We thought we’d take an opportunity as 2017 comes to a close for us to collate some of the stand out events over this past year, a kind of report or debrief if you like. This has without doubt, been the most eventful year in the history of e5.
It began with the tragic news that our colleague, Will, had passed away as a result of a stroke. After years of being a professional musician with the Bonfire band, Will joined e5 having honed his baking skills at home. Like many e5 bakers he learnt his trade on the job, exploring fermentation and becoming passionate about the possibility of re-localising the grain supply chain, stone milling and heritage cereals. Will was an inspirational teacher, sharing his knowledge with hundreds of students, many of whom would contact the bakery after the course to tell what a moving day they had experienced. Will took an interest in everyone. He soon found out what made people tick and cared deeply about how we were doing. His highly intelligent and quirky sense of humour, his Irish (and other) accents are irreplaceable. We mourned collectively through a small service at e5 and later in the year came together with his wider family and friends to remember him in company. The Bakehouse will forever be indebted to his creativity and vigour.
You may have come across the book The Third Plate by the American chef Dan Barber of BlueHill Farm and restaurant. The book encourages cooks to reconsider the traditional meat and two veg concept and shift to a style of cooking which reflects a sustainable food system. As fans of the chef’s approach we were delighted to be appointed to create a range of new recipes which utilised food waste for their pop-up WasteED at Selfridges. We made bread from the husks of peas, from waste beer (I know hard to believe such a thing exists), even old bread was reconstituted and turned back into fresh loaves. It was a great challenge and we hope the awareness will drive more food business to recognise food waste as the opportunity it is. Keep an eye out for WasteED specials on the shelves next year, as well as a new soft drink we have on offer. Kvass is a delicious and refreshing fermented drink we make with old bread and sourdough starter (we know it sounds gross, but it isn’t!)
Last March we had an amazing two weeks in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain, offering students the chance to explore a range of recipes & fermentation methods, in the splendour of Las Alpujarras. Almond blossom was out, foraging for wild asparagus, wood fired pizza adventures and trips to the local bodega kept everyone occupied, but there was still plenty of time for chilled out walks along the shepherds paths. We’ll be returning again next March.
After a couple of arduous research trips to the north and south of France to meet different manufacturers of an Astrier style mill, we settled on a one metre diameter stone mill from Samuel Poliane. Samuel drove the mill over from Brittany and set it up in our new Millhouse. We are currently milling a tonne of organic wheat every week which comes Stuart Roberts of Hammonds End Farm, Hertfordshire. We commissioned another Hertfordshire farmer, Oscar, to grow e5’s own heritage ‘Fellows’ blend of ancient wheat which we blend into the Hackney wild dough.
This year we ran our fifth Just Bread programme in collaboration with the Refugee Council. Every group receives training in all apsects of e5’s work; churning butter, making jam, cakes, coffee and of course bread. The intention is to create a great environment for the students to interact, share experiences and acquire some new skills, often with the intention of finding new work. We felt that a new enterprise was called for to celebrate the course and the graduates, so we opened a new café, in Poplar, East London. We’ve intertwined another simmering passion from the team at e5, which is coffee, and have begun to roast our own beans there. Hence the name, e5 Roasthouse! As at e5, we’re open every day of the week, and serve a daily lunch usually involving flatbreads which we bake on the hearth. The coffee is roasted in small Giesen roaster and delivered to the Bakehouse several times a week. This has given us the opportunity to bring new skills in-house and along with the flatbread production, to lend a healthy splash of industry to the new site.
At our small farm is Suffolk the fields have been in a period of organic conversion and regeneration. A ley crop of clover, chicory and vetch are all working to re-establish a healthy soil structure. In addition we have worked hard developing a market garden to supply the Bakehouse with some fresh vegetables, and which has given an opportunity in the future for the Bakehouse team to get their hands into the earth.
Looking forward to next year we’re excited to launch several new classes, including an evening flatbread and mezze class at the e5 Roasthouse, and a day jaunt to visit organic farmers to learn about the methods they employ growing in an organic rotational system, and the processing of the grain post-harvest. This will be followed by a trip to a traditional water mill.
At the Bakehouse, the milling infrastructure we have been dreaming of will finally be installed. We will have the capacity to hold 4 different grain varieties in hoppers with an auger system, thus allowing grists to be blended, and with a superb cleaning system. Our flour will be made with the cleanest possible grain!
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We wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas, all power for 2018 and THANK YOU so much for your support.
Ben, Jess, Ed, Eyal and all at e5.