Comrie's Wild Hearth Bakery hopes to raise £100,000 through Bake with Ukraine campaign

The funds will go to the British Red Cross

We all love sourdough or a croissant, and Wild Hearth Bakery in Comrie makes magnificent versions of both.

However, they're currently encouraging professional bakers to try making Ukrainian bread.

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This is part of founder John Castley's Bake With Ukraine campaign, which he hopes will raise £100,000 for the British Red Cross. It was inspired by London-based authors and cooks, Olia Hercules and Alissa Timoshkina, who set up Cook for Ukraine. While their food fundraiser is more general and encourages people to cook traditional Ukrainian and Eastern European dishes, Castley’s version involves baking instead. Contributed recipes will be shared and tested via his new website.

John Castley at Wild Hearth Bakery, Pic:Craig Stephen
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“Like all of us, most Ukrainian breads and pastries are new to me. But two stand out: makivnyk (poppy seed roll) and paska (Easter or Passover bread). I grew up eating my Hungarian grandmother’s poppy seed roll, known as beigli in Hungarian. It’s exactly the same as makivnyk,” says Castley. “I’m yet to make it but paska will be first on my list because it is similar to, though a lot less technical than, the beloved Italian panettone, which we have been baking at Wild Hearth for the last two years”.

He hopes that Bake With Ukraine participants will try these offerings, share their creations on social media, sell their wares and make money for the charity now. If he can secure a publisher, the recipes may eventually make for a cookbook. For Castley, getting involved in this humanitarian crisis was personal.

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“It was less a decision than an imperative – I felt a mixture of deep sadness, anger, and a desperate need to do something. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my mother fled Hungary ahead of the Russian invasion in 1944,” he says. “Her father, my grandfather, was a mill owner and, as such, would have been one of the first against the wall when the Russians purged the bourgeoisie. That is a very complicated story – ironically, they fled on a train headed for Auschwitz but my grandfather was able to bribe the train driver to change course. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Germany before migrating to Australia in 1949”.

As part of this campaign, Castley has enlisted the help of others, including Tetiana Sinuihina from Puhque Bakery in Kharkiv. She is currently making bread for Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in her basement bakery in the besieged city, and the pair have been in email contact.

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Easter bread, Pic: Instagram @tiana_di

So far, it’s early days with the campaign, and they’ve raised nearly £10,000, thanks to recipes and financial contributions from as far afield as the USA, Spain, Israel and Ireland, among other places. Castley sees reaching their target as a long term goal.

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“Donation fatigue is a reality we need to accept - after the first flush of donations from the public, it is largely up to governments to keep up the financial support of Ukraine'', he says. “I will judge the appeal a success if we have forged long-term relationships with bakers in Ukraine and around the world, relationships that can help the people of Ukraine in the long process of rebuilding”.

Email your recipes to [email protected] or follow them on Instagram @bakewithukraine

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Poppyseed roll Pic: Instgram @anastasia__lundqvist
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