A unique social experiment to unite a community through bread. Renovation continues apace at the mill, but a major setback throws everything into disarray.
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There was a time when a mill and a bakery
were at the heart of every town and village in the country,
a focal point bringing communities together.
Today, it's a packaged sliced loaf for most of us,
but in our push for convenience,
have we lost a lot more than just taste?
People always used to bake together,
they used to go into each other's houses because everybody's doors were open,
and all of that has gone from our society, largely.
We're going to see if teaching
a group of total beginners how to bake...
Some person has cooked my bowl and made a hole in the bottom.
..can not only ignite a passion...
How about that one?
..but help to persuade others how great real bread can be.
The ambition is to get an ancient water mill up and running,
and use the flour that it grinds to set up a community-run bakery.
It'll be a massive task,
so we're providing two award-winning artisan bakers
to steer them in the right direction.
-Look at that.
-The light should pass through it.
Will the group be able to work together?
Everyone's pulled out apart from Rosie, myself and Valerie.
And will they really be able to change lifelong bread habits?
No, I don't want these fancy breads, at all.
If they can make it work,
it could spell a whole new way of life for this community.
Wow. Look at this.
It's so scary, oh! It's just got to work, to be honest with you.
Do you want to watch, as I reveal my glorious bread?
-I was trying to think of something nice...
-Ooh, that's a nice pair!
Sorry, had to be said.
Now, this is disgusting.
It's been three months since this group of Yorkshire women came together
to form a community baking team.
Here's to an evening of bread making.
The group is made up of mothers, midwives,
a teacher and a curate, Cath Vickers.
Don't be too shy, just give it a bit of welly.
They have nothing in common except an interest in their local community and a love of bread.
-I'm going to guess at tablespoons now.
-Are you ready?
So far, our group has gone from being complete novices...
..to getting a feel for the reality of life as a baker.
I did it. You're lovely.
With their passion for baking aroused, artisan bakers Patrick and Duncan
presented them with their very first challenge.
To make bread that's good enough to sell.
In a few weeks' time, you're going to have your first stall,
where you are going to be selling your own produce.
Since then, the group have been meeting regularly
to get their baking skills up to scratch.
Making it, we've discovered, is so much fun, and it's physical,
and you put yourself into a loaf.
Everyone rushes around so much and there's no head space,
there's no sort of opportunity to just be.
And I think that's one of the nice things, it gives you that time and space.
I don't know, there is something quite mystical about it in a way, it just makes you open up,
it just connects you somehow,
which is a bizarre thing to say about the mixture of flour and water
and yeast, but it's true.
Thank you, cheers.
I think there is something a lot deeper about bread.
I remember with my grandmother when I was a kid, my mum made bread with her nan.
There's something quite joining about it, doing it together.
It's much better doing it together than doing it on your own.
-It sounds very hollow.
-Like a little maze.
-Yeah, it does sound hollow.
-Do you think?
Can I just say, well done, everybody. I think this is fab.
With basic bread making skills under their belt, the group are now ready to expand their repertoire.
I think we're just outstandingly clever.
In Bath, Patrick and Duncan are busy putting together a range of recipes that the group could sell.
It's all about giving them a basic introduction to bread,
and kind of showing them how simple and easy it can be.
It's just flour, it's water, a little bit of salt,
a little bit of yeast, and that's it.
In its simplest form, that's all it needs to be.
We've made it really clear that just turning out their sort of beginners,
kind of...not beginners, that's a bit of a harsh word,
but their sort of starter kind of range of loaves isn't just going to be enough,
and they need to kind of think out of the box,
and try and come up with products that's going to generate them a lot of interest.
And that's where Patrick kind of came up with this idea
of these crunchy bread sticks.
It's rolling the dough nice and thin, and season it.
We've got some paprika sprinkled on these,
they go in the oven about 150, 160 degrees,
until they've slowly cooked, and gone nice and crispy.
The other thing Patrick's got going on is he's really trying to encourage the group
to work on something that's local to them, something nice and traditional.
What better than kind of a traditional Yorkshire teacake?
A teacake is pretty much kind of a sweet, enriched bun, really.
What we've done with this one is we've actually used
some of our mincemeat from Christmas.
You can see it's quite soft, and quite elastic,
because you want a really nice soft dough.
Then, at the very last minute, drop in your mincemeat.
Reason being, especially if you're doing it in a mixer, you don't want the mincemeat to stay together.
Then, all I'm going to do is simply portion it out into a nice, generous size.
Then quickly roll them, and they're set to prove again,
and simply bake them off.
Next time we're going to see them all,
Patrick's going to be running through these recipes,
and it's basically for their first paying market.
