Gus Dow and his No Knead Bread - Shetland Food Fair 2015

by Elizabeth Atia -

The upcoming Shetland Food Fair running from the 30th of October to the 1st of November at the Clickimin Centre in Lerwick is promising to be a fantastic one, and there are a whole range of demonstrators on throughout the weekend for you to learn some cooking tips, ask questions and taste test the final results.

In this, the first of a series of interviews featuring the individuals demonstrating at the fair, we meet Gus Dow, amateur bread maker with a passion for artisan techniques.

Respect the chemistry!

Q. When did your passion for breadmaking begin?

A. I started baking bread about 5 years ago. We got a breadmaker which produced pretty good fresh bread (all fresh bread is pretty good, especially at 10am on a Sunday morning!) I then moved on to using the dough cycle on the machine and baking in the oven until I progressed to kneading and baking the dough myself.

Q. What are your inspirations when it comes to bread making?

A. My inspiration was initially, "why can't I make a loaf as good as my machine?!" After a bit of research on the Internet (The Fresh Loaf is a good website), I was blown away by the quality of bread and knowledge of people around the world baking fantastic loaves in their own home. Everyone seemed to have experienced the same problems as I had as a novice, and there was a mountain of help and wisdom out there.

Q. What's your favourite Shetland-produced ingredient and why?

A. My favourite Shetland ingredient is the weather! Without which I probably would never have progressed from reading about baking bread to actually making it. A force 8 gale with rain or a good few inches of snow is a great incentive to stay at home and make great bread rather than venture to the shop to buy some. We have an unheated utility room at the side of our kitchen which is great for a long, slow rise which gives the loaf a good flavour.

Q. Do you have any advice for people thinking to start making their own bread?

Anyone can make fantastic bread at home. All you need is an oven, a few ingredients and a bit of pratice (Youtube is a great teacher!). once you get the hang of it, you will, as they say, never look back !

Q. What will you be demonstrating at the Shetland Food Fair, and why?

A. My passion is sourdough bread, and at the Shetland Food Fair, I will be demonstrating how to start and maintain a sourdough starter, demonstrating a variety of kneading techniques with different doughs. And I would hope to inspire some people who think bread-making isn't for them, or who think they don't have time to incorporate bread-making into their busy lives with an easy no-knead bread recipe.

When I think what inspired me, firstly the Manna House Bakery in Edinburgh comes to mind. I could never walk down Easter Road without stopping off to pick up some decent bread on my way home. Also, spending a weekend at the River Cottage in Devon learning how to make an outdoor bread oven has certainly inspired me to build one in the garden hopefully next summer (but I said that last year !)

As a novice bread-maker I was inspired by Shetland's James Morton whose book Brillant Bread is a really good place to start and inprove your skills but also Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and cookery shows such as the GBBO, River Cottage, etc. As previously mentioned, the Internet is a great source of inspiration just put in a type of bread you fancy making and there are plenty of people will have posted recipes or blogs detailing how they went about it and websites such as The Fresh Loaf or even Youtube are always good for tips, trouble-shooting and searching for weekend bread-making projects!

Gus will be demonstrating his bread making techniques at the Shetland Food Fair on Saturday at 2:30 pm and Sunday at 1:30 pm. Times are subject to change so do keep an eye out on the Shetland Food Fair Facebook page for the final details. You can also follow the Shetland Food Fair on Twitter. Use the hashtag #ShetlandFoodFair so we can see what you're enjoying at the Fair!

No Knead Bread

Course: Main

Servings: 1 loaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients
  • strong bread flour - 430 grams
  • salt - 8 grams
  • instant dried yeast - 1 gram
  • lukewarm water - 340 grams
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients together to form a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Leave the dough to rise, covered, for 12 to 18 hours until it has doubled in size and is covered in bubbles.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and leave it to rise, covered,P for a further hour or two.
  4. Preheat a cast iron pot to 230 C. When the bread has risen, drop it into the pot, pop the lid on and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid of the pot and bake for a further 15-30 minutes, until the crust is lovely and golden.
  6. Remove the bread from the pot and leave to cool for at least an hour before eating.
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