Three Exeter independents have launched the ‘Get Exeter Baking’ campaign to help local people enjoy the benefits and pleasure of making real bread at home.

Participants will be provided with information and resources to help them learn the art of making real sourdough bread, and to take part in a competition to show off their creations for a chance to win baking-themed prizes.

The campaign is being run collectively by Emma’s Bread, The Real Food Store and The Sidwell Street Bakehouse to support the Real Bread Campaign’s Sourdough September initiative. Now in its eighth year, Sourdough September is billed as an “annual, international celebration of the oldest way of leavening a loaf”. 

Emma Parkin, who runs Emma’s Bread, said: “The Get Exeter Baking campaign is all about sharing the delights of real sourdough and the slow pleasure it provides. Recent events have stimulated people to have a go at home baking and “sourdough bread” has become the ultimate goal.

“In a world that is increasingly all about speed, stress and instant availability, the process of creating a proper loaf of bread is almost a meditative experience. It forces you to slow down, focus on each step and put real care and love into what you are creating. For me, there’s nothing else quite like it. I want as many people as possible to experience the delights of baking sourdough.”

Throughout September, small pots of starter (or leaven) are available to be picked up for free from the Real Food Store, the Boatyard Bakery and the Sidwell Street Bakehouse. 

Participants are encouraged to share their creations online using the hashtags #GetExeterBaking and #SourdoughSelfie. There will be prizes for the best submissions – a Sourdough baking class at St Sidwell’s, A Handful of Flour recipe book by Tess Lister or a Sourdough September apron.

Iona Collins, who runs The Sidwell Street Bakehouse as part of St Sidwell’s Community Centre, is keen to help people bake at home and prior to COVID-19 held regular sourdough baking classes. “Obviously we haven’t been able to do any community events for the past few months but we fully support the Real Bread’s Campaign to encourage eating or making sourdough bread”, said Iona. “The Sidwell Street Bakehouse has been one of Exeter Farmers’ market regulars throughout the pandemic, and we know just how much people enjoy their weekly loaf.”

David Mezzetti, Chair of the Real Food Store on Queen Street, said: “As a community-owned business, our ethos is all about bringing people together to support local production and reconnect with where their food comes from. There’s no better way to connect with your food than to make it yourself!

“The Get Exeter Baking campaign will help people to appreciate what goes into a real loaf of bread by learning to bake one themselves. That may sound like a small ambition, but it holds the key to bringing people back in touch with where their food comes from and what goes into its production. Quite aside from that, baking bread is simply an awful lot of fun.”

To take part, pick up your starter from the Real Food Store, the Boatyard Bakery or the Sidwell Street Bakehouse.

Emma’s Bread is available from the Real Food Store every day from 09.00am.