Throughout this journey, Patrick and I can do our best, but really,
when it comes down to it, and for this to kind of work sort of long
term, it's really a case that the hard work sort of starts with them.
At Crakehall, just outside Bedale,
renovation has recently begun on an ancient mill.
Everybody talks about it as a water mill, but it's a corn mill.
It produces flour, and that's what we're going to do.
Owner Lionel Green hopes that this mill can once again grind flour for the local community,
and be used by Cath and her baking group.
When you're ready.
Yeah, we're just taking out these woods.
He can't afford a full professional restoration,
so he's roped in best mate Pete, and some other friends, to help.
You can see from the marks in the wall that the wheel has run...
Hit the wall a few times.
..all over the place in the past.
Their first job is to get the water wheel turning,
but they've got their work cut out, as it's well and truly stuck.
It's five metres in diameter and weighs over five tons.
-Are you ready, Lionel?
Using a hydraulic jack,
Lionel and his team set about raising the wheel,
in order to clear the many years' worth of debris underneath.
The wooden buckets on the wheel are painstakingly repaired.
After three days of hard work, the wheel is finally set.
And for the first time in years, it actually turns.
-Go again, please.
-Oh, bloody hell.
The renovation may be powering ahead at Crakehall...
..but in Bedale, the bread group have been plunged into crisis,
and all bread making has come to a halt.
In all my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd end up moving South.
Yorkshire born and bred, that's me.
And yet when Geoff and I drove down to Warwickshire...to see,
the sun was out and it was a beautiful day.
I felt, at that moment, my mind being opened.
As a curate, Cath was effectively in training to become a vicar.
She had hoped to become one locally, but the church has decided to place her almost 200 miles south.
And so Jesus tells his disciples that he's going away, but he says,
"The Father will send the advocate, the Holy Spirit, in my name."
Cath has always been the bread group's driving force.
When they came together to make their first loaf of bread,
Cath was the only thing they had in common.
But she quickly changed all of that.
I will miss my friends, because we have become very good friends,
and I shall miss this, you know, seeing this develop.
But in a way, it's great, because it means, you know,
it gives it a whole new lease of life, in a way, it can go in ways that I don't do.
You know, it's not dependent on me, I wouldn't have thought,
so... I hope not, anyway.
Peace be with you.
Oh, Cath's going. It's just so upsetting.
Erm, but life goes on.
Cath has a new ministry.
Just think of all those lucky people who are going to have her.
We've lost her, but she's given us masses while she's been here.
And what she has given us, we've got to keep going.
We have to do it for her.
If I can be a fairy in a pantomime, you can do new things too.
The service over, there's just time for some final goodbyes.
-Lots and lots of love.
-Lots and lots of love.
And God bless. And all shall be well.
It shall be, I know.
And keep on kneading. Be kneady women.
Yeah, we do need to knead.
-I'll see you soon.
-Yeah, take care.
It's really strange. Really, really odd.
It'll be when we, it'll be when we've met a few times without her,
that's when it'll, it'll sink in, I think, won't it?
It will hit us, and we'll be very sad.
But we won't miss the noise, because she's very noisy.
I think as long as we keep the spirit of Cath with us,
we'll be all right.
But it's Cath who's always chivvied the group along,
-and now we need a replacement, Carol.
-Thank you very much.
This could actually be the best time for them.
As clergy, I really feel that the job is best done when you're not needed.
So, if I can disappear, and things still keep going on,
then I feel, you know, the job I've done has been OK.
With Cath gone, the bread group must refocus on the job in hand.
If they're going to open their community bakery, they have to start selling their bread to the public.
With a market just weeks away, they've got to get their act together.
A few days later, Carol Brown begins rallying the troops.
I had sent an email out to people who had been involved in the bread group
to say, "Just let me know what time you can give, we need to move forward
"and we need to know what we're moving forward with.
"Tell me how you're feeling, or what you think you can contribute."
And it was a bit like a house of cards just collapsing.
The emails were along the lines of, "I've had a brilliant time, really enjoyed it, but...
"this is my life and there isn't room for bread."
The group have yet to break the news to artisan baker Patrick,
who's just made the 250-mile journey from Bath.
He's arrived with some new recipes for them.
-How are you?
-I'm good, how's everybody?
All right. We can't do the 20th.
There's absolutely no way we can do the stall on the 20th. We don't have anybody.
Everyone's pulled out, apart from Rosie, myself, and Valerie.
-Rachel's pulled out.
-I have to, really. I have to, yeah.
Absolutely. That's it. There's not a blame thing at all. Everybody's got their own lives.
It's not that I want to. I have to.
There's... It's just not going to happen.
-How're you doing?
