The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello to all from the UK

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The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Hello to all from the UK

Hello to all from the UK,


As a new member I would like to introduce myself.


I grew up in Holland, but moved to the UK about 6 years ago.


One of the things I missed after moving to the UK was the high(er) quality bread and wide variety of whole grain breads. Rows and rows of crates with pale soft white prepacked factory bread with the odd loaf of foreign style whole grain loaf, usually close to expiry date. Not really appealing!


Since a few weeks I have a bit more time so started to experiment with making my own bread. I was surprised how difficult it was to get it very wrong. So far all my loafs have come out very reasonable. Ofcourse there is still much to learn and much to improve, but so far I have not produced bird food yet.


Once I have mastered the craft a bit more I would love to give the -dearly missed- dark wholegrain bread a try. I am still looking for a good recipe.


So far I find making bread very relaxing and satisfying. Using organic pure ingredients, kneeding the dough, and afterwards being rewarded with a lovely healthy loaf.


My quest for the next few weeks is to find a local organic miller and see if I can buy from him directly.


A few weeks ago I have started a rye starter and hope to bake my first sourdough loaf next week. The starter needs tweaking. I thought: how difficult can it be to create and maintain a starter. So I did it my way, which is clearly not the right way. In retrospect I have been starving the starter. I plan to feed it 3-4 times a day in the next few days till it does double in size.


By the way: this site and forum is absolutely great! I discovered it a couple of weeks ago and have learned heaps. Thanks to all who post here!


The Whole Grain

Noor13's picture
Noor13

Hello


Nice to find more members from the UK:)


I know what you mean when you talk about all the "nice" pre packed bread you can buy in this country. And I am really spoiled when it comes to bread being originally from Austria. This is why I started to bake my own bread, cause I just don't like what you can buy here.


Keep up the good work


Noor


 


 

The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Hi Noor,


For you moving to the UK must have given you an even bigger shock: Austria and Germany have a great bread tradition.


 

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

I'm sorry that you both find it difficult to get good breads in UK. There are some excellent examples and a wide range, you just don't find them on the common supermarket shelves or among mass produced bread - you wouldn't expect to.


The better supermarkets, Waitrose and Booths (in the north of England) has some great breads, a large variety. Smaller craft bakers also make a large number and variety of breads (not chains such as Greggs but independent ones). Our local farmer's Market has two bread bakers who have surprised me with their range and quality.


But no bread is as good as that which you make yourself, which is why I very rarely buy even the best bread.


If you shop at Waitrose have a look at what they have; keep your eyes open for small bakers. If you're prepared to make all your own bread just do it, I do but I have more time than many people.

The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Hi Mary,


I agree with you that there is good bread available in the UK. I have exaggerated, I admit. It is just not readily available.


On farmers markets I found great wholegrain dark bread. The problem is that one has to have the time to go to the weekly or fortnighly or even monthly market. Unfortunately no farmers market close to where I live. The loafs I have bought on the market were great, but very expensive. Quality doesn't come cheap I guess.


Buying at a local independent bakery is also an option, but again no baker -with easy parking- close by.


Tesco -'my' local supermarket- has a stonebaked sourdough which is quite good, and often I buy the Vogel's lineseed bread which is also not to bad.


I'll have a look at Waitrose who recently opened a store close by. Thank for that tip!


But for now I'd like to bake my own, master the craft, and only buy in case of emergency or extreme lazyness.


Whole Grain


 

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher


I'm glad you said that, all too often the UK is thought of as being the pits as far as good food is concerned and it certainly is not :-) I wonder where you are? I'd be happy to correspond privately - mary.fisher@zen.co.uk


Countries have different specialities, I know from experience that Iceland has fabulous bread which I couldn't hope to reproduce. But the famed Irish soda bread, to me, is awful. I'm not too keen on Italian breads, the ones I've had (we have a lot locally, I live in the immigrant part of my city) are insipid and the classic French bread leaves me cold. But Ukranian, Latvian and some Russian rye breads - and the OLD Jewish breads (they're not the same any more) are way beyond my making. I had some great bread in Washington State - and some awful stuff which was worthy of being sold in T*sc*.  T*sc* is a dirty word to good food lovers ... sorry.


