Baking in a Barn and A Head of Steam


A friend emailed me this week and asked me about the Dales Dough Do and I realise I didn’t tell you how it went and what we got up to. So here goes:  We arrived after a very long and slow drive in a beautiful part of the Yorkshire Dales, checked in at the Bridge Inn and made our way finally to the farm.

We pulled into the yard only to meet a tractor towing a bread oven on a trailer. Firebeard had been working amazingly hard building a new oven for this event, and doing all the other myriad tasks that he, and Birdbread’s family had taken on in order to put this on.  FB carried on working on his oven over the weekend, anyone who has ever made their own oven will know that it just isn’t as simple as those books make it look!  He had already built an oven indoors the year before but the new one is to a different scale and is designed to be mobile.

Looking down on the farm

Old friends and some new ones, people coming and going, much chat, good food cooked by our hosts, exchange of breads and flours and general orientation going on most of that night. Phil made some flat breads to go with the fragrant curries that we had, along with the bread I had brought from the loaf in Crich which was enjoyed by everyone. Starters were set up for the following day, and we went down to the Inn to get some sleep. I think some people were up most of the night, well they would be, being proper bakers – unlike me!

Bread made with grunkorn flour

On Saturday I baked a large loaf of bread from one of Nils’ recipes using ‘grunkorn’ which Mick had brought for me to try and I had a go at baking some 100 % spelt bread using Andrew Auld’s formula with a mixture of white and wholemeal spelt.

I guess I am a bit spoilt at home as I have ovens that tell you what the temperature is and have glass doors so it is really easy to see what is going on, and the range cookers that we were using were quite unfamiliar to me, so everything was a bit hit and miss when it came to baking the breads. I am a creature of habit, and I am now full of admiration for those rare creatures, who can turn up in someone else’s kitchen and just cook brilliantly.


Brian went off for the day to explore a local steam railway, the Wensleydale, and won a ride on the footplate in a raffle.


A full head of steam -how to fit that to a baker's oven?

He hasn’t been on the footplate since he did his engine driver’s course down in Minehead on the West Somerset Railway so he was delighted! Edited, Brian feels you need a picture here  –  and has asked me to tell you that the engine was quite unusual, one he hadn’t seen before – an ex British Rail Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4 Built in Brighton in 1955 but spent most of her life working in Scotland. So now you know!

Familiar spirits of the place

These young swallows found their way up into the top half of the barn, while we were there, they should of course have been outside, practising their flying and getting ready for the long trek to Africa, but they found our antics far more fun and kept us company twittering around on the beams.

Saturday night was pizza night and lots of people turned up for dinner and it was a bit of a scramble to get everything organized and people fed, but we got there in the end.

On Sunday we went for a walk, sunny and windy, and then I helped Robin set up his brioche and baked biscuits and made dough with the children.  Joe’s niece also helped on Saturday night making the pizzas and the children were a delight and a joy to be around as were the very nice household dogs.

We went home around lunchtime, as we had a deadline to be back. Zeb and his sister were being looked after at home. As I went, Robin’s fragrant brioche was being pulled out of the oven and I was really sorry not to be there to try it and all the other lovely breads that I saw being prepared, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. It was lovely to see you all again, Chocveg, Stig, Mick, Sideburns,  Ben, Robin, Mick, BigG and of course Firebeard and I enjoyed meeting M and C, Phil, Fran, Terry and Stef and Val. It was great fun, thank you!

It was a great opportunity to be somewhere completely different and share  your passion with people that normally you only ‘talk’ to by email.  We had a good time and I hope to see them all again next year, maybe in North Wales in Bethesda? There’s a plan……maybe some of you will join us – now that would be fun !


100% Spelt (this one I remade when I went home again)

There are other photos: however we didn’t really crack the challenge of taking great photos in the barn, as we hadn’t thought about lighting and barns, by definition, are not designed with huge windows so I have decided not to add them here.  If you are curious, email me  using the contact page and I will send you the link to the Flickr group photos if you haven’t found them already.

6 thoughts on “Baking in a Barn and A Head of Steam

  1. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Sounds like you had a really lovely few days, playing with like-minded individuals! I’m glad to hear Brian got to play with trains – that would have happily kept my boys occupied as well! Loved all the pics (on Flickr) and these lovely countryside photos as well – thanks for sharing! :)

  2. heidiannie

    Your blog is a true delight!
    I love the places you go and the things you share. Thanks for sharing a little of your weekend- I was wondering if you were going to go into a little more detail than you had previously.
    I am so seriously jealous. I joined a bread making club last year, only to find out it was all about using bread machines! Grr. I don’t have a bread machine- don’t want a bread machine and don’t want to taste bread made by a machine. So I offered to show them how to make real bread and they were totally offended. I’m not sure if I quit or was ousted but I’m no longer in that club.
    your group sounds fun adventurous and cordial- thanks for giving me hope.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Come to sunny Wales next year! Mick is planning a weekend of baking joy 1st July in Bethesda and will set up a blog for it. I think bread machines are ok for kneading dough but then you have to take it out and use your hands otherwise you just end up with those strange tall unpleasing looking loaves with a hole in the bottom. Clubs are funny things, this lot aren’t really a club, more a cluster of people who like to make bread, it’s not a fixed group at all, the only criteria is that you want to have a go :)

  3. Jan

    Me too, I’m so envious of your experience at the dough do and that lovely environment. I laughed out loud at Heidiannie’s experience with the machine bread ladies and a riot of comic strips was going on in my head of poor HA being chased to the door by the MBLs with their ire well and truly proofed! I love the names of your bread buddies it sounds so much like Lord of the Rings and I have an image of the barn as being in Hobbiton and of all of you round-and-rosy cheeked with flour up to your elbows – what lucky children too. Ah well, back to the real world. Here in Brisbane Summer is arm wrestling winter and spring is trying to mediate but drooping with the effort.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Jan, it was 8 degrees out this morning, on Wednesday it was 23 degrees. Arctic winds are sweeping in from the North. I love our weather! Thanks for the lovely comments, I have emailed you a link to the group photo blog, more than just my photos in there. :)

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