Saxton’s Home Bakery’s preparation and baking took place in my home kitchen, in Sheffield, with its domestic single oven. Baking days meant the secondment of much of the kitchen, whilst sacks of flour and other ingredients had their own cool, dry storage area in the converted cellar. The bakery existed to offer the local community the type of bread I enjoy and gain a great deal of satisfaction from baking.
Since getting the gift of a bread-making course at River Cottage I’ve loved making my own bread. Transforming flour and water into a crusty loaf is extremely satisfying, and although sourdough feeding regimes and the relative merits of kneading and moulding techniques may not interest many there can be few who aren’t drawn by the look and taste of good bread.
In the years since that first course, I enjoyed working at my baking to gain confidence in the bread I baked, its quality and consistency. I was helped immeasurably by Carrie Winger and her great courses at the Allendale Bakery in Northumberland, and also Tom Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery in Gloucestershire. Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s patisserie course at the School of Artisan Food at Welbeck Nottinghamshire was an inspiration for the sweeter side of my baking, and special thanks are deserved by Mat McCarthy at the Welbeck Bakehouse for helping me to absorb so much practical baking experience on my visit there.
In addition I have to credit the River Cottage Handbook on bread by Daniel Stevens, The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard, and How To Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou as being key references for my ‘homework’ and practice.