The bantams go to the church fete

Our local church decided to expand their normal harvest festival with the addition of a rather grandly-titled “Autumn Food Fayre and Farmers Market”. It sounded like a good cause, so we (well, I, actually) volunteered to do a display of rare-breed chickens, and to bake some bread for their cake’n’bread stall.

The stated objective was to raise money for charity. I don’t know exactly how much they raised, but if it was a couple of hundred quid*, I’d be surprised. So that’s a fail, then. But everyone concerned seems to be delighted. It was, apparently, a “great community event”. So I too will accentuate the positive, and agree that there were plenty of visitors, and that a good time was had by all.

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For the birds, we put up a fruit cage and wrapped it round with electric fence against dogs, although we didn’t connect the fence to the power supply. We put netting over the top, just in case of birds of prey, but left the sides open so that people could take photos. Even with groundspikes hammered in, the structure was a bit wobbly, so we put guy-ropes in each corner. It stood up to a number of visitors blundering into the poles, so by the end of the afternoon it was leaning a bit, but it stayed the course.

And, to be fair, those with dogs did keep them tightly leashed.

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Apart from getting ready for the bantam display, during the week I’d prepared two batches of sourdough starter, white and rye, building it up so we had plenty to dip into on Saturday, which was baking day. We did a 2:1 wheat rye yeasted sourdough, a 1:1 wheat rye sourdough only, and a white wheatflour sourdough. We were aiming for 8 loaves from each batch, to give 24 in total.

Well, the first one baked up beautifully, giving us 9 loaves. The second looked pretty good, yielding 7 loaves. The third was a disaster. I don’t know whether I over-hydrated it – possible since I was using an unfamiliar flour – or under-proved it, or whether the starter had picked up an unpleasant yeast and had gone bad ways. The loaves collapsed to a chewy flatbread in the oven, and transferring the dough into tins didn’t help them to spring.

So as a rescue operation, I made a small batch of ordinary yeasted split tin loaves, 50:50 white and wholemeal. They looked pretty good, and made the total up to 20, which wasn’t too shabby.

We presented them nicely in a large wicker basket and a proper bread crate, so they looked appealing. Jean sensibly insisted that they be priced at £2 each, which caused a certain amount of consternation. Anyway, they all sold.

ETA: * They made £233.30, apparently. So I wasn’t too far off the mark.

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