That sweet, beautifully full aroma that permeates your sense of smell, tantalizes your palate and piques your interest is the scent of homemade bread baking in your oven. How did it get there? Is it a dream? It may be now, but it doesn’t have to be. Making bread is simple with quality ingredients, fine baking tools and help from your friends at Breadtopia.
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From Bath we visited Glastonbury on our way to the Cotswolds for a few days. On the way there we happened upon Bread & Beyond and of course couldn’t just pass it by.
We managed to actually not purchase more bread that we couldn’t possibly consume but had a nice chat with the lady working there and admired their vintage bread bins before heading on.
In Glastonbury, we picked up a couple small treats from the award winning Burns the Bread shop and picnicked on the grounds of the Church of St. John the Baptist. Sorry we didn’t get the thorn tree in the photo.
Our idea of the ideal lunch when traveling is to gather some of the local fare and find a nice place to sit outside. This occasion might have topped the charts with the sourdough durum baguette from Bertinet Bakery, cheddar cheese from its original birthplace in the nearby town of Cheddar, quince pate, locally grown strawberries perfectly sweet and tender, and a small quiche from Burns The Bread.
Then we burned some carbs walking up the Glastonbury Tor.
Hearing of our bread interests, our waiter one evening suggested breakfast at Sally Lunn’s. Sally Lunn baked for the local abbey in Bath from her home which is now the oldest residence in town.
The old kitchen in the basement is now a wonderful mini museum.
The buns are made from an dough enriched with butter and milk, so they’re a kind of brioche I suppose. Denyce had the lemon curd and I the cinnamon butter.
The wooden trough in the museum is where the dough ingredients were mixed, kneaded and left to mature. When the dough was ready, large lumps were cut out, placed on top of the trough and divided into loaf shapes. These were put on proofing boards, covered with sacking and allowed to rest again for about an hour before baking.
Generations of bakers used the original bread oven (the black box to the right of the open oven). It was heated with bundles of spindly branches about 5 feet long, called faggots, that were placed in the back and sides of the oven. They burned well and generated a lot of heat which was stored in the stone of the oven.
Denyce and I are celebrating 20 years of nuptial bliss with a trip to England. As with many of our travels, this one is also morphing into something of a bread themed adventure. Amazing how that happens.
The whole of the U.K. has enjoyed an amazing bread renaissance over the past several years. I think due in large part to the efforts of Andrew Wheatley, one of the founding members of The Real Bread Campaign, created to bring quality bread back to Britain.
Our first visit was to Hastings to visit our friends, Emmanuel and Lisa Hadjiandreou and their charming son, Noah. Emmanuel teaches at the School of Artisan Food and is the author of How to Make Bread and Making Bread Together. It’s such a treat to soak up some of Emmanuel’s vast bread knowledge. His generosity is boundless. Our first destination was Bath (here in Bath as I write this) where Emmanuel connected us with award winning baker and author, Richard Bertinet. Richard has been teaching bread baking in Bath for 10 years. Their very first class from Richard’s new book, Patisserie Maison, was starting the morning we visited.
You needn’t venture outside of Bath to enjoy the pinnacle of artisan bread. Between the Bertinet Bakery and The Thoughful Bread Company, we were blown away. Duncan Glendinning, author of Bread Revolution, combined his two passions, sustainability and slow food, in founding The Thoughtful Bread Company. His store, tastefully decorated with reclaimed material, and his truly artisan bread reflect those passions well.
I would have loved to sample their photogenic beetroot sourdough. Instead we opted to order a couple of their amazing made to order sandwiches for a picnic lunch.
Breakfast the next morning at at Sally Lunn’s buns, famous for its historic if not culinary interest, concluded a fascinating visit to Bath. From a purely bread perspective our trip could have almost ended there.
Oh, so much bread, so little stomach capacity.