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’.


More Iranian flatbread

Mohsen’s Kurdish Komach flat bread 24-05-18. This is pronounced ‘komash’, and it is a typical dinner bread, often eaten with a bit of feta cheese. It was made with 100% white Walk Mill flour, milk, eggs, olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast (no water!) and sprinkled with black seeds (Nigella or Sesame). As with the other flat breads you have had, there are varieties of something called komach in many mid-eastern and Asian countries. What they seem to have in common is that they are all baked on hot stones or in hot ashes. This one only speaks Kurdish, and was baked in a very hot bread oven on hot stones. Enjoy!

Addition to the normal weekly bread

Mohsen, our Iranian lodger, will make Barberi bread for anyone who wants it. It is delicious fresh and warm and will be available at the shop as usual but needs to be ordered in advance. Please let the bread doctor know if you want any – by Tuesday morning, Donations again as with the usual bread,


Sourdough – The Novel is an entertaining read!

Robin Sloan: Sourdough, Atlantic books, London, 2017, 261 pp.


I am not sure how I got on to this. Someone in my family got it out of the library for me and I have now read it – cover to cover. So, I thought I’d share my impressions. I am not a book professional, so I am not sure how this would be classified, but to my mind it is a fairy-tale tragic-comic science-fiction story with a good ending. Some of us have fantasies about the better life, better food, and better sourdough bread, some of us have beliefs about that and live by those beliefs. This book takes those beliefs, puts them in the context of Silicon Valley, in the character of a software engineer specialising in kitchen robots. But at its heart the beginning of the story is about her developing an addiction to regular deliveries of spicy soup and sourdough bread, and an attachment to the young man delivering it every evening. Not far into the story, the brothers who provide the soup and sourdough have to leave because of visa complexities and give their sourdough starter to their favourite customer with a remit to take care of it, and to play it music regularly. The starter is musical itself and ‘sings’ which made me wonder what it would be like if our starter in the bread circle bakery were to sing: Depending on the music it could be wonderful!  A rather touching story is told about how – never having baked anything before – the main character starts making bread in her kitchen, then progressing to building her own bread oven in the back yard of her rental apartment and selling bread as a side line to her other work – a common and familiar story in the artisan bread world that also resonates with the story of the bread circle. Unusually, her bread is characterised by having strange facial features in the crust when coming out of the oven.

The narrative develops into something fantastic and wild, merging food and futuristic technology, with some people wholly living on synthetic food compounds and with the hero eventually giving up her work to become a fulltime baker in a futuristic ‘farmer’s market’. The sourdough starter becomes an increasingly volatile and unpredictable creature, resulting in phantasmagorical events leading to an extraordinary climax.


For me it was a good read even though it lost some of its captivating magic when the story became more and more unreal and kind of American. I recommend it as good entertainment with some very realistic action that makes good fun of the more bizarre aspects of the alternative food movement. ‘A plot that makes the book a page turner and a laugh-out-louder, with sweetness and romance and tartness and irony in perfect balance.’ as someone is quoted saying on the cover.

31.3.18 Michael Göpfert

Baking in a synagogue in Provence – 1791

The synagogue had two ovens, one for baking bread and the other for matzohs.

In 1791, when French Jews were finally granted citizenship, most Jews still living in Carpentras moved to cities, including nearby Avignon and Marseille. But not Ms. Levy’s ancestors. Many have served the synagogue as its rabbi; she continues the tradition as a historian and volunteer.

Her great-grandmother Noémie Cohen Bédaride “was one of the last to bake coudoles in the synagogue’s oven,” Ms. Levy said, using the Shuadit word for matzo.

The Baltic?

I have been fond of the Baltic Bakehouse for a long time and make no secret that I sometimes get a loaf from there or use it for a lunchtime meeting in Liverpool.!1s0x487b2127f53cfac5:0xcfc6c99f4b521bab!2m22!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i20!16m16!1b1!2m2!1m1!1e1!2m2!1m1!1e3!2m2!1m1!1e5!2m2!1m1!1e4!2m2!1m1!1e6!3m1!7e115!4s!5sbaltic+bakehouse+-+Google+Search&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipMpMMyWSTPz7iPsFBnk6EfaJZOoX79rLyjzAN0f&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX9Ir138_ZAhUFYVAKHcrDBukQoioIswEwDQ
However recently I have been to Newcastle and discovered a different ‘Baltic’ there
– it looks like flour mill – or does it not? I went inside and found the most fantastic art exhibition which I would thoroughly recommend if anyone happens to be travelling in that direction, or wants to organise a worthwhile trip:
It includes at present a specially designed exhibition by Jasmine Cibic and a wonderful tone experience put together by Serena Korda .
Great stuff, unexpected, and all in a flour mill that once upon a time belonged to Rank as of Rank-Hovis, one of the big millers in the UK.

Carnival Order for Bread?

Köln Karnevalsorden copy

I was really surprised and delighted when Moira, on of our bakers, showed me her husbands grandmother’s carnival order from 1954. The inscription says ‘Fidele Brezelbrüder Köln-Land’ which may translate into something like ‘The Joyous Pretzel Brothers from outer Cologne’.

Carnival officially finishes on Shrove Tuesday. So it is this time of the year.


Ukraine’s front-line bakery bringing hope to a town

The war in eastern Ukraine between Russian backed rebels and the Ukrainian army has killed more than 10,000 people over four years, and peace remains a distant prospect. Despite the violence and poverty though, civilians in the war zone try to live as normal a life as possible. In the frontline town of Marinka, a new bakery has opened which brings some comfort and sustenance to war weary locals

The soldiers say the smell of fresh bread reminds them of their childhood and peace time and helps lift their mood.