Sometime you get a vision for something, and no matter if it takes a few years you’ve just got to create it. My vision was to combine a number of things which were difficult in themselves into a spectacular loaf of amazing bread. I grew up near the Ridgeway and as a toddler walked the windy flintstone laden hills and saw the mystical and ancient White Horse of Uffington before I could even speak. I ate bread made by my mother with flour grown around those hills, milled at Wessex Mill in the nearby market town of Wantage. We moved away, I grew up, went to University and became a scientist – returning to the shire to research plant sciences at the University Oxford, then became a project manager, then CEO and built a small company. To help de-stress from my executive role I began to take baking courses, returning to Wantage to run a course by the founder of the Natural Bread Company.
Many courses later, I drove near the Ridgeway to the Berkshire Downs to spend my 44th Birthday at Syd Aston’s Aston’s Bakehouse. There is something about those hills. It might be that because I was partially deaf as a toddler, certain images were seared into my memory, with the the texture of crumbly limestone between my fingers vs. the hardness of the flintstone strewn across the Ridgeway. A few weeks after spending the day at Aston’s I took my young family to see the White Horse of Uffington. With every passing month, I was identifying and solving the remaining problems in achieving the vision I’d have of my ultimate miche, and discovering how to overcome limitations with my own sourdough bread making. The feedback from giving my loaves away was becoming so positive, I got the feeling I could sell my bread. I should call it the “White Horse Bakehouse”, linked to my own childhood – but at up to 3,500 years old the reference to the White Horse signifies a return to earlier principles.
We are returning to purity in bread because of the crap that the large baking corporates are adding to your children’s food. Crap like calcium proprionate (sold as “Probake CP” and “CrystalPro”) which on packaging on UK supermarket bread is described as inhibiting mould growth. According to a review in LiveStrong, a peer-reviewed research paper published in the Journal of Pediatric Medicine in 2002 describes the results of a clinical trial in which they found propionate induces “irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children – ie. causes behavioural issues and suffering. A large loaf might contain 4g of this nasty. Funnily enough, my sourdough doesn’t tend to ever mould – it just gets dry.
Just because you can’t prove it kills you, doesn’t mean you should allow it in your food. If you wouldn’t eat a spoonful of it in one sitting, don’t eat a spoonful of it in your lifetime. If it isn’t food, don’t add it to your food. Purity over poison.
In the West, we only stopped using wood-fired brick ovens in the last 100 years – so I built such an oven in my yard – to know first hand how the best bread should taste. I will not use artificial additives. I will use stoneground flour, I will shape by hand, I will use unrefined salt, I will bake on stone, I will use organic flour in my bread, everything will be of this Earth – but should taste like nothing on this planet. Convenience is killing us. We’ve got to stop treated industrial fakefood as if it was something to eat.
The polar opposite of sourfaux is the Golden White Horse Miche pictured, weighing in at 2kg, painstakingly decorated with 24 carat edible gold leaf, the dough prepared over several days to a unique proprietary recipe including a secret combination of five of the best flours sourced from artisanal UK millers and unrefined sea salt from Brittany, France.
So the Golden White Horse Miche incorporates the long method, the total absence of convenience, with more class than other gold food. If you are interesting in ordering this very special loaf, and if money is no object, get in contact via email@example.com