Popsicle anyone?

Well the weather may be no good for proving sourdough, but it’s perfect for ice cream!

We’re chuffed to be stocking CREAMED POPS, a brand spanking new Birmingham based, small-batch artisan ice cream lolly brand! We rally behind our fellow Brummie food brands, so we just had to have them!

CPops x5 Jordan Ish

All natural ingredients, no artificial preservatives and fresh produce, combined to create a super delicious treat! Their ‘pops’ are fast frozen, meaning their ice cream stays silky smooth, creamy and icicle-free.

1pop2pop3pop4pop

We’re currently stocking: Cinnamon Toast, Raspberry Cheesecake, Salted Caramel, Carrot Halva, Pure Origin Chocolate and fast-favourite Vietnamese Coffee.

What flavour will you choose?!

New Loaf Bakery Shop Opens – Sat 26 April

Stirchley Just Got Tastier!

At Loaf  this week there has been a hive of activity.  We have done a complete refit of the shop and are introducing some new editions – including weekday takeaway lunches, and a small selection of cookery equipment, specialist cookery ingredients and local produce to buy. We’ll also be selling  our usual selection of speciality bread and cakes . Thanks to a fantastic team of staff and volunteers the new & improved Loaf Bakery Shop re-opens tomorrow – Saturday 26th April 2014. Particular thanks goes to Tom, Sarah, Nancy, Andy, Jordan, Mike, Alasdair, Russ, Walter and Jane for all your hard work. You’re amazing!

Below you’ll find out what’s new, discover our new opening hours and salivate at this week’s takeaway lunch menu – changing every week. We hope you like the look of the new shop too, with much of our furniture made from reclaimed palettes and recycled materials….

New Loaf Bakery Shop Refit  New Loaf Bakery Refit

New Loaf Bakery Refit Tom Making Tea for the Workers

 

New Loaf Bakery Shop Opens – Saturday 26 April 2014

So here’s what we’ve got on offer. Pop in to discover what’s new….

New Loaf Bakery Shop. Designer: Kerry Leslie

 

New Opening Hours

Tuesday – Friday: 12 – 6.30pm

Saturday: 8.15am – 1pm

Tuesdays – Fridays: Takeaway lunches, from 12noon

 

Weekday Takeaway Lunch Menu

Tuesday 29 April  to Friday 2 May 2014, from 12 noon

Tuesday – Daal with sourdough;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Wednesday – Herb & mushroom Frittata with green salad;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Thursday – Rosso Pomodoro Soup with sourdough;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Friday – Spinach, artichoke & chilli goats cheese pizza;  Spicy ‘Nduja sausage, mozzarella  & parmesan pizza.

We will also have brewed coffee and loose leaf teas to takeaway.

Brewed cofee and loose leaf tea to takeaway

 

Pick up a Loyalty Card

We like to reward our regular customers with the Loaf Loyalty Card, to enable you to collect ‘Loaf’ stamps and redeem a free loaf of bread!

You’ll get your last loaf in a baker’s dozen on us

when you buy 12 loaves, you’ll get the 13th free!*

Ask at the till. Subject to terms and conditions – details on the card*.

Loaf Loyalty Card

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Loaf Team

New Loaf Bakery Shop Opens – Sat 26 April

Stirchley Just Got Tastier!

At Loaf  this week there has been a hive of activity.  We have done a complete refit of the shop and are introducing some new editions – including weekday takeaway lunches, and a small selection of cookery equipment, specialist cookery ingredients and local produce to buy. We’ll also be selling  our usual selection of speciality bread and cakes . Thanks to a fantastic team of staff and volunteers the new & improved Loaf Bakery Shop re-opens tomorrow – Saturday 26th April 2014. Particular thanks goes to Tom, Sarah, Nancy, Andy, Jordan, Mike, Alasdair, Russ, Walter and Jane for all your hard work. You’re amazing!

Below you’ll find out what’s new, discover our new opening hours and salivate at this week’s takeaway lunch menu – changing every week. We hope you like the look of the new shop too, with much of our furniture made from reclaimed palettes and recycled materials….

New Loaf Bakery Shop Refit  New Loaf Bakery Refit

New Loaf Bakery Refit Tom Making Tea for the Workers

 

New Loaf Bakery Shop Opens – Saturday 26 April 2014

So here’s what we’ve got on offer. Pop in to discover what’s new….