-'Good, how are you?'
-Er, not so good.
Yeah, I came in this morning, and they kind of go, er, "Oh, well, yeah, everyone's pulled out."
We'd stuff planned this morning, and it's just kind of walking in,
and it's like just getting, it's like getting punched in the stomach.
So, pretty much, we're kind of left with Carol, she's obviously got the kids and stuff to worry about,
as much commitment as she can make is limited.
And also, we've got Valerie and Rosie in.
'I mean, three is doable. I mean, look at what we achieved.'
Yeah, but, Duncan, we did 24 hour days and stuff.
There's no way any of them are going to do that. One of them is retired,
one of them has got kids.
'No, yeah, I get your point, OK.'
They're not going to be able to do this by themselves,
they need everyone else, and they need everyone involved.
So, it's a bit annoying that this is the way it's going to proceed.
Erm, like, if this is the way it goes on for the next weeks,
we might as well just forget about it,
and this farmers' market is not going to happen.
The bread group have hit rock bottom,
but work at the mill steams on regardless.
We're going to run the water mill for the first time, fingers crossed.
Today is the day that Lionel and Pete
plan to use water to drive the wheel for the first time.
The wheel is the most important piece of equipment in the mill,
and if anything goes wrong,
it could end Lionel's dream of getting the mill working.
-Yeah, got it.
To make sure they don't overdo it on their first attempt,
Lionel has erected a sandbag dam just in front of the wheel,
to limit the amount of water that can get through.
The mill gets its water from Crakehall beck,
which runs at the end of Lionel's drive.
It flows through a channel under the road into the millpond,
where it's stored.
When the sluice gate is opened, water floods through,
turning the water wheel.
What I'll do is, I'll ease a bit of water through,
and then close it back down again,
because that sudden amount of water will send it into motion.
Positions. Get a move on, Lionel.
-Are you ready?
-Ready when you are.
All hands clear?
OK. All the way.
Lovely. That's great.
A bit more.
It's going now, Lionel, on its own.
Oh, that is good.
Oh, hang on, the sandbags.
Have they gone through?
Lionel fears that if the sandbags get caught under the wheel,
the whole thing will grind to a halt.
No, stay away from it, Lionel. Lionel, stay away from it.
The only way he can stop the wheel is by turning off the water supply.
A bit too enthusiastic there.
Hang on, hang on, hang on.
Right, you're safe.
How exciting was that when it was banging on?
-Well done, everybody.
-Brilliant, well done.
Yes, we're happy, happy bunnies.
Now the wheel is running, they're one step nearer to their goal
of grinding flour at Crakehall once more.
With the baking group still down to just three members,
Patrick and Duncan think it's time for some drastic action if the group
are to achieve the ambition of setting up a community bakery.
Now is really the time when they need to build up their numbers.
They need to recruit.
They need to, you know, draw in some new volunteers.
And obviously, in order to sort of do that, you need contacts,
and you need someone with standing in the community,
and sadly, there is only one person who can do that, and that is Cath.
So, we are hoping that she is willing to get stuck in, one more time, sort of, into the fray,
and kind of get people involved, as we really need her to, really.
Following some discussions with Patrick and Duncan,
Cath has agreed to make a return visit to Bedale to help spearhead
a fresh recruitment drive for the baking group.
Just make sure you get that size eight hanger in.
They'll believe it if it's on the telly.
The minute it got professional,
I think there was a realisation at that point
that it was going to be a demanding project,
and that's really the point that we lost most people, I think.
What needs revisiting is why we started in the first place.
It's about having fun together, learning together,
and caring for our own community, and our own environment, and our families, and so on.
But it does need perhaps support...
to make certainly the community bakery thing possible.
Hello, is that Shona?
Hello, it's me! Do you like bread?
Do you like having fun?
Despite being down to just three members,
they, at least, are truly committed to the project.
And Duncan has been working closely with them in an attempt to keep moving forward.
Wholesome Bread Group.
What else have we got? Bedale Bread. Don't like that.
What's all of this?
We don't think that we can go any further without having a name.
-We need an identity, don't we?
-We do need an identity.
Good Honest Bread. The Good Bread Company. Bread And Better.
-I like that one.
The reason I like that one is because I think it's quite cocky.
-I like that one.
-We've done it.
-It works, doesn't it?
-Oh, I'm glad, because that was my favourite as well.
-Who came out with that?
As well as choosing a name, they've sorted out banners, new aprons,
and Patrick has come up with something
to really make the community bakery stand out from the crowd.
He wants to teach them how to make a traditional sour dough loaf.
Sour dough is probably the oldest process used to make bread.
Dates back centuries.
For this one, we're just going to add 200 grams of water.
