Saturday, 22 April 2017

My life in Baking by Clive Mellum

 My latest book arrived a couple of days ago.....yes another book on bread making.  One can really learn by going 'back to basics'.....I also used my new thermapen to get the temperatures right, and saw for myself that there is absolutely no need to have any sugar to activate dried yeast and get it working well...a completely new lesson for me gleaned from this book.

Last night  I made the Sponge.   Today, I had my very own Basic Workshop, all on my own!  However I could hear Clive's voice speak from the pages.  The book is written like no other 'Book of Recipes'. His wisdom shines out and I am touched by his generosity in sharing all his tips.  When I revisit some of my other favourite authors I am sure that they will have explained some similar processes...but Clive Mellum has helped me understand the importance of timings and what happens to the flour during the various stages of bread, scone and pastry making.

I've baked bread for nearly forty years on and off...learning so much from friends and good books.  I used to visit Shipton Mill regularly to collect flour, and Mr S and I were also invited to visit the mill and shown around by John Compton the Miller.  I never went to one of their 'free' workshops, now one has to pay.   Having bought and read Clive's Book, I feel that I can have as many 'free workshops' that I care to.  I must admit I have only had a quick fly through, and will need to revisit with pen and notepad to made notes.

I made the Skilly Wash...when I first read this when I was very tired...yes still a problem not sleeping...I thought it said silly wash, and I really wondered how silly could this wash be.  It is made up of scalded corn flour...just how could this give a good finish to a loaf?  I was so silly to doubt this.  I made up half the quantity...1 teaspoon of cornflour and 125g boiling water, which is now stashed in the fridge for the next baking session.

Here is the result from flour, water, yeast and salt only!  I've just noticed the poppy seeds, which really are well stuck using the Skilly Wash!

Those pale bloaty things are the puffiest pittas I have ever made!  They are soft, with the largest of pockets and very very tasty.  I am so very pleased to have found a book which no doubt will take my baking to a very satisfactory level.  I cannot wait to try his no shrink pastry...but I just wonder if there is any room for improvement in my scones...we shall see.

Today also saw me baking a couple of sour dough loaves: Do good Loaves from Perfecting Sourdough by Jane Mason.  I applied some of the wisdom imparted by Clive, and I must admit that the shaping and final bake is an improvement of my previous attempt.  There was no splitting around the base and I got a better rise.


  1. The sourdough loaves look as good as the ones I buy from our local artisan baker.

  2. Aaah, Clive. A true master of his craft! So glad to read good things about his book, which is now going into my online shopping basket ;-) It was Clive who got us started on sourdough and the reason why a mysterious plastic bag in our freezer is labelled "Clive's Mother".

  3. How nice to read this entry! I had the pleasure of publishing this book. Clive is such an amazing baker and teacher.

  4. Just come across this whilst searching for information about the skilly wash, on my quest for the perfect crust. Lovely to see pictures of the bread you made. I've just bought Clive Mellum's book myself and am excited to do the first workshop.

    1. Having a good bread mentor seems to give me confidence to follow my own nose. Jane Mason's book on sourdough is about to be republished, it really is a very good way to perfect your sourdough:

    2. Ah! That might have to be my next read! Thanks!

    3. I've baked almost every recipe from that book. The Book of Buns too is excellent. So many tips and techniques in each.

    4. Good recommendations! TY!