RBI Profile: Fiona Archibold of NaturallyWildSourdough

1. What led you to bake commercially?

One year ago I triumphantly pulled the first batch of 12 loaves from my trusty Rofco oven.  Naturally Wild Sourdough Microbakery was born from an invitation to bake by Fergal and Sally for @Moyhillfarm, Lahinch, Co Clare.  As they say the rest is history.  Dough making, bread baking and sharing evokes enormous joy in my soul.  Visceral, vital connections are formed through the simple art of baking, breaking and sharing bread.  I love it.  Streamlining the process, meeting Mother Nature under a tree or a dip in the sea feeds me personally as a baker, allowing me to engage on the intuitive plane sourdough bread calls for.  In essence it is another form of mothering and nurturing.  Sourdough bread is alive, responsive and receptive to environment, seasons, tides and I personally believe the moon.  It is so much more than bread – it is the embodiment of life. 

2. What’s the most rewarding part of your day? 

Bakery blessing ritual, artfully scoring loaves, ‘whatever the weather’ outdoor coffee for sunrise and dawn chorus, fresh loaf crackles, milling, mixing, blending Irish Grains in awareness of the intentional labours of the players preceding dough making.  Cultivating nourishing relationships with farmers, millers, fellow-bakers, producers and local businesses.  Feeding families, homes and hearts.  I love it all – baking bread is a rewarding life.

3. Where do you get inspiration from? 

Twenty-six years residing in ten culturally extremely diverse lands ranging from the Middle East to Mexico sandwiched by a decade in mainland Europe. Preceded by 26 years of Irish roots, training in 1999 with Darina @Ballymaloecookeryschool, where reverence for land, provenance and producer is ‘The Doctrine’.  My bakery and fervent love of creating 100%  Irish naturally leavened bread embracing grain from Irish Farms and Mills has become the means by which I’ve reconnected with Ireland my homeland having spent half my life away.

Baking is my DNA, my paternal grandfather was a baker the entire 50 plus years of his working life with Spicers Mill and Bakery, Navan, my Mother baked daily, and my Grandmothers, my Aunties.  Inspiration, I’ve observed and inhaled from humble bakers of ethnically exotic cultures immersed in community baking.  Puffy Arabic flatbreads from clay tandoors, Golden Mexican corn tortilla carts, posh pointy French baguettes, rustic field to market ‘pain au levain’ French miches, flaky Swiss strudels, impossibly huge airy Belgian powdery waffles.  Living above a rural bakery in Villefranche de Rouergue awoken pre-dawn with the comforting aroma of the daily bake and the subsequent scramble for warm butter croissants.  The paradox and impossibility of baking twice daily foccacia in our Ferrari F1 truck kitchen on the F1 Motor Racing Circuit during our reign as Champions 2000-2002.  

Inspiration unfolds as we welcome it in, embracing it like a cosy hug, basking in our life experiences, communing with nature, playing, experimenting and refining our craft.

4:  What are your plans for the future?

Championing the cause of the 100% pure Irish ☘️ Naturally Leavened Loaf. 

Our global food chain is damaged, social networks are under pressure, humans have never been more isolated and abandoned.  As bakers, millers, growers, producers and consumers we have a priceless opportunity to play an instrumental role in re-igniting food trust and security from the bounty of our own land.  Ireland is literally a ‘bread basket’ entirely self sufficient with an abundance of nourishing produce.  As a baker I create and share bread that is unique to our land composed entirely of Irish grown grain, seeds and bounty, bursting with beautiful complex grains our soil so valiantly sustains. By sharing our bread and knowledge, bread buyers and their children absorb the pure holistic nourishment of a thoroughly Irish loaf.  

I bake for families where the children choose this loaf over any other – mine own do too.  Families that had lost faith and stopped buying or eating any form of bread now stock up on half a dozen loaves at a time.  Children respond to the caramel-ly chewy slightly soft crust, fresh or toasted.  Our children know – they listen, observe, connect, choose and learn to discern.  My 100% Irish Grain loaf is a complex alchemy of wholegrain spelt, white spelt, naked barley from @oakforestmills, rye from @dunany, oats from @ballymoreorganics, salt and water.  

Behold the rise of the Pure Irish Naturally Leavened Loaf – there are infinite formulations out there.  Rise up and be part of the metamorphosis , witness the magic transformational power of our very own nourishing food from our own abundant land.

It is no coincidence that a local bakery is born out of a will to grow local vegetables – that’s the food chain embraced.  We meet as we buy – we connect with like minds, we share knowledge becoming the loving nourishing social network connecting through the timeless medium of bread.