To make a sour dough, you need a mix of flour and water,
called the starter mix.
Sometimes also affectionately known as the mother dough.
Patrick's starter has been fermenting for over two years.
-Have a good strong smell of it.
By adding this fermentation, which is the starter, the bread takes on a bigger depth of flavour,
much more open texture, amazing crust.
Sour dough breads can be left proving from six hours to upwards of two days
as it develops its flavour.
That's unbelievable, look at that, look at the way it's holding.
Look at that.
The reason I joined the bread project was just because it was Cath's.
It's ready now, a good hot oven.
I love her to bits and she's become a good friend.
If making bread and being part of a group completely went now,
I'd be very sorry about it, because we've come so far
and we've put so much time into it and we've got all these new skills,
and new friendships, and it's pushed us in directions
we would never have considered.
-Go for it.
-That's what we want to do.
-Just listen to that crack.
With everything in place, all they need now are some new group members.
After much ringing round, a group of potential new recruits has been invited to come along.
It's about broadening it, and making it more of a community feel
and, you know, having fun thing.
Oh, look, it says Community Bakery!
-We must go, then.
Cath is taking them to meet the few remaining members of the group.
Carol and Valerie have been told to host an introductory bread class.
But they've no idea just who is about to walk through the door.
You... Oh, Cath, you little terror!
Oh, you naughty girl!
I've brought some friends for you to join in.
If you've got aprons, fabulous. If not, we do have some prep aprons.
Like the original bread group five months ago, the new recruits are back at square one.
If you're not comfortable doing the... It needs to move as much as you can.
So, if you keep pushing it.
From a wide range of ages and experiences,
the group is comprised of farmers' wives, teachers, an ex-dinner lady, and some university graduates.
Really stretch it.
I enjoy baking. That's what I like to do on my days off.
I'll just do some baking today, what shall I bake?
Lucy is one of the youngest here today.
Community, to me, would mean being able to knock on your neighbour's door in a time of need,
being able to speak to the person on the street.
I find it very funny when I run to the gym in the morning and I'll just say good morning to someone,
and they're like, "Oh, hi," kind of thing.
They don't expect it from a younger person.
I think it's trying to change that mould of not all young people are horrible,
they can actually be quite nice to speak to, given half a chance.
It's really lovely that you've all turned up this afternoon, thank you very much.
It's so nice, Valerie, isn't it, not to be just the two of us here?
As much as I love Valerie, sometimes, we could do with just somebody else.
That's not what you told me!
You're just a troublemaker! Who invited you, anyway?!
The idea about the community bakery is that we are the heart of the community,
that bread is the most basic food that you get.
Everybody, everybody needs it, in whatever form.
But we want it to be part of the community in terms of people,
and this is where you guys come in, hopefully.
I make bread all the time at home, and it was the bread that interested me really,
and just learning what different techniques you use.
I would like very much to develop more community involvement.
Originally, I was involved in training, so I'm an NVQ assessor,
in particular for food production, so how's that?
I actually just really enjoy baking, and I think me, Becky and Sarah
are all quite different because we are quite young, and we enjoy baking,
and it doesn't really come, tend to come along that often.
I work at the farm, you know, I'm local, although I've been at uni for three years.
I find myself now graduated, I'm back in Bedale, and not a huge amount to do with my time.
It would be nice to get involved.
I like to know what's going on around Bedale, and meet everyone,
offer you a hand and learn something.
-That sounds fantastic.
-Give something back, as simple as that.
The fruits of your labour, ladies and gentlemen.
The first, very hot, straight from the oven.
It's really lovely. It's just worked out as we hoped, really.
A couple of months ago, we went down to Bath
and we received an experience.
And today, I've seen the same sort of thing happening,
except it's been Valerie and Carol that have been doing it, and it's just phenomenal.
The bread group are back on track,
and are now in with a chance of setting up a community bakery.
The introductory class secures 14 new recruits,
and they're booked into a market for the following weekend.
With many of the new members complete novices,
Patrick and Duncan rush back to Bedale to give them an intensive session...
-All right, guys?
..to get everyone up to speed.
-Hi, I'm Duncan. Pleased to meet you.
Thank you very much for taking some time out to come and spend a bit of time with us this afternoon.
-We weren't quite expecting so many.
Right, there's a couple of things we want to do today.
We're going to get stuck in the kitchen. Patrick's going to head that up in a minute.
But, basically, the main thing I really wanted to tackle today
was this sort of issue of why is your bread better than, you know,
the loaves that you can buy for half the price in the convenience store?
As bakers, Patrick and Duncan are passionate about promoting the benefits of real bread,
as opposed to mass-produced supermarket loaves.
