Whether it’s a stand-alone event or part of something wider, a Real Bread activity is a great way to bring people together. After all, the word companion comes from cum panis - Latin for ‘with bread’.
So, here are some suggestions from the Real Bread Campaign. You’re bound to come up with more ideas of your own, so please let us help share them with others. If you do try any, please let us know how you get on. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bread competitions
- Bread making
- Feasts and tastings
- Other ways of using Real Bread to get you noticed
What local event is complete without some sort of baking competition? From village fete, to harvest festival, to food fair, inviting people to roll up their sleeves and make a loaf is a great way to get people joining in a friendly competition with tasty results.
Whether you have public or closed judging is up to you, though watching people nibble on twenty different loaves for an hour is perhaps a spectator sport for die-hard bread fans only.
- A flour show - Real Bread making competition for home bakers
- Festival loaf competition between professional Real Bread bakers at an event
Bread competition notes
Here are some thoughts from Andy Forbes of the Brockwell Bake Association, which since 2008 has held an annual bread making competition in Lambeth, south London.
- tailor the scope and nature of your competition to your area and people you know beforehand will participate
- avoid a professional section unless you are absolutely certain of what you are doing. However maybe if there is a specific local product you can think about running a public judging thing (buy some samples and let public taste on the day) - but then you can't expect pro bakers to sponsor etc
- avoid competitive things with kids unless very specifically tailored for them e.g. decorating top of fairy cake, tears fairly guaranteed otherwise
- tailor the number of categories/winners to anticipated entry numbers. Avoid classes that are too tight and specific (e.g. class for baguette, class for cholah loaf, class for malt loaf etc.) unless you have a regional recipe you want to highlight. Otherwise, if you’re expecting up to about two dozen entries, keep it more generic e.g. white bread, brown or wholemeal bread, cakes and pastries. If you think that you are likely to have more entries or will have enough entrants for something more specific, you could add in categories for sourdough, fancy breads, split the brown and wholemeal categories etc.
- cash prizes are not that much appreciated. Better some nice trophies and certificates. Doesn't have to be expensive these were about £5 a piece to produce I think. Just got this for £1 + postage.
- if you are able, have a mix of professional bakers and interested amateurs as judges. Easiest system is for judges to come to a consensus of how many points out of five to award for different aspects of each loaf (e.g. taste, crust, crumb texture, appearance) and then add up for each entry. Having a "Clerk to the Judges" is very important, to keep scores and notes, then ensure details are passed to whoever is making the announcements and that prizes/certificates are in order for presentation.
- try and make sure entries are nicely displayed and public has time to view before and after judging
- Link up with relevant local businesses as sponsors and judges, pro bakers, millers, restaurateurs, delis etc
For more information on the Brockwell Bake Association, visit brockwell-bake.org.uk
Here are some ideas that the gang in the Sustain office came up with after a quick brainstorm.
- Favourite family recipe
- Something with a local theme – a local traditional recipe, perhaps, or using locally milled flour, barm from a real ale brewery etc.
- The loaf that represents yourself, either physically or personality – e.g long and thin, light and airy etc.
- A loaf to celebrate an historic event
- The 'Ugly Duckling' award – a loaf that won’t grace the cover of any foodie magazines but still tastes great
- Bread with ingredients that tell the most interesting story (e.g. local history, personal/family history, cultural, local economy, provenance, etc.) - people would be judged as much on the story they provide with the loaf as the loaf itself
- Best "first loaf" - i.e. for real beginners - challenge people to bring along their first (or early) attempt - could be kids or adults
- Bread you'd normally only ever buy – flatbreads, bagels etc.
- Group loaf- e.g. scout troop, WI, bridge club, school class
- Best honey loaf you highlight the plight of bees – the honey either as a flavouring or as a raising agent (as in honey and salt leavening)
- Best sausage butty using homemade bread
- Best leftover bread recipe – e.g. B&B pudding, panzanella, pain perdu, brown bread gnocci
- A loaf that represents your favourites film, TV show, comic or activity
- Alien loaves
- Animal loaves
And one for non-bakers…
Best use of factory bread – e.g. using it like modelling clay to sculpt model animals – something that proves that even though it’s not worth eating, it might have other uses. To prevent food waste, there should be a rule that the end product should either be useful/decorative enough to be kept or still in a state that can be fed to pigs or ducks – if that doesn’t constitute animal cruelty.
Some Real Bread making class – for kids, adults or both together:
- Making flatbreads, plaits animals and other small, quick-to-bake shapes with kids. This can be done using dough that has been
- Bread and jam – bread making day with music (either as entertainment or a workshop) whilst the dough is proving
- Trencher feast – bake trenchers, then enjoy a shared meal off them
- Breads of the world – if your local community has a mixed national/cultural heritage, hold an event to taste (an even learn to make) the breads from those roots. While you’re at it, you might also want to throw in some of the other food, music and dance to make it a feast or full-on festival.
- A local Real Bread tour – if you’re lucky enough to have a wheat grower, traditional mill and Real Bread baker, you could even follow the whole journey from seed to sandwich
- A talk from a local Real Bread baker, perhaps including a tasting of different breads and/or a demo of bread making skills
- What other small independent producers do you have nearby? Team up for a talk and feast of Real Bread and: real ale, cheese, sausages or whatever of the finest local produce
Other ways of using Real Bread to get you noticed by local shoppers and media (therefore more local people)
- Revive a local traditional loaf recipe to bake
- A harvest festival with Real Bread as the star of the show
- Join in with national activities, such as Local Loaves for Lammas and Real Bread Maker Week
Depending on the type and size of your event, there are a variety of sources from which you might be able to attract funding or sponsorship. Here are just a few thoughts.
- Town/district/regional council
- Local/regional tourist board
- One of the eight regional food groups
- Local businesses
- Local chamber of commerce
- Local media (e.g. newspaper or radio station)
- Other local trade organisations
- European Regional Development Fund / European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
Rather than giving you cash, some businesses or organisations might be able to provide support in kind i.e. goods or services at no (or greatly discounted) cost. Examples could include:
- a local printer making your posters and other promotional material
- office space to use when organising the event
- staff to help you run the event
- a venue
- advertising/ advertising space for the event
- a locally-based celebrity lending their time (and importantly, their name) to the event
You could also look at the websites of events similar to the one you’re planning to see what sort of organisations and companies funded, sponsored or otherwise supported them.
Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.
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