The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A British Baker

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Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

A British Baker

Hello Everyone!


My name is Andrew.


Livng in the UK,  Yorkshire to be precise.  East yorkshire to be evan more precise


I am a trained, time served Baker.   I had the good fortune to cut my bakery teeth in the scratch,  craft sector.  Not many of us left and I am so pleased I went down this route early on.  Not many people are any good at hand molding these days  ! 


I Stopped being a baker a few years ago,  went into further education,  as?  A Bakery Lecturer of course!  Then due  to  redundancy was gently forced into being a chef for a living.  I now do agency cooking and supply teacherwork in Food Tech.


I have yeasty blood however,  cant stay away from bread!  I am very Pro traditional British baking.  I think it is very underrated and love to talk about and demonstrate its virtues.


I absolutely love challenges, so anyone who has a bread quandry, please, please contact me


 


Hope to hear from you all soon.


 


Andrew  S.

Chausiubao's picture
Chausiubao

Welcome!


Its nice to see professionals visiting the site. I'm currently training to enter the industry and would be very interested if you could explain a few things about traditional British baking!


Also, what exactly do you mean by the craft sector?


I've always though putting a good dough together is relatively easy, but shaping a good loaf is quite difficult.


--Chausiubao

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello All!


Hello Chausuibao.


First of all, a little bit of an apology, if the odd baker's or trade term is used.  I really try not to and have a big dislike for such behaviour.  Culinary snobbery in any discipline gets by back up Immediately!  I do still say things like " I need to get my meez finished" though.  Sorry again.


When I said craft sector, I was referring to comparitevely small scale, often family run bakeries.  They tend to have very little mechanisation, the majority of product is made and handled manually.  Better raw materials are generally used as competition on price with a mass product isnt viable, so quality wins out.  The price, of course, reflects this.  Another big difference is the level of skill, experience and individual knowledge of rthe staff.  I was able to tell who had molded a dough piece or who slashed the dough prior to baking.


Hand molding is something difficult  to get to do without practically trying it.  Brirish molding styles are diferent from, French or Artisan styles with a large hydration %


I am planning to do a series on Traditional British fermented goods and if anyone has a favourite I would like to hear from you.  My first will probably be Bloomers or cottage loaves as I have been asked for some crusty British breads.


Hope to hear from you soon.


Andrew  S.

Chausiubao's picture
Chausiubao

Thanks, like others I'll be looking forward to you describing the differences between British methods and the French methods we've become accustomed to.


 


--Chausiubao

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Dear Andrew,


It's good to hear from a British professional baker. Coming from Cumbria, although now living closer to London, I am aware that there is a long term tradition of high quality artisan baking in the North of England, so was glad to read your offer to share your knowledge of British artisan breads.


if you are planning online tutorials or advice I would be glad to learn about British techniques for shaping and slashing dough. This is an aspect of baking that I am just getting into and most of the information that I can find refers to French techniques. I am interested in the latter but would also really like to find out about British practices.

nhayford's picture
nhayford

Hello Andrew


I hope the online british Bread baking tutorials would be available soon. I personally love soft bread..especially the baps. Do you have a formula that would help me produce sweet soft bread as well as baps? Thanks.


 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi nhayford,


Don't know if you caught it but the Scottish bap tutorial is online already?


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17037/scotch-baps


Kind regards, Daisy_A

joyewils's picture
joyewils

My husband is from Romford, Essex and would LOVE a receipe for a real nice crusty bread.  He has tried many recipes without being happy with the results.


Thanks so much!!

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello All !


Hello Joyewils.


Right then,  I do like a task to tackle.


First of all, how do you mix?  Hand,  Machine,  Type of machine.


What type of oven?  Gas,  Electriic,  Fan assist,  Combination etc.


Are you able to steam your oven?  If you can,  as much info as possible please.


Can you get hold of Very strong flour?  100% Canadian works well for oven bottom and crusty styles.  French type flours have fantastic extensibility from the Gliadin levels, You really want a higher Glutenin level, hence Canadian flours .  Fresh yeast also please.


Good scales with accuracy for small amounts,  a digital thermometer  available as well.


