Busy, busy, back to work and sooo nice to be back out on the road. One of my first stops for elevensies was Bircham Mill. A welcome coffee and delicious Belgian (Bircham) bun. Well worth a visit to buy bread if you are in North Norfolk.
I just drove home way too fast because I had a loaf of freshly baked bread in the back of my car.The smell was tormenting me and I wanted to cut myself a slice and spread it with butter.The loaf of Pakenham bread (made with Pakenham Mill flour) had just been baked by Mark Proctor from The Friendly Loaf Company which is based in Rede.The smell of a bakery always brings back childhood memories of visiting my Grandad in his bakery in Ixworth. Mark told me all about his Barm bread, which is an ale leavened bread.I'll try that next time. He also told me he has a job vacancy for a bakery assistant, to help him in the bakery and learn the art of breadmaking.Now that is a fine opportunity....
From the Pump Street bakery - a Bear's Claw - something I had never heard of or tasted before, orginating from the northern USA and Canada. It's so hard to choose from their selection of amazing bread, cakes, pastries and patisserie that we bought a box full of different things and half a dozen crisp fresh doughnuts filled with rhubarb jam and lemon custard. It made me want to say 'au revoir' when I left the shop.
Look at this for a cheese scone, it's colossal. It came from the new bakery and deli in St Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds. The bread looked very good and the cheeses represent East Anglia very well. The deli is called Gastrono-me. The only website link that I could find is via twitter on http://www.vanilla-bakery.co.uk/ - but here they are on facebook.
Real bread, please!
My grandfather, Jim Farrow, was a Master Baker and ran the bakery and post office at Ixworth for many years. His son David also learned this trade and makes his own fabulous bread every day although the bakery has closed. I remember it well; the warm yeasty smell, the size of the huge mixing bowls, the heat of the ovens and the mismatched lino...although my childhood fantasy of ‘choose what you like from the shelves bursting with cakes, sausage rolls and pork pies’ was never fulfilled, as Grandad only ever offered us things that were months past their sell by date. And as a result of having fresh bread at home all the time, I tried to be best friends with children who had white-sliced. But now I have seen the error of my ways I love a nice wholemeal loaf, and although I don’t always make my bread, I do try to buy it from smaller bakers who have survived the supermarket onslaught when I can. In this part of Suffolk we are lucky to have Palmers, their family still making fresh bread every day, but although I say it myself, they can't make Chelsea Buns like mine!
Paul Campbell is the founder of Local Food Direct, a social enterprise working to give local people access to local food produced in Norfolk and Suffolk. He contributes part of our feature here.
One of the things I have noticed recently is how few genuine bakers there are around – people making delicious, fresh bread from good ingredients and without preservatives. Real bread is skilfully made from four simple ingredients: yeast, flour, water and salt – and in sourdough there isn’t even any yeast! Compare that to the extensive ingredients lists that are impossible to decipher on the packaging of industrially produced bread – they are worlds apart. When we talk about something being “the best thing since sliced bread”, I’m not sure we’re really on the right track. I’d take a freshly baked rustic loaf with a flavoursome crust above a preservative-filled, generic, perfectly sliced bread any day – even if does require getting a breadknife out.
I was having a look online for some statistics to include in this post and I came across the Real Bread campaign (http://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/) It’s a lottery funded project run by ‘Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming’. I was interested to see that one of their criteria for “real bread” is that at least 20% of the ingredients are locally sourced – good on ‘em. Reading up on them I found the stats I was looking for – that 95% of bread in the UK is produced by a handful of industrial bakers and in supermarkets. The problem is that this bread is so over-processed that it’s not healthy any more, and has become part of the national problem of unhealthy eating. I recommend having a look at the Real Bread campaign’s “background to the campaign” page – it outlines the argument clearly. I see bread as another example of the shift our society has made away from local suppliers and towards mass-produced food – but I’m glad to say the tide is turning. We have more and more customers requesting ‘real bread’ with their deliveries and are really happy to work with Dozen Artisan Bakery in Norwich, where all the bread is baked using traditional methods and organic ingredients. As far as local produce goes, bread is one of the things that really is better when it’s bought locally – the closer you are to the oven it’s baked in, the fewer preservatives are needed, the better the ingredients will be, the fresher the loaf on your table will be and the better the taste.
So those of us who are the offspring of bakers, farmers and other food producers often take up these particular reins. The Telegraph recently featured ‘fresh young foodies’ and there were a few from Suffolk. Stephany Hardingham from Alder Carr Farm has developed a brand of ice creams – Alder Tree – which use the fruit from the pick your own business and the farm shop. ·And the Strachan family from Rendham have developed a specialist milk herd and supply milk from four farms to produce Marybelle products that include milk, yoghurt and ice cream and they sell it throughout Suffolk. These new food businesses are not just about profit, they are about putting a family and social responsibility first, and bringing delicious home-made food to our tables.
Have already been recommended for their sausage rolls. This place has everything, fresh and frozen. And their plants are good too. Mick the Baker makes the bread at the back and he said if I come back earlier next time he'll make me a cup of tea.
... have arrived in Suffolk. The Whoopie Pies are on the cover of the Sainsbury's magazine and for sale in M&S. The only ones I've eaten so far were my sister's who had made them weeks ago - being a keen food trend spotter. But my real new favourites are Macaroons - those French ones in all colours - on sale at Wyken Farmers Market - which means they are expensive, but probably worth it? Have a look at www.delicedeparis.co.uk
Often go to this bakers in Eye, just the thing to warm up after a cold morning out but would like to have more time to go to the cafe down the road - how is the coffee?