Bake With Jack: A Delicious Collaboration

Bake with Jack is run by chef Jack Sturgess, who is passionate –  not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We were delighted to see that, not only did he make these gorgeous looking pumpkin doughnuts, he also gave us a recipe for a beetroot and spelt focaccia!

We’re sharing the recipe with you – please, please remember that this method is expertly put together to make it simple and enjoyable enough for you to try at home! So please do – try it with your children this weekend, or stay out of the pub and in the kitchen one cold evening this week and treat yourself!

Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so gorgeous!

 

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Beetroot and Spelt Focaccia

So, thanks to some deliciously earthy and sweet beetroots from Greener Greens I have developed a focaccia to celebrate their beautiful colour and delicate flavour.

Spelt is an ancient grain, and this recipe used quite a large proportion of wholemeal spelt flour to make a real comforting and wholesome bread. To get the best flavour and colour from the beetroots, I wrapped one yellow and one purple individually in tin foil and baked in the oven at for an hour, until a knife can be easily pushed into the centre.

Wait a while before peeling, but keep them in the tin foil. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze them out of the tin foil leaving their skins behind, then rub off any bits that are still there.

This recipe will make one focaccia.

 

Difficulty: Easy

3 hours

 

Ingredients

For the dough

350g       Wholemeal Spelt Flour

150g       Strong White Bread Flour

10g          Salt

12g          Fresh Yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dry easy bake yeast

330g       Room Temperature Water

20g          Olive oil

 

For the topping

2 cooked beetroots (see above)

4tbsp     Olive Oil

4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked

Maldon sea salt flakes

 

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Method

  1. Place a large bowl on your scales and weigh out your white flour. Zero the scales and weigh your wholemeal flour on top, and then do the same with the salt.
  2. Weigh your room temperature water into a jug. If you are using fresh yeast, pop it into the water to dissolve before moving on to step 4. Or, your 7g sachet of dry yeast can be popped into the bowl with the flour.
  3. Pour the yeasty liquid into the bowl, add the olive oil and use a dough scraper to mix everything together. When it all comes together into a relatively firm dough, turn it out onto the table.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes on a clean surface, without dusting with any flour. If the dough makes a mess on the table, bring everything back together with the flat side of your dough scraper as you go along.
  5. Next, with the slightest dusting of flour on the table, shape the dough into a ball, and place it back into the bowl. Dust the dough’s surface lightly, and cover the bowl with a clean cloth. Allow 60-90 minutes for your dough to rest and rise, developing flavour and texture.
  6. While your dough rests you can get to work making your topping. Slice your beetroots into rounds about 3mm thick. If you’re using one purple and one yellow beetroot like I did, slice them into separate bowls. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of each, chop your rosemary leaves roughly and sprinkle them over too. Mix up each bowl and leave to marinade.
  7. Prepare yourself a tray for the next part. You’ll need one that’s roughly 35cm by 25cm, lined with a piece of parchment paper and drizzled with olive oil.
  8. When your dough has puffed up nicely, transfer the dough ball onto your oiled tray. Press with your fingertips to spread the dough out really well.
  9. Now arrange your beetroot all over the top, pushing pieces down into the dough with your fingertips, and pour the remaining herb oil over the top.
  10. Rest the dough, uncovered for 45-60 minutes, and at some point during this time, preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/Gas Mark 5 with an empty deep tray in the bottom
  11. When you are ready to bake, boil a kettle of water, and sprinkle your sea salt over the top or your dough.
  12. Carefully place your focaccia into the oven, pour about 1cm deep of water from the kettle into the hot tray and shut the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Slide a knife underneath the focaccia and tip it up to peep underneath. When the focaccia is golden all over the base it is ready. If it’s still a little pale in the centre, bake for longer, 5 minutes extra at a time until it’s done.
  14. Transfer the focaccia to a wire rack, and drizzle well with olive oil. Leave to cool before tucking in!

 

 

You can find out more about Jack and what he does on his website, as well as getting more tips, recipes and advice – and we’d thoroughly recommend that you do!

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Our Growers: Tablehurst Farm

Chris has been volunteering and working with Tablehurst farm for twenty years. We’ve spoken to him about how the farm has developed since he first fell in love with it back in 1997.  If you’re ever near Forest Row in Sussex, be sure to stop by and visit their farm shop. (I KNOW that I shouldn’t tell you about it, but the farm is just so beautiful!)

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When did you get involved with Tablehurst Farm? What was your role then and how has that role developed?

