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From Nottinghamshire to Jordan - baking bread across continents

Posted on January 05, 2016

Kareem Arafat from Jordan’s capital city Amman, attended our Artisan Bread Baking course in 2014, taught by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Follow his journey so far…

Little less than two years ago, I attended a baking course at your School. Back then, I was interested in doing a career move, and one thing I was exploring was baking bread!

I remember coming back to Jordan all pumped up after taking your baking course, all inspired by the values of real food and artisanal processes that you taught me and that of the people in your School. I clearly remember that black board in the breakfast/lunch room that was titled "our food" and you had spelled out how you see real food.

Of course, Emmanuel and David were amazing teachers. I consider myself so lucky to have been taught the principles of bread making by them. Emmanuel is amazing, and I say so because he not only teaches you how to make bread, but how to feel the dough and have fun making bread, and eventually how to fall in love with bread.

When I came back to Amman, I started baking in my home oven and selling it in one of the small farmers market in the city. I used to make 10-15 loaves a week. Then I started reading a lot about brick ovens and actually built one in my parent’s farm house in the basement which was unused.

Today I bake five days a week, around 1500-1800 loaves a month. I do all the kneading by hand and use wood or gas to heat the oven. I started selling through Whatsapp along with farmers markets, and then, I agreed with a tiny kitchen restaurant in the centre of the city to put my bread. I also supply five restaurants and cafes in the city. It's been now 16 months selling from the brick oven. And yes, I am totally sleep deprived and have perfected the art of sleeping in 15-minute intervals while the dough relaxes. :)

I use as much as I can local ingredients. My white flour is milled locally, but unfortunately imported most of the time from the US. But I also mix it with locally grown wheat that I buy from farmers near me, and I turn into whole flour in a nearby village mill. Salt is from Dead Sea. I do only two kinds of bread, ciabatta and country sourdough loaf.

Now I am thinking to start a bakery and become a licensed business! I am hoping to be able to hire women from poor pockets of the city to empower them economically and socially. Let's see where this will end up :)

End of the year is a good time to remember the people who were good to us. The School of Artisan Food has been a great place to learn and explore baking. Thank you for being who you are; thank you for the values you bring and the awesome people who mentor.

Love from Amman and keep doing what you do.

Kareem Arafat

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