What you may not be so aware of is, actually,
the incredible variety of ingredients that go into your average packaged loaf.
I mean, from the top here, we've got dextrose, a synthetic sugar.
Then we've got ascorbic acid.
Now, ascorbic acid will make the loaf that you buy from the supermarket
that much sort of bigger and voluminous than a loaf that you might turn out at home.
The next thing we've got here is flavouring.
A standard packaged loaf contains, on average, 14 ingredients...
The next thing we've got is calcium propionate.
It's actually an anti-moulding agent.
..ten of which are additives to make it last longer
and make it cheaper to produce.
The next ingredient that we have here is called L-cysteine.
You can make it synthetically, but it is also available on the market
made from animal hair, and in other parts of the world, although not in Europe,
it can be made from human hair.
For any of you guys who are actually quite curious, please do come up.
We worked quite hard to actually get hold of these ingredients.
At the end of the day, these go in our foods, so they are deemed safe.
If you wanted to sort of have a little dab of one, and see what you think.
The L-cysteine is the most awful flavour I've ever come across, it genuinely is.
You wait, because it actually gets worse as it goes along. It genuinely does.
Thank you, that's very reassuring!
-You're really selling it, Duncan.
-That was so disgusting.
It does make it more understandable why they want to put flavouring in.
That's a very good point, actually, to mask the taste of death.
Any amount of flour you put in isn't going to cover that.
There's a step there, guys.
Patrick's ideas for the session will focus on how the baking group can make a range of products
from the basic bread recipe of flour, water, salt and yeast.
OK. Pretty much what we're going to do today is we're going to take the very basic white dough,
but we're going to tweak them a little bit.
We're going to take a little take on the traditional pasty,
and I'm going to introduce you to foccacia.
The foccacia dough simply is a kilo of flour,
20 grams of salt, 20 grams of yeast, 200 grams of olive oil or rapeseed oil,
whichever you decide to use, whatever you have at hand,
and 250 grams of milk, which is just that little bit richer than just water.
And that's pretty much it. Literally, you could put anything on it.
The great thing about it is it's actually finished,
it's like a meal in itself.
You know, you've got artichokes that you kind of roast and marinate.
You've got some beautiful tomatoes.
In the right season, shallots, onion, red onions,
or even some beautiful sort of British asparagus.
So, literally, once you kind of get to here,
you're really working your fingers and stretching the dough out.
These ones are going to give you a good 12 portions, easy.
A bit of olive oil in the tray, we're going to... Make them work here.
You can smell, you can smell the tomatoes already.
It's just kind of... There's lots of oil in there as well,
so we're just going to... The simple things all work together, the balsamic, the basil,
the red onion, it's a nice light, kind of Mediterranean flavour.
All we want to do is simply work that in.
It's got to fit this tray, and then it's going to puff up.
It's going to be like a nice inch in height.
We're going to get some of our blue cheese now.
You can take it, you will see, it will crumble up.
The plan is for the community bakery to be a not-for-profit organisation,
but they'll still have to cover costs in order to survive.
Funnily enough, you can make the best loaves in the world with the most incredible ingredients,
and people will still struggle to value it for what it is.
Whereas you can take a very similar dough, put an interesting twist on it,
add a bit of seasonal ingredients to it,
and then you've got a product which they'll actually potentially,
for say a third of the amount of dough, pay up to twice, twice the price for it.
Next, Patrick shows the group a twist on a traditional pasty, curried pumpkin.
We've rolled out our dough.
All we use is a saucer.
A lightly roasted pumpkin, combined with the curry sauce,
is reduced to a rich consistency so it stays in the casing.
All we're going to do is take little disks, by half a centimetre really,
because if it's too thin, it's just going to break through,
and we don't want it to quite break through.
All you're doing is egg washing the outside.
Take a little spoon of our mix,
and then all we're looking to do, pinch it together.
A Yorkshire pasty.
And to finish, using a slightly sweetened dough,
he makes cinnamon swirls.
If you had a little spray bottle,
all we do is spray a little on the top, and simply use this.
All it is is brown sugar and cinnamon, and again, if you had your little spray bottle,
it would just help to stick it down really, that's it.
We're going to roll it up.
Once we've got our big long sausage, all you do is cut about an inch,
you can see a little swirl on them.
-What do you reckon?
-It looks wonderful, really beautiful.
Really, really good.
Pretty much, has this shown you how easy, erm, just bringing together like a simple white dough can be,
and it not being a loaf of bread?
Let's look at the little cheese savouries here.
How much would you guys pay for one of those?
£1.20? A slice of focaccia?
That's very similar to the cheese savouries.
We sell that around the kind of £1, £1.20...
