Six of the best artisan bread-makers from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 16:02 08 October 2012 | UPDATED: 13:29 24 October 2015
Man can live by bread alone, says Tony Greenway
Bread. There’s nothing quite like it. And when I say bread I don’t mean a weedy, mass-produced sliced loaf from your local supermarket, complete with dents where it’s fallen off the conveyor belt. No, I mean handmade bread that’s lovingly produced by local artisan bakers; warm, light brown and delicious from the oven, bread which smells divine, cracks satisfyingly when you break it and is best eaten with great dobs of fresh butter.
There are downsides to bread, admittedly. Bread can in no way be described as ‘a slimming aid’, of course (a second on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, remember) but in this county of ours it’s not always easy to say no to some of the best bread makers in the business. And we have many.
Of course, man cannot live on bread alone. But in Yorkshire, faced with an astounding array of top bakery talent, it might be fun to try. So here are my top six.
A friend of ours swears by this one and gets his Fiesta Corn Loaf from Walkers every Saturday (Walkers only bake this particular variety on a Friday and Saturday). Others to test include the sourdough, the sun-dried olive and tomato, the Prokorn and the ryebread. This last one, by the way, is made with 71 per cent rye and 29 per cent wheat, which means it’s not heavy like some ryebreads I could mention.
4 Water Street, Skipton.
Botham’s of Whitby
Famous and family-run business, bread-making since 1865 and whose plum bread is legendary. Botham’s Yorkshire Brack is also rather fine and incredibly popular although, nit-pickers, not exactly bread (it’s a beautifully moist tea loaf, in fact). Still. Do give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
35/39 Skinner Street, Whitby
Run by Alistair Lawton, Via Vecchia — an Italian artisan bakery in the UK’s quaintest street — might well produce the best bread you’ve ever tasted (ciabatta, rosemary and garlic, focaccia, etc, etc). Alistair couldn’t tell me his most popular seller because his entire stock is sold on a daily basis and then he simply shuts up shop and prepares for the next day’s baking. ‘It hasn’t changed much over the years,’ he says when I ask him why his business is so in-demand. ‘I keep it simple. People like that.’
6 The Shambles, York
How about this for a sister act? Debbie and Jennie Masters make fabulous speciality breads and, after expanding their business, now run a cafe and tea room, too, in Snaith, near Goole. Debbie had the idea for Kitchen in 2004 while she was working as a waitress at Bettys in York and, when she was starting out, had to bake all the bread she produced in the Aga in her kitchen. Business is blooming and the bread is still fantastic. Go, girls.
10-12 Market Place
The Handmade Bakery
The Handmade Bakery points out that the average industrial loaf takes 90 minutes to make. The bread they produce, meanwhile, takes between 16 and 24 hours. Indeed, The Handmade Bakery is a bona fide good idea — a community supported, not-for-profit workers’ co-operative which produces marvellous bread. It’s most popular recipe is the Sleepless White Loaf, but don’t overlook the Yorkshire Leaven Loaf, Pain de Campagne and Malted and Seeded Granary.
Unit 6, Upper Mills, Canal Side, Slaithwaite
Food for Thought
A bakery that has forged a big reputation in a small amount of time, mainly because all the bread it produces is made with organic flour from Yorkshire Organic Millers and Shipton Mill and using traditional methods of slow fermentation. Loaves include olive, lemon and herb; three flour cob and Yorkshire spelt sourdough. Their produce is available at various venues including Castle Howard. Food for Thought is also running baking classes in 2012 (although these are popular and sell out quickly).