Buttery croissants, flaky pastries, seeded sourdough and fluffy baguettes – not a lot can beat the smell of freshly baked bread- we give you the low down on our Top 10 artisan bakers in the South West (in no particular order). Give us this day …
1.Leakers Bakery, Bridport, Dorset
This award-winning bakery in vibrant foodie and antiques town of Bridport has been going since 1914 with the grand daughter of the original founder still making the family’s Dorset Apple cake recipe. Amazing assortment of different breads including the staples plus combos such as chilli cheese and beer or (Denhay) cheese and cider loaf. Also well known for their Hearty Hardy Pasty made with squash and blue vinny cheese and for those needing a sugar rush, Almond Croissants, chocolate and date Jurassic Slice or lemon marmalade and ginger muffins all hit the spot. If you make it past their tempting shop window you can also find them at various markets, including Bridport, ATM and next day online delivery.
Where: 29 East Street, Bridport, Dorset. 01308 423296, Mon-Sat.
2.Quangle Wangle Foods, Semley, Wiltshire/Dorset border
This quirky little bakery in Semley is constantly being recommended by locals and is run by Jemma Morgan, who is married to the local vicar. From its range of yeasted breads we can’t get enough of the vicar’s wife’s baguettes, a labour of love taking 36 hours to make, olive and sundried tomato fougasses. And if you’re feeling in need of some love her “Georgie” white bread with chunks of Montezuma’s chocolate, thrown in to melt, will definitely pick you up. Jemma's latest is a divine line of patisserie, from incredible buttery brioche to moreish blackberry galettes. You can buy direct from the Rectory, next to the church, on Wednesday mornings, or from Ludwell village stores (which has just won village shop of the year), De-Liz in Tisbury and Indulge in Shaftesbury.
Where: The Rectory, Semley, Wed am. 01747 830174.
3.Thoughtful Bread Company, Bath, Somerset
This innovative bakery not only has great bread but brilliant ideas on how to run itself as an “eco artisan bakery”. Run by Duncan Glendinning who has appeared on BBC2’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and was manager of sustainability on Tribewanted.com (a community run eco tourism project run in Fiji). Loads of awards, including Great taste award gold 2010 for their cheddar Gorge Vintage Cheese breads and Irish soda bread; Taste of the West 2010 Gold for their Beetroot Bread which is hugely popular; Gold Great Taste Award 2011 for their wild garlic bread; Gold again for their slow Grana Padano loaf (including walnuts, honey and grana padano cheese and the list of awards rolls on (sorry!). We love their clever egg boxes, filled with a selection of mini breads and dips plus their barter concept where in the past they’ve asked people to bring in their glut of fruit and veg in return for muffins or money off… Worth taking a look at their new book "Bread Revolution – Rise Up and Bake".
Where : In the old Green Park Railway Station in Bath (Tues to Sat). The bakery is based at Home Farm, Farrington Guerney, Bristol and is open for visits. Tel : 01761 239074 or at the Bath Farmers Market on Saturdays
4.Pullins, Yatton, Somerset
This North Somerset bakery, going since 1925, is a true family firm with four generations having worked in the bakery. Based in Yatton, they have three shops in North Somerset and can also be found at the Wednesday Bristol Farmers' Market and Slow Food Bristol on the first Sunday of the month. Their trophy shelf is heaving, going way back to include the Hovis trophy in 1954 and a 2011 Great Taste Award for their scrumptious rye sourdough. A huge selection of artisan loaves, including their rustic French sticks which take two days to make and are left to prove between sheets of linen, their award winning stromboli (pictured) with mushrooms, cheese, sunblush tomato, paprika and red onion and their stilton plait. That’s bread. Their cakes are also worth a mention. With caramel fudge or lemon shortbread mini bars (with lemon curd centre) and their cherry bakewell cakebar, made with handmade pastry mixed jam and frangipane with cherries or tiffin. Yum. Their mince pies make it into Harvey Nichols. Fancy baking your own? they also sell tubs of their “starters”. And in a brilliant solution to avoid waste, we love the fact that Pullins give their surplus bread to charity Fairshare who distribute it to the homeless and disadvantaged.
Where: 110 High Street, Yatton, North Somerset, Tel: 01934 838698, Mon – Sat.
5.Hobbs House, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire
Tom Herbert runs the bakery and is one half of the Fabulous Baker Boys who recently kept us watching with their TV series. Tom’s brother Henry is the other half and runs the next door Hobbs House Butchery. Hobbs House Bakery started in the 1920s in the Cotswolds and has five generations of bakers, using traditional methods and hard work they now run four shops, a café and baking courses. Loads of awards including the Taste of the West silver for their pumpernickel bread and bronze for their shepherds loaf, with their most popular loaf being their white Sherston. They also cleverly sell their bread in (beautifully packaged) breadboxes online, with a taster box containing 5 breads to get you hooked…Their window displays are legendary for their imagination and detail, think bread chandeliers. Oh and cakes – their lardy cakes and ginger loaf are addictive and their cakes are probably some of the first talking cakes to have a film of their own…check it out.‘A Short Collection of Hilary Flamingo’s Dream Vocations’
Their bread making courses sell out not long after the dates are posted so keep your ear to the ground…there’s one coming up in May at Bedruthan Steps (see our piece on it). They too share their surplus with Foodshare.
