In the end of 2009 I started this little project, called the Bread Exchange.
It has been a really good year. Mainly because it has connected me with such great people. The Bread Exchange network brings me often to the ones that are into the same things as myself; Traveling, Design, People and of course Food. Red thread is that they are open minded people that like to enjoy with all their senses. At the moment I have over 1000 traders. Pretty crazy.
It started with that I had stopped eating white Bread. For me good basic bread is the most elementary dish and I want it simple, not boosted with yeast and additives. In the end it is not an idealistic idea, a good sourdough is healthier, stays fresh longer and, what matters the most to me, i taste waaaayy better. Why complicate something that has been done with three ingredients since thousands of years? The bread production of today is a sad story, even in a country like Germany. The only reason why I would bake with yeast is if the flour I am using is cheap and bad quality, or if I just don’t have the time. And as we know, time is money. It is all about money, really.
Anyhow. After cutting out bread of my diet I Soon realized that life is not as sweet without good bread. So I started experimenting hard core with sourdough. I had something bubbling in every corner of my home. It was not easy. My trashcan was constantly full of bread and test-doughs. After about a year I found myself good enough to take it one step further. I decided to turn to the masters and was lucky to get an internship with the number one sourdough baker in Sweden, Manfred Enockson. In September last year, in between NYC and Paris fashion week, I went to bake at Lars Gustavsson bakery in Höje.
Back in Berlin I baked even more. I needed to find a way to get rid of my high speed bread production in my Berlin Flat. There was a limit on how much my friends, my neighbors and I could possibly eat. One thing I noticed was that when I started to give people naturally started to give me things in return. A beautiful thing really. At the same time I wanted improve and needed honest opinions about my bread. Friends are always nice to you. And everyone likes free food.
So I started to trade.
The Idea is very simple. I bake white yeast-free sourdough bread (since it is pretty much impossible to buy in Berlin), and trade it with people for things that they can do better then I can. It can be anything, really. It does not have to be food related.
A good trade for me is when something is:
Made with Dedication. Like the lovely spreads and marmalade. Or the home grown herbs, and even eggs from the backyard. Photography of the baking process that I can use (I really need this right now actually).
Bought with good Intentions. Great examples are all the stuff people bring with them from their travels or hometowns. Like Vanilla from Madagskar, Special salts, good Flour, Austrian Wine, Flowers, Soaps.
Just something you are sitting on that might seem worthless to you but valuable to someone else. Like the 2 kg Quinces or the guitar lesson. Or the samples of headphones. The Book you just read (and really liked). Guestlist spots. Or help with repairing my bike.
My Bread is mostly Organic, but it is more important to me to use the best possible ingredients. I am very weak for local produced flour. I travel a lot and I do not mind bringing suitcases of food and ingredients with me home.
Personally I like my bread basic, but I play with my crust. We eat with all our senses. I like experiment in colors, sound and smell of the crust through using different salts, seeds, flour, leaves, fruits, flowers, or whatever I find beautiful, tasty or exciting.
What I do with my trades?
Well, most, I use somehow in the project again. That is why it turns into a little eco-system of its own. The bread is often baked with ingredients that was traded by other people before you. Some things I keep for myself. And some things I pass on to other people, where it suits better. Or arrange a dinner party based on traded products.
Why not selling?
One (of many) reasons is that you could probably not afford it. How would you value it? My sourdough takes at least 24 hour to make and I am folding it every 20 min the first hours – sometimes I put my alarm at night. And even if I zero-calculate my own work effort I am still using the best possible ingredients.
And I am more curious then interested in money.
Everything is not for sale.
If you like to take part, join my facebook group and send me a mail at malin(at)elmlid(dot)com