our flour is organic and you quickly get used to carrying 25kg bags around.
Polly and I check the baked bread, always making sure everything is how we want it.
Whilst Polly bakes our overnight sourdough, I shape our traditional white tin loaves.
We divide our doughs by weighing it out into the sizes we need per loaf.
Polly concentrates on making sure every loaf is baked perfectly.
Baked bread builds up on the cooling racks as I continue to shape tin loaves.
The baskets we use to prove the bread leave these lines of flour which look beautiful when baked.
In the background Nikki makes cakes, whilst Alma and I serve.
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