Where: At one of their four shops in the Cotswolds, 39 High Street, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol. : 01454 317 525
6.Da Bara Bakery, Truro, Cornwall
DaBara is Cornish for “Good Bread” and this is exactly what you get. Two competitive brothers (there’s a theme) Tim and Ben Hawkins started Da Bara after not being able to find the type of bread they dreamed about after their French holidays. Classics are their white sourdough and the miller’s loaf (made with mixed malt flours and crushed barley). They also make Italian and French recipes, sunflower sourdough and a wholewheat loaf with just about everything including black molasses. Da Bara mainly supply restaurants and cafes, with top names such as Fifteen Cornwall, Lanhydrock Hotel , Hotel Tresanton and the Café, Duchy of Cornwall Café being but a few. Seriously well thought of as lots of local stores also stock such as Lobbs Farm Shop, Heligan but the brothers do sell from the bakery to early birds…On a different note, Ben is also running the 2012 London Marathon in aid of children with cancer. Check it out to donate. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Benjaminhawkins
Where: Grampound Road Ind Est, Grampound Road, Truro, Cornwall.01726 882096
7. Long Crichel, Dorset
With cheese straws that can make a party, sourdough bread that’s legendary, it’s somewhere not to miss …Their raw materials are organic and where possible biodynamic. All is local and even the wood for the huge wood oven is from a local sustainable forest. The simplicity of just flour, water, salt and sometimes yeast, with hand moulding and lots of time creates an amazing loaf. Particular favourites with us are the tasty and addictive malted 5 seed sourdough and rye sourdough and their walnut caramel tartelettes are delicious. They also make jams from seasonal fruits from their beautiful walled gardens and a seriously good and nutty granola, plus have a herb garden being developed with qualified herbalist Luzia Barclay www.herbsforhealing.org.uk
Tempted to make your own, then you go on one of their bread making courses to learn how to make sourdough and yeast bread using their huge wood bread oven. Sold from their bakery, Wimborne tea room, local village shops, including Fontmell and farmers markets, with a regular Shaftesbury Farmers Market every Thursday (where you'll often find us). Also delivered through Abel and Cole.
Where : Long Crichel, Wimborne, Dorset, 01258 830 852 Tues – Sat. firstname.lastname@example.org
8.Town Mill Bakery, Lyme Regis, Dorset
This is an innovative and different concept to a bakery. Town Mill has a canteen concept where you eat amongst the bakers kneading and making the delicious food you’re about to eat. Big bowls of butter and jam sit on the long (muck in and chat) confectionary tables and it’s very much help yourself as you wander around and decide what you fancy from the feast laid out. Wooden boards rather than plates here and the smell of baking hanging in the air. An honesty system works so you pay at the end and a combination of delicious food and a lack of formality make this somewhere you’ll remember. People rave about it. Starting with the main one in Lyme Regis (which people travel for miles to visit) they also have one in Dorchester, Sherborne (where we’ve also had great recommendations from our readers) and now the Eden Project have linked up with them. The lime polenta is delicious and there’s an ever changing selection of cakes. Also good is their spinach and chestnut mushroom tart and amazing pizzas and great sourdough and pain de champagne bread.
Where : 2 Coombe Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset, 01297 444754
9.Baker Toms, Truro, Cornwall
You’ve already heard us rave about Baker Tom’s for our piece on Truro. Tom Hazzledine started baking bread at 23 in 2006 for a local farmshop where he delivered his bread by bike and now has two shops (Falmouth as well as Truro) supplying hotels, shops and majorly delivering bread in Cornwall and Devon for one of our favs Riverford Organics. His rock salt and rosemary focaccia is a feast and organic white spelt delicious. Also on offer are apricot and oat bread and a beer bread amongst many others. They have a bread of the month with this month’s being Apricot and Earl Grey. An Intro to Breadmaking course is run most months at Bedruthan Steps Hotel and for the die hard, weekend bread making courses. Also watch out for their new café at their bakery in Redruth.
Where : Lemon Street Market, Truro, Cornwall. 01872 277496 email@example.com
10.At the Chapel, Bruton, Somerset
Bread and cakes to die for here. Their baker Tom Hitchmough has worked as a baker since the age of 16, cementing his reputation working at Long Crichel bakery. Tom makes four types of sourdough, rye, spelt, wholemeal and white, many others, including seeded rye (a favourite) and cranberry and pecan fruit bread which is incredibly poplular. Fougasse and focaccia are also made at the weekends. With every loaf being hand moulded using organic flour from Shipton Mill. It’s also recently been voted as one of the Guardian’s Dan Lepard’s top 10 small UK bakeries and you realize why when you visit. Delicious cakes too with the brownies luring you back. Take away or eat in the great café (a converted chapel) during the day. At the Chapel is also a seriously popular restaurant, wine store and now has 5 bedrooms – so the easiest option is just to stay the night and wake up to the smell the coffee, and bread (or even breakfast in bed)? Spread the love as the great news is they also have a bread school due to open this coming April which will teach artisan baking to small groups. Also found at Frome Market(Weds and Sats) and one of our favourite haunts, St Catherine’s Artisan Market on the first Sunday of every month in the summer
Where: High Street, Bruton, 01749 814 070
We also had great reports from our readers about Red Dog Bakery in Torrington, Devon (love the name and special mention for their seeded sour dough and Red Dog pasty) and Ella Artisan Bread in Ashburton, Devon (great Oval Mill Loaf and Eccles cake). We also love Indulge in Shaftesbury who make irresistible savouries and cakes (flapjacks with raspberries and white chocolate being our vice) and Puddings and Pies in Sherborne which as the name suggests have the most delicious selection of both and have been recommended by our readers.