In 1997 (approx.) I attended an open day at Tablehurst with my wife and two toddlers, and fell in love with the farm. What struck me was that this big event felt more like a gift to the community than an attempt to extract money (despite the fact that there was a cost to enter). It made it stand apart from other rural fairs and the like, and after that, I just stayed. I have been a member of the Co-op committee which owns the farm; chair of the Co-op committee for four years; a volunteer member of the Tablehurst management team for a couple of years; one of the organisers of a later open day, frequent participant in volunteer work days, walks, talks and a study group about biodynamic farming; newsletter editor for about ten years; and a customer throughout! I became a volunteer non-executive director of Tablehurst at the beginning of 2016, and then took a job at the farm in February of this year.

 

How would you describe Biodynamic in your own words, being around it all the time?

Tablehurst Farm strives to meet biodynamic standards in all of our farming and gardening. A biodynamic farm is viewed as a single, self-supporting organism. We seek to create and nurture a diverse farm ecosystem, to build long term soil fertility, to use our own manure and compost, to grow all our own animal feeds, and to minimise external inputs to the farm. Special preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm. In the long term, we hope to work towards self-sufficiency in energy supply as well.

Biodynamic farms recognise that a sustainable farm organism cannot be created and maintained without a strong focus on the social aspect as well as the agriculture. It is for this reason that biodynamic farms have been at the forefront of the community supported agriculture movement, which is of such central importance to both our farms. We aim to create healthy communities of workers on the farms, and to engage with the wider community of visitors, supporters, shareholders and customers who make a connection with the farms. For the same reason, we work hard to explain what we are doing, and why we are doing it, to as many people as possible.

 

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Do you see any evidence that customers and visitors’ attitudes have changed towards organic, locally grown food? 

Up to a point. Over the last five to ten years, we have seen huge growth in demand, but that has now levelled off, and in a way, we never meet anyone who isn’t committed to organic food, because they don’t come to Tablehurst! It is therefore quite hard for us to assess this.  My impression is that interest in organics has wandered up and down a bit – most people don’t actually know what it is anyway – but that interest in provenance and local supply is really strengthening.

 

I know that community is really important to you, what is the community at Tablehurst like?

We’ve been a community farm for over 20 years, so yes, quite important! The first community we attend to is the team who live and/orwork on the farm. We have several farming families living on site (and three now raising young children here) and we offer a free communal lunch to all staff every day to bring everyone together. We have three care home residents who live on site and work on the farm, in the garden and in our kitchens during the day. They are an integral part of Tablehurst. Connection with the wider community is a constant focus for us, and in fact it’s something I’m particularly focused on building in my new role. We had our Harvest Celebration last weekend which was focused on community engagement, and particularly in creating opportunities for people to connect with the farm by volunteering their time and/or by becoming shareholders in our Co-op. We also want to substantially extend our engagement with children and schools.

 

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We’re hearing a lot about how people should buy local to support their local farmers and farmland. Your local community must be really important to you – could you survive without their custom, and is it an equal relationship in that you both help each other?

We have customers who travel from London and the south coast to shop at Tablehurst, but our customer base is very predominantly local, and we couldn’t possibly survive without our local customers. We are constantly working to build community through mutually beneficial events and activities such as our lambing days, open days, farm walks and barn dances. We do have to charge for some events, but even then they aren’t particularly profit-focused, and quite a number of events at Tablehurst are free. We also offer open access to the farm at all times and encourage people to wander around and see what they can learn.

We recently set aside some land for community allotments, which are now all being actively cultivated. We have a kids club at Tablehurst where (mostly home-schooled) local children spend a regular day on the farm doing supervised practical work. We have also supported other local farmers and growers and have been instrumental in the birth of two other biodynamic farms in our local area.

 

How have the values of organic and animal welfare on Tablehurst farm developed over that time, and have their been any dramatic changes over the way your produce is grown over that time?  

Our farming is constantly changing and developing, but the biodynamic ideal has always been the central goal, so animal welfare was, and remains, a top priority. A particular challenge of biodynamic farming is the aim that the farm should be self-sustaining, with as few external inputs as possible. This means that we should, ideally, be growing all our own animal feed. We don’t manage this yet, but are right now involved in some important experiments to dramatically alter the balance. An even more important theme, because it is fundamental to all farming, is caring for the soil so as to create a living, balanced, healthy soil with high humus content. This is a very complex subject, but one that David, our farm director is (rightly) obsessed with. Soil humus sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, so increasing humus levels not only creates a healthy, fertile growing medium, it also combats climate change. Vegetable growing at Tablehurst has come and gone, then come again over the years, but now I think it is definitely with us to stay, and we hope to continue growing a wide range of vegetable for the foreseeable future.

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You can find out more about Tablehurst on their video below, or by visiting their website.

This week our produce from them includes beautiful Oakleaf lettuces, kale, Red Kuri squash (perfect for soup), spaghetti squash and a variety of gorgeous red peppers.