Longhope Bakes – classic, traditional and super tasty.

 

Preparing for a spring trip to Rome, I was chatting to an Italian friend within a larger group of friends. Someone asked Rosella how to ask for gluten free bread in Italian. Rosella cast a doubtful eye in his direction and, when pressed as to the availability of gluten free in Italy, she thought for a moment and then said “I think that you can get gluten free flour in some pharmacies in the cities and big towns”. Low and behold though, during our visit, some of the shops in Rome’s tourism areas were advertising “gluten free” varieties of well-known Italian staples. Why is it, it occurred to me, that as the demand for gluten free bread and other similar products seems to be inexorably on the rise here, it is a rare product you need a prescription for in Italy?

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

This certainly isn’t a mystery to Sue of The Forest Bakehouse team. This small co-operative bakery, based in modest premises tucked away in the pretty Longhope village centre, produces outstandingly good “proper” bread. During a lovely morning interviewing Sue and Chris, another member of the team, Sue discussed the co-ops passion for producing a real quality bakery range. Turns out that many of the problems digesting wheat and flour some people seem to suffer from may just be a consequence of how it’s made!

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

Modern bread, especially the arch criminal sliced white, takes a fraction of the time a traditional and experienced baker takes to produce a loaf. The bread that makes up the volume of that on offer in our supermarkets is made in vast bread production lines where it goes from cheap raw ingredients to sliced and bagged in just a matter of hours. No doubt this is a profitable business based on volumes alone. But in part consumer demand for ever cheaper stuff is also to blame. Take a supermarket sliced white value loaf at the royal price of 40 pence (link below – worth looking at the ingredients list too to see how many you recognise). Just what is it that we think we are getting for our hard earned 40 pence when a traditionally made loaf costs around £2?

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

Modern large scale bread is made in super quick time with bulk bought ingredients, which need flavour and texture additives to make them palatable. And there is the problem – that speed of production and super-charged fermentation misses a very necessary opportunity. That opportunity is time to allow the process to change and soften the effects of the gluten. Time in fermentation breaks down those things we may have trouble digesting and gives our system a fighting chance. Luckily for us that time spent resting and proving also adds bags more flavour and character to the bread. There’s more of the science on the subject on their website, but the taste and quality is something that the crew at The Forest Bakehouse are really proud of.

 

The bakery is a community supported and part funded project, but don’t think that this is anything other than a successful business. It’s just one operated on a different model. Sue and Chris, we have already mentioned, but Ciaran and Peter complete the co-operative, although not there on the day we visited. The workload is shared between the members and they have now taken on an apprentice too! Sue, was candid when asked about working as a co-operative, “we have learnt a lot, in the beginning we thought that it meant we all had to agree on everything! As we developed, we split the tasks into responsibilities and we each get on with our fair share of running and working in the business. It really works”. The community aspect of the project also means a great deal to the team who see the business as giving something back to the community investors who helped them get going in the first place.

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

That’s the business stuff over with – let’s talk about the taste! I tried their sourdough at the “See, Taste, Buy” event in the spring and was already hooked. The prospect of it straight from the Longhope ovens was just too tempting, and so that was the first target for tasting! The Bakehouse product range is really rather good for a smallish bakery. Alongside their sourdoughs, there are rustic looking farmhouse breads, savoury breads, their Latchen (soft white yeasted bread approximately 250 light years from supermarket sliced white), baguettes and ciabattas.

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

The small café in one corner of the Bakehouse next to the entrance serves croissants and cookies, pizza slices and the most fantastic sausage rolls all made right there on the premises (also available from the Dean Forest Food Hub pick up points). If you don’t believe us, call in for a cup of tea or coffee and watch it coming out of the oven!

Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.
Traditionally made bread from the Forest Bakehouse at Longhope.

My money is on proper bread every time.

Whats in a 40p sliced white http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=258742688

The Forest Bakehouse     www.forestbakehouse.co.uk     Longhope village 01452 830435

Sumptuous Vegetarian Kitchen’s Call to Action for Local Suppliers

vegetarian, veggie, catering,

Bristol-based cook Jo-Anne Lovemore of Green Tomato Kitchen creates abundant and delicious vegetarian buffet spreads for events and celebrations throughout the South-West and South Wales including the Wye Valley.

Curiosity about food and being interested in cooking has been with me for as long as I can remember. My mother enlisted my ‘help’ in the kitchen as soon as I could stand on tiptoes on a chair and wield a wooden spoon, and as children, my brother and I were allocated a corner of our garden veg patch each year to grow whatever flowers and edibles took our fancy. If I recall correctly, my pet rabbit was the primary beneficiary of the modest yield from my carrot crop, uprooted too early, thanks to my impatience.

Green Tomato Kitchen

During my teenage years, I (mis)spent many an hour glued to TV cookery shows, which at the time were enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity. I am sure this began as a diversionary tactic from schoolwork, but soon evolved into a genuine curiosity and a desire to experiment with newly discovered ingredients and culinary techniques. I would furiously scribble down recipes while Ainsley Harriott and co rattled through them at breakneck speed on the TV screen (this was before the days of the internet!)

Aside from a string of summer and weekend jobs working in kitchens while I was a student, my career path to date has taken me far away from the culinary world, although I continued to enjoy cooking for friends and experimenting with recipes. But it was only in my 30s when I began to question how I might get more fulfillment from my work and lifestyle that I decided to follow my heart into the kitchen. Since turning vegetarian at the age of 20 my interest and awareness has grown around what and how we choose to eat impacts our health.

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Food is an integral part of any event – a tangible expression of care from host to guest. So with my recently launched catering business, Green Tomato Kitchen, my aim is to create delicious, original, varied and healthy menus that guests will remember for the right reasons. When designing menus, I work closely with my clients to really understand their needs and preferences. All of the food that I prepare is vegetarian, and I love to introduce people to the abundant variety of flavours and textures found within good vegetarian cooking.

Combining the freshest ingredients to create colourful salads, mouthwatering dips, hearty bakes, savoury pastries and quiches, and gluten-free goodies is my thing. I have a soft spot for baking cakes and desserts, and no buffet spread would be complete without a tempting sweet selection to round off the meal!

Green Tomato Kitchen
Dill, feta and black olive pogača – small savoury Turkish pastries

Working from my home kitchen in the heart of Bristol, I’ll happily cater for clients with special dietary needs, or produce menus that are fully vegan, or lower in fat or sugar, for example. The central location in the south-west makes me ideally situated for one of the main strands of my business, supplying office lunches and celebratory feasts to business and private clients in the city. However, I’m not tied to the urban environment, being equally happy to offer the same high service to businesses or house parties and celebrations in  the Wye Valley.

At the moment I’m looking for a good, preferably organic, dairy supplier in the region and would be very happy to hear from any Wye Valley-based dairy farms producing delicious cheeses, butter, yoghurt and other dairy delights. Please do get in touch with any suggestions. To find out more about what Green Tomato Kitchen could offer you, visit www.greentomatokitchen.co.uk. I look forward to cooking for you!

Green Tomato Kitchen

Ed says……

We first met Jo-Anne at a business event in Bristol and we were immediately impressed with her passion for what she does. We asked her to tell us her story, particularly since she is always on the lookout for the very best vegetarian produce suppliers. So come on, if you think you can supply Green Tomato Kitchen, lets get a little bit of the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley into those sumptuous GTK buffets!! All pix M Lovemore.