For the 2016 event, click here
Introduction: I’m often given the credit for starting the Bethesdabakin’ events but, to be honest, it was more a case of spoiling tactics than selflessness on my part. Back in early 2007 Dan Lepard’s forum was the place to be. There was a very lively international group of bakers swapping ideas and banter. Someone said wouldn’t it be an excellent idea if we all met up face to face and baked together. There was a great scramble of suggestions and, when it looked like it was going to Australia (or was it the US?) I thought, bum, I can’t afford to go there, and stepped boldly forward assuring everyone that I could host it, that Bethesda had perfect conditions for baking, and that Bethesda Rugby Club was tailor-made for this type of event.
Obviously it wasn’t the first time anyone had run a baking event but it sure-as- hell felt like it. I should have trusted my Stalinist instincts and told everyone how it was going to be but I tried to organise it democratically by email with an international committee. It got a little tense at times.
On the one hand planning went too slowly for some and, as we hadn’t done this sort of thing before, people started to doubt they could put their trust in the organisers which by that time was largely me (with a lot of help from James Langton). One eminent amateur baker pulled out famously saying he didn’t want to be one of two men standing in a muddy field waiting for the pubs to open. On the other hand we over-planned fearing that the whole three days had to be programmed to the minute.
We didn’t know if the group would eat together, whether some people would want more upmarket accommodation and restaurants, how much and what ingredients to buy, whether the club’s two ovens would be adequate, plus a whole range of other imponderables that started to surface in my brain about 3.00 in the morning.
We even had a stalker. Someone who styled himself “the Watcher” started to pop up on Dan’s forum leaving slightly sinister messages. I was pretty sure I knew who it was and that it was aimed at me but, for anyone who was going to be camping on their own on the rugby pitch in a strange rural area, it began to get a little menacing. Baking attracts such a diverse group of individuals that one of the forum members just happened to be an IT security consultant and tracked down the PC the messages were being sent from which just happened to be sited in the local probation office ….
Of course in the end everyone mucked in and it turned into a great baking experience thanks, in no small part to Dan Lepard putting on an all-day workshop for free and Rick Coldman building and firing up his prefabricated wood burning oven (we were up at the local builders merchant buying concrete blocks when they opened 8.00 a.m. Saturday morning!).
Since then, and this is not to detract from the amount of work hosts still have to put in, some aspects have become easier. We know that it will work, we can predict fairly accurately how much we need to charge bakers, the amount of stock to get in, and particularly that people will work together and learn from each other without the need for instruction from “stars” or a highly structured programme.
The events are not owned by anyone, there is no organisation, no committee. You become a member of the group by taking part in one of the events. There are no rules, just broad principles which are that they are open to bakers of all standards who are willing to participate, share ideas and skills and work together. No one makes a profit – costs are shared and kept as low as possible so as not to exclude anyone.
This blog (the web address was secured by and is being paid for by Marcus Row) is a belated attempt to produce a history of Bethesdabakin’, to pull together all of the individual event blogs, and to become the main home for any future events. Everyone who has attended any of the baking weekends is invited to contribute.
Historic Blogs: I’m afraid our use of blogs has been a little on the patchy side. Probably best to treat then like archeological sites and dig round them a bit and see what you find.
Click for James Langton’s long-lost Bethesdabakin’2007 blog. Most of the planning for the first event was done on Dan Lepard’s forum which has now gone. He also produced a Breadwiki after the event for people to post recipes. Sadly this too has gone. James Langton, who was obviously a little more technically advanced than the rest of us, organised a blog but we were similarly too technologically challenged to make much use of it.
In 2008, Brad Prezant hosted the event in Conzieu in Eastern France. No blog so we’ll have to try to recreate proceedings on a separate page.
In 2009 Rick & Maggie Coldman were the hosts at Mair’s Bakehouse in South West Wales. Again there was no blog.
Click for Bethesdabakin’ 2010 (Dales Dough Do-ing). At last, Martin and Joe Firebeard put up a blog for the fourth event in the Yorkshire Dales.
Click for Bethesdabakin’5 2011. Well I did do a blog but mangled the Front Page after the event to announce 2012 at Trefriew.
Click for Bethesdbakin’@Trefriew 2012. Joe’s blog.
Click for Bethesdabakin’@Conzieu 2013. I put up a blog on Brad’s behalf for the return to Conzieu.
Click for Bethesdabakin’@Gert’s March 2014. New departure the first Bethesdabakinbijoux event in Caernarfon.
Click for Bethesdabakin’@Mairs May 2014
Click for Bethesdabakin’@Trefriw 2015: 18/19 July
We would like to collect as much material relating to the events as possible – recollections, photos, recipes, etc. Once we get a bit of structure to the blog we will probably give everyone who has attended an event authorship rights so that it becomes a sort of wikiblog. In the mean time if you have anything you want included or any ideas about the structure or development of the blog, please contact me using the contact box below.