Probably not as much as £1.30, but around that sort of mark.
Now, the crazy thing is, you said that weighs, what?
About the same as a 400 gram loaf of bread.
All we're talking about is a marinade of fresh vegetables
that cost absolutely nothing at this time of year,
and a few glugs of olive oil,
and you've just basically trebled the perceivable value of that product.
Now that the wheel at Crakehall is turning, Lionel's next task is to clear the pond of weeds
so the water can run freely down to the mill.
He's invited some of the locals to help.
You can see who's going to do all the work. I'm the foreman.
I've got white shoes on.
Good morning, everybody. Thank you very much for coming along.
We're going to go up that end of the pond, the far end,
and remove some of these, er, invasive weeds.
So, we'll all go up, up the end. Oh, just one other thing, names.
Everybody knows one another. I'm Alison and that's Lionel.
Rosie, from the community baking group,
is the fifth and final person to arrive.
Although there's a committed core of volunteers
helping out at the mill,
Dave, a retired chef,
is frustrated that more people aren't getting involved.
The only thing I can think is... they're not bothered.
Oh, to heck with it, what do we want a mill for?
That's the attitude I seem to get from them.
They buy their bread from the supermarket,
why do they need a mill for flour to bake bread?
Because they don't bake bread, so it doesn't affect them.
So, why should we do something that's not going to benefit us?
Yeah, you could be right there.
Quite a lot of society's like that, isn't it?
There's just no community.
-Whereas before, in the olden days, people would have like...
..these people need help, let's see what we can do to help them.
Let's get it going, then it'll benefit us all.
Maybe, once they see what's happening,
then we might get more people getting involved.
When a mill was first built at Crakehall, 1,000 years ago,
it was one of the earliest mills in the country.
By the 13th century, every village had one.
But with the Industrial Revolution,
water mills became increasingly superfluous to our everyday life.
The Hobson family were the last generation of millers
who lived and worked this mill from the 1890s until the 1930s.
But now, with Lionel's renovation,
this mill is on its way to finding itself at the heart of its community,
grinding flour once more.
A week after the master class with Patrick and Duncan,
the newly reformed group are about to do their first paying market.
They have a stall booked at the Wensleydale Show.
Traditionally, this was a social gathering for farmers,
but more recently, it's become a major tourist attraction.
I cannot believe that we've just done so much.
Together, the group have produced more than 500 items,
which begin to sell almost immediately.
There you go, enjoy.
Oh, hi, Carol, how are you getting on?
'I'm not out. I've just come back to start baking again.
'How are things going?'
Yeah, we're doing really, really well.
We're selling, the pumpkin pasties are an absolute hit.
Shall I butter it, or just leave it? Shall I just leave it?
There presence at the Wensleydale Show is not only the first time
this newly reinforced group have sold their bread to the public,
it's also the setting to show just how far Valerie,
grandmother of three, has come.
Only three months ago, Valerie's self confidence was so low
that a simple food hygiene exam reduced her to tears.
Today, spurred on by 23-year-old university graduate Lucy,
she's taken on Wensleydale's toughest challenge.
Yep, what I've got here is the cupcakes and the harvester bread.
Their baking is to be judged in the county competition.
-Lucy has put in some cupcakes and Valerie...
-OK, that's perfect.
..a mustard granary loaf.
No, it's just a loaf of bread.
Peter, her husband of 43 years, can't believe the change in her.
It's transformed her.
She's, er, become really punchy, and a go-getter.
Whereas before, she was quite happy to, not let the world go by,
but as long as she had something to keep her busy, she was happy.
Now she's got the bit between her teeth and there's no stopping her.
4pm, and judging for the 96th Annual Wensleydale Food Competition is complete.
It's on this side, Valerie.
No, I'm really... I'm excited just to see how they have done,
because it's the first competition that we've been into.
So, I mean, if they get something as well, then it's just like the icing on the cake.
It would be absolutely fantastic, yes.
Even second would be fine.
Even third. Even if I got a rosette for the best effort.
The competition awards first, second and third to the winning entries...
-Oh, my word.
-We'll go to the bread first.
..and highly commends the best of the rest.
It's on this side here, Valerie, is there anything there, where's yours?
-This is it.
But despite her best efforts, Valerie's mustard granary
has failed to impress the judges.
-Oh, never mind.
Oh, first prize. Ohh.
And she's not very impressed with the loaf that's won.
My confidence has increased and I feel that
I am now able to say things that I wouldn't have been able to do.
That's softer. Anyway,
not to worry.
And Lucy's cupcakes have also failed to shine.
I don't think it really matters, to be honest.
-Highly recommended, and we didn't get them!
