I have many fond food memories from childhood that are centred around bread: of devouring cheese and onion bread from the baker’s with creamy tomato soup as a Saturday lunchtime treat, or nibbling on slices of toasted wholemeal - spread with claggy margarine - for supper. Then as a young adult I fell out of love with the humble loaf. Given the freedom to cook whatever I wanted, I opted for different (and often more exotic) fare. Bread still played a role - as a filler or as a side dish – but rarely did I give it much thought or attention.
Until one day something changed. I discovered the excitement of organic vegetable boxes and weekly trips to our local farmer’s market, where I found a range of tasty produce as well as a different quality of bread than I had become used to from the supermarket. This was bread with depth and flavour. Bread that I wanted to be able to recreate for myself - to create new food memories - and to share with my family and friends.
Nearly twenty years later and I’m still passionate about real food that has been produced with love by actual people with their own unique story to tell about what, why, where and how they do what they do. I’m still obsessed with bread in all of its many forms and through books, courses, programmes and good old trial-and-error I’ve discovered the joy to be had in the baking as well as the eating.
Having recently returned home to the North of England, I’m currently focused on (re-)discovering and updating regional bread recipes for modern cooks and kitchens; at the same time uncovering a wealth of local, artisan producers from millers to honey-farmers to coffee roasters whose produce adds depth and intensity to my efforts.