In my last post I shared the experience about the workshop with Nicolas Supiot From the seed to the peasant bakery.
Today I would like to share a video about his unique way of sourdough bread baking. It’s meditative – with bare feet on the ground, hands in petrin and fire in his heart.
Nicolas bakes sourdough bread twice per week. The first step starts in the evening before the baking day, when he mills his own grains in his own mill and then puts the flour in the petrin to rest there overnight. Petrin is a french word for a dough box – the box where you mix the dough.
“In other languages petrin is called metrnga, nečke or vintola (Slovenian), tulha (Portuguese), maida (Sicilian), Deeg Schaal (Dutch), načve (Serbian), artesa (Spanish), korytko (Slovak), noshtvi (Bulgarian). *
How is petrin called where you live?”
The baking day starts early. The morning mists are slowely disappearing as he weighs sourdough starter and warm water. Before he pours filtered water into petrin, he gives a bowl three decisive spins – to bring water back to life.
The preparation of dough is not routine, it’s different everytime. Except for the prayer before dipping his hands into the flour. Prayer is a gratitude for the existing and connection to the future bread.
He mixes the dough with softness and determination and leaves it to rest. Nicolas says that in bread baking lot of work is done when we are not working. It’s relatively warm in the room, so dough ferments fast. While it ferments, Nicolas performs some streching and folding to give dough the strength. As the dough rests, he fires up his wood-fired oven. The fire needs to burn and heat up the bottom. Nicolas observes the readiness of the oven by the color of the bricks and movement of the flames. When it’s time to shape the loaves, it’s done decisevely, yet gently and fast. Experienced hands know how to feel the dough.
This is Nicolas Supiot in his peasant bakery.
Who is a peasant baker?
Shortly said, peasant baker (also farmer baker) is more than just a job of being a baker. It is a choice of lifestyle taking care of the entire bread production chaing – growing own grains, milling those grains into flour in own mill and baking naturally leavened bread.
To an outside observer running a peasant bakery might seem extreme. But as I learned from Nicolas, it’s better to say radical instead of extreme.
“Radical: in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots,” from Latin radix (genitive radicis) “root”. Meaning “going to the origin, essential” is from 1650s.”
Peasant bakery exists on the other side of the agricultural industrialization, unbalanced grain economy and fast produced industrial breads. By going back to roots, I mean choosing old varieties of wheat and other grains and agricultures practices that take advantage of environmental intelligence, natural cycles and old knowledge of plant protection dating before the pesticides era.
Choosing heritage and local varieties of grains is important step towards seed independence and biodiversity. Biodiversity brings flavor and character.
Peasant bakery gives transparency and clearness, what is a consumer needs to make better choices.
Being a peasant baker means being on a holistic journey, from the seed to the bread. It requires understanding of different connected processes and adequate adjustments.
In the end, two things matter the most: the protection of our environment and general well-being. These two can go hand in hand – by going back to roots and chosing technology innovations as a means of efficiency at the same time. And in the end, it’s all about balance.
We can always decide and choose. And indecision is decision as well. Make good decisions for your well-being.
Stay tuned for the next video where we will have a look into the other side of reality!
* Thank you all contributors from My Daily Sourdough Bread Facebook Page!