When we moved here, we were really happy to see that the local cluster of shops (useful stuff like Post Office, Chemist, Dry Cleaners, a small super market) that serves our neighbourhood also had one of a dying breed, a traditional baker’s shop, part of a small chain owned by a family business.
Sure, the bread wasn’t made in the shop, they had a more modern bakery in a light industrial unit about 30 minutes drive away which supplied all their shops and wholesale customers, but they sold great tasting loaves with a fantastic light texture and crispy crust.
My stomach really can’t hack cheap supermarket bread, either bulked up with high percentages of soy flour to help improve the consistency of the crumb, or made with more yeast than is necessary to reduce the time needed to prove. Both upset my insides, causing me bloating, discomfort and in some cases, pretty bad indigestion.
So I was delighted when shortly after moving here, the indigestion just stopped dead. The only thing which really changed in my diet was where the bread was coming from (aside from possibly the water coming out of the tap). I even tested this theory by eating regular mass-produced bread, and the gut rot came back within a few days.
Relieved to put a calmer stomach down to the nice crusty bread on my doorstep, it just reinforced all that was good about our new neighbourhood.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. While the bakery hasn’t closed down, it has recently changed hands, and is now being supplied by the new owners – still a small, local bakery, but it turns out, it isn’t quite the same.
Not to be daunted, we tried a few things from there over the last couple of weeks, only to feel let down.
The breads don’t look the same: uneavenly risen, with a pale and flaccid crust concealing a spongy, yet heavy, dense, interior, with a cotton-wool-like texture. Neither do they smell the same: there’s an overriding smell of yeast about the new owner’s bread.
The old owner’s recipe would go stale by going dry and hard, and would seldom go mouldy. The new owner’s bread goes mouldy, because it seems to retain the moisture for longer.
Sadly, this also extends to their pastries, which leave a feeling like the inside of your your mouth has been coated in a layer of vaseline (I guess they don’t use butter, but some sort of margarine or veg shortening) as well as being so sweet that you get the shakes.
While we’re glad that it’s stayed a bakery, rather than becoming yet another hairdresser, nail bar, beauticians or (our first!) fried chicken shop, we’re gutted that we’ve lost our supply of traditionally baked bread that was on our doorstep.