How much do you want to bake in one go?


I thought some London Bloomers made with an overnight sponge and dough process would be a good start.  A more simple process than the title suggests.  The times are easy to handle as well, almost to the minute after a couple of goes.


Please get back to me as soon as possible with the info.  I intend to do a batch and take pics as well so what I do and describe will be the same as you wil be doing.


A quick note on mixing.  Good hand mixing can give a much better Gluten development than a machine mixer.  If you dont have a machine, be a little smug with the fact that your doughs may well be better mixed, havent become too heated during mixing and you will have burnt a few calories off as well. 


Regards,


Andrew  S.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Andrew.


Welcome to TFL!


Although there are a number of UK members, we don't hear a lot about traditional English breads. I'm looking forward to your contributions.


I'd love to see your cottage loaf and hear more about the differences between English and French techniques, from your vantage point.


David

firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

Hello Andrew; always nice to see another Brit.


When I was growing up in London the Bloomer was the bread of choice closely followed by Hovis [usually on Sunday]. I particularly remember that Hovis used to produce a mini loaf, roll size, but it was an exact copy of the standard size loaf.


Cottage loaves were a bit of a rarity, but very nice when you could pick them up.


Peter

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello Everyone!


Hello Peter.


Yes I know what you are referring to.  They were traditionally called penny loaves.


I worked in a bakery on a farm called Tithe Farm, which is in North Ferriby, East Riding of Yorkshire. (The term Tithe, by the way refers to links with the church and landowners and is a corruption ot the word tenth.  A tenth of the harvest wes given up to the landowner as payment.


Anyway, I baked these tiny loaves, not just Hovis but all my tin bread types.  They were very popular for dinner parties and entertaining.  I have a sneaky feeling that children and peckish mums claimed more than their fair  "tithe" though!


I am trying to get hold of some tins right now. so I will keep you posted.


Back to Bloomers, Can you tell me if the crust was traditionally thin and crispy, or thick, crisp but chewy also?  I always went for the satisfying chewy option but would love to know what the real London version was like.


Take care peter and thank you for the jolt to my memory!


Regards,


Andrew  S.

bakinbuff's picture
bakinbuff

Nice to "meet" you Andrew.  =)  I live in the UK, complete novice/home baker, but started baking my own bread after reading a bit about how commercial bread is produced.  I read about something called the Chorleywood method, that can make use of low protein bread, combined with chemical improvers, and this is used to produce something like 80% of the UK's commercial bread?  I realise you are/were involved in a very different area of baking, but wondered if you know much about this?  I figured that baking our own bread, even from store brand flour (I grind my own wholewheat flour but use strong white bread flour with it) is much better for our family than store bought bread, because even the fresh bread in supermarket bakeries is made from mass produced dough.  It seems to me this bread must have a significantly reduced nutritional value compared to home prepared bread (sourdough, no added commercial yeast) which has a long fermentation period and the presence of lactobacilli which partially digests the gluten and makes it more digestible for us.  Do you have any thoughts on this?

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello Everyone!


Hello Bakinbuff.


The Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) isn't the monster it is sometimes portrayed to be. 


Basically, it makes use of a High energy mixing input over a short period of time.  An oxidiser, usually Ascorbic Acid.  Vegetable oil or Fat at around 1% of flour weight also goes in the mix.  Perhaps a bit of soya flour to emulsify and abit of vinegar, Acetic acid to inhibit moulds.    All So good so far?  Well yes really,  the "inferior" wheats used for such production are easy for the farmer to grow, dont travel half way around the world and give us a cheap loaf to keep us all full and happy with


Downside?  Well yes, chemicals, proprianates for shelf life are sometimes pumped in.  A bad example of a budget sandwich loaf is as dire as can be.  They will be almost devoid of aroma, lacking a crust and has very little flavour and please dont even try to compere with your breads.


Nutritionally, they are all very similar and our intestines can cope admirably on the whole with bread of any variety.


Whats the snag then?  Obvious really, Bread addicts need to bake!!!!  We control it all.  The big joy of mixing, ingredient choice, the interest, research, smells, tastes.  Who would want to buy a loaf?  Not me or you for sure.


