They’ve got a range of sourdoughs and some more traditional English yeast breads; there are rolls, baguettes, croissants, pastries, cakes and biscuits. There’s the Spotty Wombat, named by Steve’s Australian wife Hannah. “We name all our breads. Our wholemeal sourdough looks like a wombat, and when we added sunflower and pumpkin seeds to the mix it just had to be the Spotty Wombat!”
I asked Steve what’s different from the supermarket breads baked in-store. On the radio recently I heard those bakeries described as ‘loaf tanning salons’. Steve would agree. They aren’t selling real bread. Everything is speeded up, with a baking sequence of less than two hours. And to do that, they add all sorts of ‘improvers’ that aren’t doing our health any good at all. On top of that, they use mediocre quality flour and fats.
Steve explains that real bread baking is a long process. “We start the sourdough fermentation at 4 o’clock each afternoon. Then we come in at 2 o’clock the next morning to start the day’s baking ready to go on the bakery shelves at 8 am. We’ll get the traditional yeast breads out first; the sourdough takes a bit longer – around 9 hours from start to finish.” It’s a long day. In between baking the loaves, they fit in the pastries, cakes and biscuits.
I haven’t worked my way through all of his range yet, but so far everything has been outstanding – really delicious. And it's excellent value for money, when you take into account the quality of the ingredients and the artisan approach to baking. This is the kind of bread I want to eat every day. As for the croissants…. I asked a French visitor from Slow Food UK what he thought of them: “Marks out of ten? Nine and a half, and that’s only marked down because you bought them yesterday. The best I’ve eaten outside France!”
They won the EDP Baker of the Year food award last year, in their first year of trading. Fingers crossed for this year, Steve says. It’s not just his bakery that’s local, by the way; he's a local Norwich boy, trained at City College before going on to travel to Australia as a baker and returning to set up his artisan bakery here in the city.
I’m just off to buy one of his baguettes for lunch. Don’t worry – if you can’t get there yourself, you can buy his wonderful bread online at http://www.welovelocalfood.co.uk/.