The Tiny Bakery

February 27, 2014

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Clarendon Park is pleasant little part of Leicester. It’s a densely packed, prosperous area set strategically between the posh bits of Knighton and Stoneygate and Leicester University.

The peace and calm of its shopping area has recently been ruffled by the imminent arrival of a local Tesco. But the independents who still predominate on the Queen’s Road are not giving up. In fact, there’s a heart-warming story of a new opening.

The Tiny Bakery, which opens on 1 March, is in fact located right next to the Megagrocer at 98 Clarendon Park Road. It’s everything Tesco isn’t  – local, artisan, handmade, transparent. It’s founded by Lindsay Abraham, a local woman who’s been baking cakes for friends and for local cafes such as Fingerprints for a few years. She will now be selling her own cakes, and has teamed up with David Belcham, another local baker who supplied local shops with artisan bread using the moniker One Man and his Loaf. He jumped at the chance at moving from a home baker to a small scale commercial operation. Add in a local pastry and patisserie specialist and you’ve got a team of people raring to go to supply people with high quality baked goods.

“Actually, I don’t think Tesco is competition,” says Lindsay.  “We know people are looking for good bread, and if you want lovely bread and beautiful cakes, you don’t go to Tesco”. Quality of course comes with a price and the bread and cakes will be more expensive (but much  better for you) than the Chorleywood loaves and trans fats doughnuts common at supermarkets, but they are sure the demand will be there.

“People will have a choice to make,” says David. “If it’s good enough, people will be prepared to spend a bit more”.

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“The difference is in the taste” – Lindsay Abraham and David Belcham talk bread

Their premises were formerly a chocolatiers and most recently used by a wedding cake specialist. Lindsay has kitted out the rear bakery with commercial mixer, fridge and oven and the front shop is being transformed into a stylish little café. To begin with the shop will be selling “everyday” loaves from Evington’s Ethel bakery, supplemented  by handmade speciality loaves from David, using flour from Leicestershire’s Claybrooke Mill.  Expect wholemeal, multi-seed and rye to begin with, but the glory of this kind of operation is that they can be nimble and responsive – as customers let them know what they want, the bakers can respond with spelt, sourdough, whatever. At least one day a week there will be gluten-free loaves available.

Lindsay will be supplying cakes, cookies, macaroons, meringues and cream cakes and there will also be croissants, pain au chocolate and Danish pastries. There’ll be coffee supplied from the excellent St Martin’s Tea and Coffee, and just a few seats where you can take a few minutes out to relax.

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Kitting out the Cafe

“Clarendon Park already has a great butcher plus greengrocers, delis, chemists and so on. Now it will have a place for great bread and cakes, so it will in effect be a one stop shop – people won’t need to go to a supermarket,” says Lindsay. “It’s what people want. We’ve already got 330 likes on Facebook before opening  – and that’s not just my friends! – and we’re happy to compete on quality. The difference is in the taste.”

* The Tiny Bakery opens on Saturday 1 March. It will be open from 8.30am to 4pm (later on Thursdays), six days a week.

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Real Bread

May 4, 2012

If there’s one way in which my diet has changed in the last two years, it’s that I eat a lot more bread. There’s several reasons for this. One is that is that since I went freelance (aka “was made redundant”), I’ve been working from home and thus am looking to eat breakfast (never used to bother) and to make a decent sarnie at lunchtime.

The other, more significant, reason is that the supply of decent bread has grown significantly enough to bring home both how unpleasant (or at best bland) most bread I’ve ever eaten has been, and also just how tasty it can be. The bread I had last month at The King’s Arms in Wing was absolutely a highlight of the meal, while the butter-drenched manchet I had for breakfast today from Hambleton bakery in Oakham was a fantastic start to the day – half breakfast roll, half lovely cakey brioche. I’ve also really enjoyed the Leicestershire beer and honey loaf from Lucy’s Foods in Stoneygate produced by Knighton Kitchens.

Foccacia by Leicester Born and Bread

A key part of this virtuous circle of building demand and supply for real bread (let’s make that Real Bread for now), has been the rise of domestic bakers, spreading the word and baking loaves for friends and neighbours on small-scale commercial basis. One such who I have written about here before is my pal Jessica who runs Leicester Born and Bread. She informs me that next week (May 7 to 13) is Real Bread Maker Week – an initiative of the Real Bread Campaign to get even more people  into baking lovely traditional-process, additive-free breads. Jessica is offering 10 per cent discount on her bread making classes booked during the week – if you want to know more go to the website or call Jessica on 07957 726308. Even if you remain sceptical about wanting to get floury yourself, the week is surely a good opportunity to try something new new or different from a real baker.

Update

I forgot put a link to a song from the wonderful Natalie Squance, Leicester’s finest folk-tinged singer and guitarist. Her song The Baker is a dryly funny tale about a sexy French boulangere with commitment issues (he’s not just a baker, no he’s a heart-breaker) and this post seemed a good opportunity to give her a plug – so have a listen or better still download or buy the cd  – http://natalie-squance.bandcamp.com/track/the-baker

Born and Bread

September 3, 2011

A reminder that as of Thursday, Leicester Born and Bread is now up and trading and providing handmade, small-batch bread for the Leicester masses.  Jessica has now added prices to the website and is also now using organic flour from the Whissendine windmill in Rutland.  You can pick up the likes of a small white sandwich loaf for just £1, half a dozen cheese and spring onion rolls for £3.50 or a herb fougasse for £2.50.

Leicester Born and Bread

August 3, 2011

Jessica from Leicester Born and Bread

I’ve been following my friend Jessica’s Facebook posts as she’s been trying out various adventurous  bread recipes. What I hadn’t realised was that she was preparing to launch herself on the Leicester public as our latest artisan breadmaking business. Leicester Born and Bread – do you see what she’s doing there?- is offering handmade, preservative-free loaves on a local basis. Heck if you live in the West End of Leicester she might even drop it round by bike.

As a committed vegetarian Jessica  might miss out on some of life’s great pleasures, but it does mean bread – good bread, healthy bread – is especially important to her.   Hence she’s developed a really exciting  product range which will complement many different meals – from everyday white or wholemeal loaves to speciality breads such as rosemary and sundried tomato soda bread, pumpernickel and sesame and chilli cornbread. Sweeter options such as courgette and walnut loaf are also available.  Jessica uses Doves Farm organic flour.

I don’t think she officially starts trading for a couple  of weeks,  so in the meantime,  take a look at the lovely website – http://www.leicesterbornandbread.co.uk – and start thinking about what you might fancy ordering.

Our daily bread?

December 4, 2009

I’m not generally over bothered about bread. But I was impressed with the sourdough on offer at last weekend’s feast at Hambleton Hall. So much so that when visiting my friend Jenny’s pub in Langham (The Noel Arms – drop in if you’re passing, I’ve seen the kitchen, it ‘s all tickety-boo), I called in at Hambleton Bakery in Oakham to get  a loaf. At £2.30 for an 800g loaf it’s not cheap but it’s a thing of beauty both inside and out. Baked in a wood fired oven, it’s crusty but yielding and gratifyingly floury,  the texture is springy like a crumpet, and the smell is wonderful. It has that distinctive tangy, sourdough taste  but it is mild. It’s flavourful enough to enjoy on its own with butter, but it’s not overpowering and I’m looking forward to trying it with some  powerful, complex  Quicke’s vintage cheddar.

We’re assured that the artisan production techniques mean the loaf will keep for around a week, toasting up nicely even after that. Can’t see it lasting that long.

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