I eat shop bought bread without a bad mood hitting me.  I am just reminded of the absolutely vast difference my own bread has to the commercial product.


As I have said before,


Go Forth And Bake.


Regards,


Andrew S

Doughtagnan's picture
Doughtagnan

Well said, old chap! Cheers, Steve

firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

Andrew,


The Bloomer we used to get was covered in poppy seeds and had a crisp firm crust, not what I'd call crunchy, just crisp.


Peter

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello Everyone!


 


Hello Daisy A.


My first little tutorial will be Scotch Baps.  I think this will be useful for a few reasons.


Hand mixing - It works better than you think


Single, Bulk fermantation - It tastes better than you think


Hand Molding - It is easier than you think


Room Temperature, Dry proof - It does have its benefits


It was the first bread I made as a Bakery Student.  Still remember it vividly!


 


I will hopefully be doing and recording over the weekend.  Please be patient with me!


Regards,


Andrew  S.


 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Looking forward to the Scotch bap tutorial, particularly as it features hand mixing - hands being the only type of mixer I have currently! Will you give a baker's percentage so the recipe can be scaled or do you think this is not needed?


Regards, Daisy_A

Zeb's picture
Zeb

Hi Andy


What dough would you recommend for a classic cottage loaf?  And is there any foolproof method for stopping them toppling over?


Here are some I made last year following a happy weekend in West Wales with Rick of Mairs Bakehouse and friends, but I haven't tried since. And, I can't remember what sort of dough I used. (that's embarassing, and I have no notes) I always find the dough gets a bit tough in the middle around the area where the two balls are 'welded' together, is that just a characteristic and inevitable result of the shaping process do you think?


Zeb - an english home baker



 


Edit: I couldn't find this post again, so I started a blog on this forum.  Hope that's ok?    I've had another go at the cottages over the weekend and this time I used Elizabeth David's suggested yeast dough and baked from a cold oven, interesting as the top stayed much rounder and more even, not sure I like the crumb as much.   Zeb

Rhona's picture
Rhona

Hello Andrew


 


Great to hear from you.  I am planning setting up a craft bakery and live in North Yorkshire.  I have been on courses (have another one booked, made my own bread oven in the garden last year  and have been baking madly over the last year and am reading everything I can get my hands on.  I also took over some friends teaching kitchen to see how to work in a bigger space.  The thing I am missing is real experience of being an artisan baker.  Any hints and tips you can provide, or any thoughts on any craft bakers who might be happy for me to visit and see what they do would be very welcome.


 


 


 


Rhona


 


 

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello Evaryone!!


Hello Rhona.


You are probably not going to like my advice.


Dont open a bakery to solely rely on the on its income


Get a job in a bakery,  Work for free if needs be


Do it for as long as you can.  Be certain its what you want.


I dont know Off hand of any one who would object to an enthusiast, as long as they dont get in the way.  You would need to hunt around.


At the  moment, I have time available as long as given some notice.  I will be happy to help as much as possible.  Please contact me if I can be of any hands on help or you need to rack my brains.


Take care, hope to hear soon.


Regards,


 


Andrew  S.


 


 


 


 

Rhona's picture
Rhona

Thanks Andrew


 


You will be relived to know that I won't be relying on a bakery entirely for my income - am looking at options:


1. Joining another business to add an extra dimension and draw for visitors and to share costs


2. supplimenting income with consultancy work


3.  focussing on value added products


 


Do you have any suggestions of really good craft bakeries that might tolerate a well behaved enthustiast/slave?  The Town Mill bakery in Lyme Regis makes the kind of bread I am aspiring to - anywhere closer to home?


 


Thanks


 


Rhona

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Hello Rhona.


 


I dont know of anyone who would tolerate a visitor to be honest.  Just put yourself around and be a polite nagger.  There is a post on here somewhere called the economics of fermentation.  It may shed some light on things.  If you have access to space and equipment, twist my arm a bit and I will come to you for a bit, gratis. 


 


keep me posted.


 


Regards,


 


Andrew  S.