Landrace Bakery, Bath
It's hard to believe that less than 10 years ago it was difficult to buy a good loaf of bread in much of the UK. We all know why. The Chorleywood Process has a lot to answer for. Not just for propagating bad 'bread' but for turning it into such a cheap commodity that small independent bakeries couldn't compete with the fast, mechanised production process it introduced. Bakeries disappeared from the high street. It's been a long haul but now most towns boast a decent baker using traditional leaven methods of baking, though they'll most likely be found well away from the High Street. Many of us even make our own bread from time to time in homes where pots of sourdough starter rise and fall on many a kitchen work surface. But it's a time-consuming activity, and it's the time - the thing those Chorleywood scientists were so focussed on reducing - that really matters. Stripped of the hydrogenated fats, the flour treatment agent, the bleach, the emulsifiers and preservatives we are left with flour, water, salt, which requires an injection of time. With the return to basics, some bakers are now turning their attention to the quality of the ingredients, which means the grains - the growing, the milling and the using. And it's this, along with producing excellent bakes that is the focus of attention at Landrace Bakery which opened last week in Bath.
Producing naturally leavened sourdough from organic British-grown stone-milled flours they are already producing outstanding loaves with a moist crumb and really satisfying depth of flavour. It would be hard to think of a more intimate bakery. The baking is within easy ogling distance of the counter which is stacked with dough and pastry bakes. So if you're looking for lunch and can't choose between pumpkin and ricotta pastries or a Westcombe cheese toastie, you can keep an eye on the progress of the sausage rolls puffing up beautifully in the oven. There's a light-filled cafe area with a window which opens onto the street in summer.
at Landrace Bakery, Bath
Sourcing is clearly very important to Landrace Bakery. Ricotta and cheddar from Somerset's Westcombe Dairy, eggs from Cacklebean Farm in Gloucestershire, butter from Fen Farm Dairy, flours from Gilchesters Organics, chocolate from Pump Street, coffee from Workshop Coffee and fabulously fresh salad leaves from Bath grower Undercliff Urban Farm. It's an impressive ingredients list which Landrace Bakery are certainly doing justice to. For the moment they have a small milling machine to experiment with whole grains, and interesting plans for a "flour club" for customers.
You'll find Landrace Bakery close enough to the city centre but off the tourist drag, on Walcott Street. A few doors down from the Fine Cheese Company, Landrace fits perfectly into what's known as the 'Artisan Quarter' of Bath. On my visit locals were pitching up to try out the newcomer to the neighbourhood, and they seemed as taken with their new bakery as I was.
So why the name Landrace Bakery? Broadly speaking, 'Landrace' translates as a 'domesticated animal or cultivated plant which has, over a long period of time, adapted to the local natural environment in which it lives'. The name, I believe, tells you a lot about the intentions of Landrace Bakery. This place is only going to get better with time.
61 Walcot Street
Bath BA1 5BN