Real Bread Week 2024: Scotland the Bread to host festival in Fife - and why bread making is relaxing

February 17-25 is Real Bread Week – an annual, international celebration of additive-free bread and the people behind its popularity

Sourdough may still be seen by some as hipster fodder, but its health benefits are more widely recognised, which has been key in its meteoric rise in recent years.

I’ve been buying Freedom Bakery sourdough for a long time now, and even my Dad has been converted from white supermarket bread to Aldi’s sourdough, which for me is a sign the slowly fermented bread has hit the mainstream.

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If you’re keen to get your carb on this week, then you’d do well to head to Bowhouse in Fife on Saturday, as they’re hosting Scotland’s only festival dedicated to Real Bread. The festival is organised by award-winning local charity Scotland The Bread, which has a permanent presence at Bowhouse and sells organic wheat, rye grain and flour made from traditional grains. Running from 10am to 4pm, the day is packed with activities for all the family, from those looking to make the most of their bread making skills (or bread maker) to discussions on grain biodiversity.

Matt Fountain, founder of Freedom Bakery knows a thing or two about bread making.Matt Fountain, founder of Freedom Bakery knows a thing or two about bread making.
Matt Fountain, founder of Freedom Bakery knows a thing or two about bread making.

Little ones can get hands-on making sourdough flatbreads and have a blast threshing and milling grain at The Big Thrash. Andrew Whitley, Scotland The Bread chairman and co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign, said: “The tide is turning against ultra-processed food and people are keen to get access to additive-free food grown without nature-harming chemicals. Bread isn’t called ’the staff of life’ for nothing. It’s still at the heart of many diets and the festival gives everyone an opportunity to exercise their right to good food, starting with our daily bread. Once you’ve tasted the real thing – where it comes from, how easy it is to make it yourself, why it needs to be available to everybody – there’s no turning back.”

The prize-giving of the Scottish Bread Championship will also be a festival highlight. It is Scotland’s only Real Bread competition, attracting increasing numbers of entries from professional and amateur bakers across the country.

Some of these amateur bakers may have honed their bread-making skills during lockdown – remember the flour shortages? During this time, when we couldn’t get our freshly made sourdough loaves, many people decided to make their own with varying degrees of success. What many of us did find, regardless of the success of the bread, was that making a loaf from scratch is really, very therapeutic.

It gave us time to step out of the (home) office and focus only on the task at hand. There’s something about kneading bread too that I personally find relaxing and there is surely no better smell than a loaf being baked in a hot oven. I learned the basics from a very enjoyable half day bread class at Ballintaggart, which I attended with my Mum for Mother’s Day 2018 – the pre-Covid days when neither of us knew that in the not-too-distant future we’d be sending pictures of our lockdown loaves.

So this week, whether you’ve never tried it before or haven’t for a while, why not try your hand at baking bread? It only takes about four or five ingredients and is an hour or two well spent.



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