Another successful Xmas biscuit baking day 2018

A few of us met to plan the day a couple of weeks before – we chose 12 types of biscuits to do and worked out the necessary ingredients. To save time, we made an order at Sainsburys and planned a delivery. All this was very helpful. Carolyn did a spread sheet; Helen worked out an order for the day and organised the recipes; Moira did a costco shop for some of the ingredients; Natasha ordered organic lemons and limes from Riverford; Oblaten, vanilla/almond essence, redcurrant jam, rum and vanilla sugar were in our cupboard. Between us all, we had everything we needed. On the day, December 5th, the day before St Nicholas, there were 12 of us with a few additional helpers like Theo, the baby, and Daisy, the dog.

We also had special Iranian visitors Arezoo & Mehdi who really didnt know what they were letting themselves in for but unquestioningly joined in & worked very hard. We had very conscientious focussed workers and those who preferred to take their time and make works of art. It was a helluva lot to do and we miscalculated the gelee ringe ingredients and ended up with 376 instead of 120….but somehow managed to complete the big task we’d set ourselves and cleared up by 6pm – after a 9a.m start. Very very exhausting and each year I forget how tiring it is….

Recipes (& spreadsheet) will follow




Message to all the bread circle

November 8th 2018
Dear All, I just want to acknowledge the donations we get from time to time. So recently we had a whole ream of paper for the breadnotes donated by Claire G., and Karen and Steve took the trouble to get us rather special flour all the way from Woodbridge Tidemill. Also, I want to acknowledge that we get sometimes very odd amounts of money in the Whale and sometimes more than I expect which must mean that people are putting bigger than usual donations in. And of course today we have used sprouted spelt flour courtesy  of ‘Rude Health’ which normally would have cost us £20.00 plus postage. All this generosity makes the task of keeping going so much easier, but most of all I really value the contribution of the volunteers which is just magnificent.
& a message from Karen
And I would like to add… heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteers for their seemingly tireless task of making and baking such glorious bread for all of us every week …



We recently visited Highgate Cemetery (mainly to see Marx) but we came across this grave too (and many other interesting ones). Stoney patented Hovis bread and contributed tremendously to improving public health in 1886 by popularising wholemeal bread in Britain. However, since then the recipe that is used by the company has undergone many revisions together with the industrial development of bread production which has made it potentially less healthy…….

Fig & Blackberry Jam

As bakers and bread circle members know, we had  many figs on our tree outside the bakery this year. They were wonderful and with it also being a great year from blackberries, I wanted to make fig and blackberry jam again. This recipe came from Paloma of Tiny Marmalade who I have quoted here before. I’m putting the recipe down because others may want to try it and its great if we can share recipes.

500gr (approx) fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
300gr (approx) fresh blackberries
Zest peel of one lemon
Zest peel of one orange
1 freshly squeezed lemon
500 gr granulated sugar
(I’ve only got one jar here but we did make a lot more!)
Add all ingredients to a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss to combine and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and allow mixture to cook for 40 minutes, or until the jam reaches a thick consistency that moves quite slowly on a chilled plate.
Move to desired jar(s) and allow to cool completely before refrigerating.


Greetings from a baker on holiday in France

One of the bakers spotted this when in Amiens, in France and sent it to Michael.


Translation (as best I could): Eating good bread is essential for good health. Moreover, it is so much better with cheese or strawberry jam that it is impossible to live without. The baker must get up very early, even before the hens and it is not easy…..

what a brilliant bread oven – couldnt we have one like this?


Baker’s lunch in Tattenhall

 Today’s is the plain white loaf, made with approx. 1/3 of Walk Mill high extraction flour and 2/3 of Shipton Mill  white Canadian bread flour, with the usual additives of lots of water, sourdough starter, salt, breadspice and yeast. The starter was prepared by Lesley, dough mix by Claire and Debbie (who also very kindly took care of several parcel deliveries including more sunflower seeds for the next seeded bread!), and shaping and baking was done by Angela, Ellie and Michael. We had a trial of wire shelves instead of glass shelves in the fridge and it did make a difference with more even temperatures. However, there still was more rise on the top shelves than the cooler lower shelves, so we now need to find a fan that can be put in the bottom of the fridge to see if this evens out the temperature more. The dough was well behaved and easy to work with. Other than that we can report that last Friday Natasha had a baby, Theo, and she, Philip, Benji and their two dogs came with their two-day old baby on an outing of all the bakers to Tattenhall Hall were we had lunch and admired the gardens courtesy of Chris and Jannie who are committed occasional members of the bread circle. It made for a great outing! And some people are awaiting their children’s/grandchildren’s GCSE results with anxiety – good luck. Enjoy your loaf. Greetings from the bakery team.52cf81e2-0bc3-4b94-aa55-61bd2edcbecc.jpg


The story of Hobbs House bakery

‘My grandfather, David Herbert, grew up a baker’s son. He used to tell us that on cold winter nights he would sleep in the warm bakery on top of the dough trough. Baking needed to start before the cock crows, and this was before alarm clocks were around. The warmth from the heat of the wood oven made the dough inside the trough rise slowly, tipping him off when it was time to start baking. Back then yeast was expensive so, by using just a tiny bit, dough made in the evening would rise really slowly overnight, ready to make a perfect loaf by morning’.