Without the bread project, I think I would have been pretty lonely.
It has been a real big turning point for me.
And I think because it is just the Wensleydale Show,
you know what I mean, everyone knows each other, it's like, oh, well?
-It's got to have a lot to do with it, you know what I mean?
-Those other breads were so dense.
At Crakehall, the millstones, made out of a porous limestone called burr,
are being cleaned and checked to make them ready for grinding.
They weigh up to a ton each,
and it'll take thousands of gallons of water to get them started.
When the water wheel turns, the drive shaft passes through
a hole in the wall and connects to the pit wheel.
At full speed, the water generates about ten horsepower, which
is enough to drive the wheel to turn the newly spruced millstones.
Mill consultant Martin Watts is on site to check the mechanics.
All the gearings, bearings, and shafts,
and so on need to be aligned as best as we can get them.
But until you switch the engine on, the thing doesn't come to life,
and you don't know how it's going to perform.
Happy that everything is working well, owner Lionel Green
decides it's finally time to put this ancient mill to the test.
He's decided to mark this historic occasion by
inviting the baking group along to witness the mill grinding flour once more.
Hello, I've let down the window so you can smell the bread.
-Lucy's been baking today.
-Oh, has she?
Yes, and she's turned out about five different sorts of bread.
-Look, have I done you proud?
-Look at that.
-Don't look at it too closely.
-No, it's fantastic.
Today, Lionel will be baptised into the milling world.
Welcome to Crakehall water mill. Do make your way in.
Up on the top floor of the mill, grain is poured down the hopper.
On the middle floor, the millstones grind the grain into flour.
In the basement, the finished flour comes down a chute.
It's coming right.
-Now bake some bread.
-The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
That's right, you're exactly right.
Over to the bakers now, over to the bakers, the miller's done his job.
It's fantastic, the last time I was here, it was all sort of crumbly and dusty.
It's fantastic seeing it working.
I'm surprised how excited grown women and men can be over a mill, really.
In honour of the occasion, Lucy has baked some bread
from flour ground yesterday in a test run at the mill.
-Have you tried any yet?
-I have, yes, it's absolutely fabulous.
Perhaps it's an acquired taste.
-Yeah, it's not everybody's cup of tea, that.
-Wouldn't be mine.
-I don't take to it, but don't let on.
This evening has been fantastic, just seeing the whole thing just work.
You know, all those months ago, we couldn't really believe
that it was going to ever reach here, and it's just done it.
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
The flour that Lionel has ground is hoisted up to the top floor of the mill
to be stored until the baking group are ready to use it.
After eight months of blood, sweat and kneading,
the Big Bread Experiment has reached a milestone.
Both the community baking group and the mill are now set and ready
to take on the final and most important challenge.
The ambition has always been to open a fully functioning community bakery,
here in Bedale...
..selling bread to the locals regularly.
Without this, the whole endeavour will be unsustainable in the longer term.
Someone who knows a thing or two about what sells here is Scott Thompson.
His family have been baking since 1886,
and they've been on the High Street here for the last 40 years.
But, recently, the business has been in decline.
To keep costs down, Scott stopped using his High Street front,
and now sells bread directly from his bakery at the back of the premises.
Just let me wait until this mix is out, and I'll be with you,
and I'll give you a guided tour of my bakery first,
because you'll be wanting to know that bit most of all.
He's welcomed the project with open arms,
and has invited the bread group in to use his premises.
With that in mind, Lucy has come up with a plan for a pop-up bakery.
For one day only, the bread group will take over the shop
so they can find out what the locals think of their bread,
and see how much of it they can sell.
This is absolutely massive to the community group
and the project as a whole, because until now,
they've done their little farmers' markets, sold out, it's all been really good fun.
They've done the county shows, they've had a really good reaction.
But here, it's about them stepping in on their home turf.
The people who are going to be buying from them
in this pop-up sort of bakery shop are the people
who they need to be buying from them day in, day out, basically.
So, it's about them kind of gauging the product range,
making the products that these people are going to want to buy,
that's going to put a smile on their face,
and going to get them digging out their wallets and spending some hard cash.
It's going to be a real sort of acid test for them, really, now.
And, to be quite honest, it is a little bit of a concern,
the fact that the baker who had that High Street presence has actually decided
to take this step away from the High Street sales
and just sell his few loaves of bread fresh from his shelves at the back bakery.
You know, it's not worked for him, and you just really hope that they hit the nail on the head,
because they only get one shot at this.
So, I think the stakes are high, and they've got a lot to prove.
The team have been working through the night, baking
their best and most innovative recipes.
