Bread is so much more than a global staple. Great bread, in its myriad variations, is a simple pleasure that should be shared by all.
We’ve already explored the mass production methods employed during the 20th century to maintain bread's status as the basic foodstuff sustaining a rapidly growing and increasingly urbanised population - and in the process, the distinctions between the original home-baked farmhouse loaf and the white-sliced ones found slumped on today’s supermarket shelves has been starkly illustrated.
Taking this into account, it’s unsurprising that an eventual backlash against the cheap yet flavourless and nutritionally inferior commercial loaf has led to a resurgence in artisanal baking and bread making.
However in more recent years the terms ‘artisan’ and ‘craft’ have become overused to the point of cliché, even adopted by many supermarket ranges, and these days in the world of baking, the term can often signify little more than a rustic-shaped loaf with some seeds on top.
For us however, the term ‘artisanal’ is defined by the measure of care and time, taken by masters of their craft, to create bread produced using traditional techniques and processes, and only the very best natural ingredients.
That’s why we’re delighted to get our daily bread from Speciality Breads. From their premises near the north Kent coast this artisan bakery make over a hundred different breads - yet whether it’s a rosemary focaccia, an olive and tomato ciabatta, a rustic French couronne, rich brioche, speciality sourdough or a good old-fashioned white cottage loaf, everything baked here contains one uniquely British ingredient: Marriage’s flour.
The Marriage family have farmed the nearby Essex countryside since the 1600s, and their master millers have been making white, brown, wholemeal, rye, spelt and barley flours, milled the traditional way on French Burr stones for generations.
Not only do these award-winning flours lie at the heart of everything Speciality Breads produce, but their quality, and the sustainability and traceability of their wheat mean that for several years now the company has not only been granted the sought after Red Tractor mark for food quality assurance, it has also proudly borne the symbol on it’s baked goods knowing that it is currently the only baker in Britain allowed to do so.
Thriving On Tradition
Alongside British staples and Mediterranean favourites, the company also take great pride in baking and supplying a particular speciality local to our native county; the Kentish huffkin.
The huffkin is a happy survivor of Britain's local baking tradition, from the days when every region, or even town, embraced its own local specialities rather than aping continental breads and pastries. A wide flat bread roll, about six inches across, a little under an inch thick and easily recognised by the signature thumb indentation made by the baker in the top of each, the huffkin is exactly the type of product ignored by Britain’s industrial bakeries thanks to the lengthy rising time required to create it’s signature soft crumb.
When made using regional stone-ground flour, by masters such as those found at Speciality Breads, the huffkin will also benefit from a softly yielding crust, which is achieved by wrapping the rolls in cloth while they cool from the oven.
It’s only one in a hundred delicious and meticulously products made by Speciality Breads, yet the huffkin encapsulates the ethos of quality and care, tradition and expertise, that we insist on when partnering with our each of our baked goods suppliers.