Started Friday morning a bit different this week. At 8:30am I was at Sheffield’s Amphitheatre with a group of Sheffield locals for Creative Mornings – a series of breakfast lectures for creatives (https://creativemornings.com/). If you’ve never been to the Amphitheatre before (loads of people have no idea it exists!) I completely recommend it, they host great events and it’s a lovely open space with views of the city.
This month was hosted by Friends of Sheaf Valley Park and the charismatic Kim Swan who had us all giggling as she told us of her story and her passion for bread. She believes bread is the cornerstone of community and that through baking and eating, it can bring together people from all walks of life.
We gathered round, sharing homemade French bread (which had been baked in a traditional community wood-fired oven), tea, coffee and homemade jams. Strangers were quick to chat to one another, bonding over our community and their love of bread.
Kim told us tales of her time in Paris, where there would be local artisan bakers open from 6am to 9pm every day, and how in coming back to Sheffield she struggled with your bog-standard supermarket loaf! She decided the best way to get the bread she wanted was to make it herself. That way, you not only discover a new exciting skill, but you know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your food. Describing bread-making as somewhere between life-drawing and massage, it’s clear to see how, to her, bread is an art and something to become obsessed with as a creative outlet.
Baking up to four times a day, experimenting with different types, styles, heats, Kim has become somewhat of a connoisseur and her passion flowed out in the way she encouraged us to see bread as one of life’s essentials. It’s true – bread has been feeding communities for centuries, and it is the one food that you’ll find across all countries and races. Going to different countries and seeing how their bread is different to ours and what role is takes in people’s everyday lives is fascinating (and delicious!).
Last year, as part of The Year of Making, Kim and the Friends of Sheaf Valley Park received a grant to build a communal wood-fired oven, which would be used for bread-making classes, community use and for wonderful events like that of this morning. With the help of 36 people and 3 days hard work, the oven was constructed using traditional techniques and materials such as sand, straw and clay. It is now central to bringing the community together through baking, cooking and creativity.
We rounded off the lecture with the opportunity to bake our own pittas breads. Being surrounded by like-minded people in a green space in the city, whilst baking and tasting fresh breads… well it was better than my usual morning routine! Kim also told us that they put on bread-making classes so if you are interested, reach out to them (they are a very friendly bunch!). I’ve put their Twitter handle at the bottom of the post.
Thanks to Creative Mornings Sheffield (@CM_Sheffield) and Friends of Sheaf Valley Park (@FOSVPSheffield) for putting this on – it was interesting and delicious and really showcased how food can bring people together.
Have a great weekend everyone! I think me and August will be trying to make our own dough this weekend 🙂