We have got honey and mustard,
we have got rosemary and cracked black pepper, we have got date and walnut wholemeal,
apricot and almond wholemeal, and a harvester which is a seeded...
It's a seeded white, actually,
but it looks darker because of the seeds and the brown sugar.
Erm, and then we've got our pasties, and scones and cakes.
They've produced a whopping 70 loaves, plus hundreds of scones, cakes and pastries.
There's only one person present who has any idea
-whether it will sell or not...
-Mmm, very tasty.
But will the Bedale folk buy it? That's the question.
Well, it's not square, and it's not white and sliced.
So, Mr Thompson,
are you saying that Bedale, Bedale isn't ready for this bread?
There is a market for a certain amount of the more exotic varieties and flavours,
and things like that, but it's more of a minority market.
The majority of what I sell comes from the three categories,
either white, wholemeal or granary.
When my father started 25, 30 years ago, nearly everything was white.
They've come on 100% when they've taken on board wholemeal.
The majority of my market tends to be bread buns,
and if they really want to get exotic
and have something with their, er, their Saturday night tea,
they'll go for a bloomer, a white bloomer, rather than a white tin.
Undeterred, the girls are taking over Scott's empty shop front on Bedale High Street.
The big day arrives, and the baking group have decided to take it in turns manning the shop.
22-year-old university graduate Lucy is doing the first shift.
After studying for a business degree, Lucy had the bright lights of London in her sights.
But then her life took an unexpected turn.
Life is very much different to what I had originally planned,
but that's not to say that I don't absolutely love it.
I've now fallen madly and deeply in love with a farmer,
and I don't ever see him kind of moving too far away from here.
I kind of have to be in Bedale now.
I do have a long-term view on the community bakery idea
if it were to kind of become quite big and quite successful as well,
and I'll be willing to put in the hours to get it to that point.
I did a business management degree,
so I also have kind of that aspect of marketing, and things like that as well.
I think it would be good if the bread was kind of aided as a social way of meeting people,
especially kind of young farmers, who live and work constantly in the farm.
If we could have a farmer meeting night, and bake some bread, and they can...farmers are always hungry.
-And then the harvester as well?
Mid morning and business is steady.
We've got rosemary and cracked black pepper here. Honey and mustard.
24-year-old Becky has lived in Yorkshire all her life and works for an environmental charity.
-How many slices do you want?
Baking runs in her blood.
Her granny's scones were so renowned, she was called The Scone Queen
A big part of my job is to do with helping to promote that food should come from somewhere local,
that milk comes from a cow, not out of a bottle in Tesco,
and that you can grow things yourself, it's not hard.
Thank you, hope to see you again.
The baking group may have won over the people who have come into the shop...
That's £1.90, please.
..but the real challenge are the people who haven't even crossed over the threshold.
-Are you having half a dozen of them?
-No, I just want that bit.
OK, that's a cinnamon and apple scone.
-Oh, that sounds posh, not for me.
What we are trying to do is,
we're a community bakery that's just set up in Bedale
and we're sort of taking bread back to its kind of old-fashioned roots
of being completely natural, without any additives.
-Do you want to try some of this?
-Thank you very much.
We'll move on.
The only way the project will succeed is
if the general population of Bedale gets behind it.
We're, we've set up in Thompsons Bakery now.
-Would you like to try any?
-No, thank you.
-Are you sure?
We go for the normal, like Warburton's, farmhouse,
and that sort of thing.
I normally, with having two children,
they just like white bread.
I don't think I could persuade them to eat anything out of there.
-But it was very nice, the bread I sampled, really nice.
-It was nice.
And I will go in and try it another day.
This bottom one here, we've got almond and apricot bread,
this one is a date and walnut bread,
this one is rosemary and cracked black pepper.
No, I don't want these fancy breads at all.
Do you not sort of tend to eat more sort of exotic flavoured...?
No, I don't, I like bread to be neutral.
I think it'll take some getting off the ground in Bedale, yes.
I think to base a business on flavoured breads,
however good they are, in a small town like Bedale,
to rely on Bedale trade alone, is a hiding to nowhere.
It's beeping and I'm frightened. Everything's happening at once.
It's kind of hard to picture, isn't it,
because it's not currently a bakery or a baker's shop?
I guess we'll just have to do it and then think about it afterwards.
That's nice, nice and soft.
Here's some bread, have some.
-Yeah, try some bread. It's tasty.
Wow! Look at this!
My goodness, what's for sale here?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Led by curate Cath Vickers, the bread group based in the Yorkshire town of Bedale has started training with professional bakers Patrick Ryan and Duncan Glendinning, and they are rapidly learning new skills.
Renovation is also continuing apace at the mill. However, a major setback throws everything into disarray. Can the project continue?