Robert Penn on bread – and the politics behind baking.
Robert Penn describes himself as a journalist, woodsman and lifelong cyclist, who has written some of the best craft-based books of recent years, including It’s All About the Bike, where he travelled the globe finding the best components with which to build his dream bicycle, and The Man Who Made things out of Trees, which told the tale of what he did with an ash tree that he felled in some nearby woods.
The titles tell a personal story, which Penn deftly combines with a broader history and, sometimes, a bit of science. But, really, they are all about the importance of making.
His latest is no different. A little like Ronseal, Slow Rise: A Bread Making Adventure, does exactly what it says on the tin. It has been described by writer, Jenny Linford, as ‘a wide-ranging, gloriously obsessive odyssey’.
Robert lives in the Black Mountains with his wife, three children, two spaniels, 12 bicycles and a collection of axes. He bakes his own bread in a wood-fired oven.
In this episode we talk about: writing a book devoted to bread; his fascination with the ordinary things that surround us; how a three-year, around-the-world cycling trip piqued his interest in baking; the relationship between bread and power; ploughing his own field with a horse; searching the globe for the right wheat seeds; seeking divine intervention; our obsession with white bread; and how industrial farming took such a wrong turn.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/materialmatters?fan_landing=true)