The Real Bread Campaign, part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming,
is funded by the Big Lottery's Local Food programme and the Sheepdrove Trust.
The Real Baker-e is the online forum in which Real Bread Campaign members can ask for, and share, ideas and advice.
At present, more than 400 Campaign members are registered to use The Real Baker-e, including our ambassadors Richard Bertinet, Aidan Chapman, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, Tom Herbert and Andrew Whitley.
As a benefit for all Campaign members, quite deliberately this is a place in which there are no boundaries between amateur and professional Real Bread bakers – or people who never bake at all!
When you joined the Campaign, we sent you an invitation to join The Real Baker-e via Yahoo! Groups, which hosts the forum. Simply follow the instructions and get posting. If you didn't take up this invitation at the time, drop us an email and we'll send you another so that you can access the forum.
If you are not yet a member of the Campaign, then please join us today!
'How do I stop getting an email every time someone posts a message?'
To receive all Real Baker-e posts from the day in a single email:
Alternatively, you can choose the 'no email' option, but this means you'll have to log into the group every time you want to read Real Baker-e message posts and could miss messages that are of interest to you.
One very useful function is the opportunity to ask for advice from hundreds of your fellow members. Amongst them are our Bakers' Angels: some of the most experienced and respected bakers in the country. This heavenly host includes: Paul Barker - (Cinnamon Square), Troels Bendix (The Hungry Guest), Richard Bertinet - (The Bertinet Kitchen), Peter Cook - (SC Price), John Downes (Shipton Mill), Emmanuel Hadjiandreou (The School of Artisan Food), Tom Herbert (Hobbs House Bakery), Clive Mellum (Shipton Mill), Vincent Talleu (The Artisan Bakery) Andrew Whitley (Bread Matters)...
Many conversations are prompted by questions from people who are on the road to helping bring Real Bread back to the hearts of their local communities. From the best thing to use to grease tins, to accounting spreadsheets, to sourdough troubleshooting, to requests for second-hand equipment, to bakery exchange visits, to the law on handwashing sinks – all of these have been asked and answered in the forum.
But The Real Baker-e is not just for microbakers and people involved in Community Supported Bakeries! Questions and answers also come from people who bake Real Bread for themselves at home, high street bakers, millers, baking equipment suppliers, scientists and people who simply care about the state of bread in Britain, to name just a few of the diverse types of Campaign members we have.
Here are just some of the things that people said in March 2012 about The Real Baker-e as a meeting place between different sorts of Campaign members:
I think the pros are very helpful and patient with us amateurs. If we had a separate forum, would we benefit from their experience and wisdom?
Being asked questions about what I do has always had the benefit of me questioning why I do it like that. If the amateurs don't mind putting up with a bit of trade talk, then I'm sure us professionals don't mind answering basic bread making questions.
I really enjoy reading the professional comments, even though some don't apply to me. I always learn something and file information that may be helpful in the future e.g. mixers and ovens.
I was once an amateur bread baker, who now is a professional baker owning a bakery in my home town. Without groups like this, and the Bread Bakers Guild of America, that are a mix of professional and enthusiastic serious home bakers, I would never have been able to open my own place. The knowledge the professionals bring and the questions asked are of benefit to all.
Together with three other volunteers, I am part of a bread circle. I am definitively not a professional (though I get asked occasionally to bake in a commercial context) but I do sit most comfortably on the fence between the professionals and the home bakers.
Days when the ongoing discussions are beyond my needs or interest, but I note that when questions are asked by novices, they are answered with equal respect and enthusiasm by the experienced bakers in the group. There is a wealth of skill and experience, and a willingness to share.
I enjoy the mix on this forum. Everyone is very free with their help and advice when anyone has a problem, whether they are professionals or home bakers. To be honest, I wouldn't be interested in a forum that was just for home bread makers. There are plenty of those on the Internet already. I dream one day that I might be a 'professional' and will find the information helpful but I still find a lot of it interesting in the meantime.
As a home baker for fun and nutrition I try and bake two loaves a week. I work over 45 hours a week but enjoy reading the posts to increase my knowledge. It's about our shared love of Real Bread, not merely a forum that centres on any particular aspect of it.
As an amateur with semi-professional aspirations I love the forum. We seem to be the audience for whom Knead to Know was intended - both the book and forum seem perfectly pitched to me.
I would feel embarrassed to join a professional forum but benefit so much from hearing tips, tricks, and discussions at all levels. If you ask a question as a complete beginner, no-one will howl you down and you will get answers, I guess because everyone has been there.
I really like the atmosphere created by the mix in this group, too. I am technically a professional but only because I found myself suddenly working in a bakery - no real practical experience - so the mix of questions and advice is really helpful to me.
It is because of this site that I am now in the final stage of setting up a professional small bakery Unbuntu Handmade Bread. The support from the groups is invaluable to me. Let us continue this sharing tradition.
I am 'professional' in that I make a 'living' from baking but working alone and learning as I go. I would say it is more of a vocation, which is a happy mix of continual learning and love of the process. That doesn't need the label amateur or professional.
We are all here to learn and build experience; no one has the ultimate ‘truth’ whatever his or her background, profession, vocation! So let’s interact with all of us as much as possible and continue to learn and love the process indeed!
I feel so lucky that I am able to read this. As we are planning to set up a microbusiness, having beginners’ questions answered by experienced bakers is a huge privilege.