UK and its constituent countries have their own superb and unique foods, too many to list. And there are some 'foods' - especially those on offer in supermarkets (which are cheap and therefore people buy) I couldn't bear to have in our house. If I were offered them in anyone else's house I'd consider it an insult - but I have foodie friends who think along the same lines as me. In other places I simply refuse.


> On farmers markets I found great wholegrain dark bread. The problem is that one has to have the time to go to the weekly or fortnighly or even monthly market. Unfortunately no farmers market close to where I live. The loafs I have bought on the market were great, but very expensive. Quality doesn't come cheap I guess.


No it doesn't Food of any kind is the last thing I'd economise on. we're state pensioners but we live very well. That is we eat and drink very well.


> Buying at a local independent bakery is also an option, but again no baker -with easy parking- close by.


Bus? I've used the parking reason (aka excuse) for not going to certain shops but there are some which are worth walking to - even with my arthritic hips.


> Tesco -'my' local supermarket- has a stonebaked sourdough which is quite good, and often I buy the Vogel's lineseed bread which is also not to bad.


I don't know them. Never even heard of Vogel ... I bought an organic linseed bread which tasted of putty (the linseed oil element) so wouldn't have it again but the same maker's sprouted wheat grain bread was so good that I had a go at making it myself. I mailed the company about how I'd done it (with wheat grains picked out of the chicken grain!) and was told I was on the right lines. I'd bought a small slow cooker for it and sprouted the grains in my honey/wax melting oven.


Nothing worth while is cheap or easy :-)


 > I'll have a look at Waitrose who recently opened a store close by. Thank for that tip!


Good, but ...


> But for now I'd like to bake my own, master the craft, and only buy in case of emergency or extreme lazyness.


That's the way to do it!


The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

 


I knew it was a bad idea to mention that store. :|


> And there are some 'foods' - especially those on offer in supermarkets (which are cheap and therefore people buy) I couldn't bear to have in our house. If I were offered them in anyone else's house I'd consider it an insult


Better announce in advance if you plan a visit here!


Trying to change my ways one step at the time.


Greetings from Oxfordshire.

ClaireC's picture
ClaireC

Hello from Yorkshire.  Which part of the UK are you in?


The big advantage of Tescos for breadbakers is that if you fancy experimenting with fresh yeast, rather than dried, then a Tesco instore bakery will give you a block of it for free, if you go in and ask.  I'd always assumed this was an urban myth and I don't know why they do it, but I've tried it and it really works!


Claire

The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Oh cool! Will give that a try. So they are not all that bad...  ;)


I'm from Oxfordshire.


 

The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Just returned from T, got some fresh yeast from the bakery.


100g almost for free: £0.20.


 

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

It's not their products, it's the way they treat their suppliers which make me antagonistic to the company. Most others are almost as bad though ...


I'm in Leeds, Yorkshire!


Mary

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Good Morning from a white Yorkshire - and still it snows. There will be the usual reports of closed schools and stranded motorists as if it were a surprise to have snow in winter :-)


We don't go out when it snows, I can think of very few times when it's essential. A stock of basic food items, candles and alternative fuels in case of power cuts mean that we could withstand a weather siege for months. As for driving in snow, we haven't done it since I damaged a vehicle by being veered into a forest of posts (a bus stop, speed limit sign, lamp post and telegraph pole) while I was travelling at five mph. I'm a very experienced driver and that added to my experience.


Food is the very last thing I'd economise on. I want the best quality for what turns into me, I want the best eating - flavour and texture- experiences. Free yeast is irrelevant when one makes sourdough breads, our leavening is always 'free'!


But 'cheap' food comes at a price - for the suppliers and the food itself - I'm thinking of the animals. I know many farmers who say that Waitrose is the only supermarket which treats them fairly, that's the reason I eschew all others. Animal welfare is of prime importance but it costs. To me organically produced cereals, vegetables and fruit are of equal importance but they cost. So what? 


To those who say that they can't afford it I'll say that we live - very well - on my husband's state pension and a very small one I have. We are seventy. I never had properly paid work, We brought up five children and believe me I know about poverty and the wage earner being unemployed. But food has never been skimped. Children who are picky have never been hungry. People who economise on food and yet still want material comforts have different values from mine.


So be it.