New Loaf Bakery Shop. Designer: Kerry Leslie

 

New Opening Hours

Tuesday – Friday: 12 – 6.30pm

Saturday: 8.15am – 1pm

Tuesdays – Fridays: Takeaway lunches, from 12noon

 

Weekday Takeaway Lunch Menu

Tuesday 29 April  to Friday 2 May 2014, from 12 noon

Tuesday – Daal with sourdough;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Wednesday – Herb & mushroom Frittata with green salad;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Thursday – Rosso Pomodoro Soup with sourdough;  Baked ham & mature cheese croissant.

Friday – Spinach, artichoke & chilli goats cheese pizza;  Spicy ‘Nduja sausage, mozzarella  & parmesan pizza.

We will also have brewed coffee and loose leaf teas to takeaway.

Brewed cofee and loose leaf tea to takeaway

 

Pick up a Loyalty Card

We like to reward our regular customers with the Loaf Loyalty Card, to enable you to collect “˜Loaf’ stamps and redeem a free loaf of bread!

You’ll get your last loaf in a baker’s dozen on us

when you buy 12 loaves, you’ll get the 13th free!*

Ask at the till. Subject to terms and conditions – details on the card*.

Loaf Loyalty Card

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Loaf Team

Real Bread Campaign is under threat!

The Real Bread Campaign was set up to fight for better bread in Britain, but it’s future is under threat.

Co-founded in 2008 by Sustain and Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters, the Real Bread Campaign has recently lost it’s main provision of funding and is looking for support. Starting with a basic definition of Real Bread being made without the use of any artificial additives, “the Campaign seeks, finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet”.

Real Bread Campaign website

Can you help save the Real Bread Campaign by becoming a member?

Loaf is a member of the Real Bread Campaign because, like so many of our customers, we believe the UK is loosing the traditional skills to bake tasty, wholesome, handmade bread leaving us with cheap, mass-produced additive-filled factory loaves. Not only are these loaves filled with chemicals and therefore unhealthy for us, but they are often transported long distances and therefore damaging to the environment. That’s why we started our community supported bakery to provide healthy, Real Bread to our local community, and through the loaf cookery School teach as many people as possible how to make Real Bread. As well as selling good food, we are also able to help other local people like us restore our local high street to the thriving community it once was.

Chris Young, the Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator says; “Until we secure new grant funding, the only money Sustain (the charity of which we are part) has to run the Campaign comes from membership fees and donations, so getting new members is more important than ever to ensure our survival”.

Bread Lovers

So Loaf is asking bread lovers like us to sign up as Real bread Campaign members and spread the word via Twitter (@RealBread) and Facebook (realbreadcampaign). As a member you’ll receive discounts on courses, a quarterly magazine, access to an online forum for tips and advice on bread making, and more. You can also make a one off donation here. Find our how more on the real bread Campaign website: www.sustainweb.org/realbread

Read Loaf’s Real Food Manifesto to find out why we do what we do.

Soil Association Features Loaf

Five questions with…. Tom Baker

This month Tom is featured on the Soil Association website, after a great interview with Anna Louise Batchelor (aka @porridgelady on twitter) an environmental scientist and member of Reading’s True Food Co-op. Reading born and bread (sorry, a genuine typo – bred not bread!), Tom loves the food co-op and has recently advised the food co-op on setting up their own bakery.

The Soil Association are the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.

Here’s Tom’s interview with Anna:

Soil Association - Tom Baker interview

Veg Growing Part 3

Veg: Part 3 – vegetable growing diary

Read previous veg blog

Tom and I spent the Easter weekend down south at my parents. They are enviously ahead of us with the growing season with their dusting of snow now long gone. Whilst ours is still lingering, we started preparing the garden anticipating warmer days.

Last weeks ideas have come to fruition and we have moved the chooks to new ground, pruned our side of the hedge (it’s not ours to remove), created a second compost heap, and used the hedge clippings and dry beech leaves to start a ‘dead hedge’ for insects, and an extra leaf mould compost bin. Very rewarding. Thanks to the chickens the fertile patch we moved them from has become an extra veggie patch – lucky veggies.

Our new leaf mould bin and dead hedge
Our new leaf mould bin and dead hedge

Our garden feels like it’s getting closer to becoming more of closed little ecosystem, with the intention of bringing as little in from outside our garden as possible. Making our own compost, collecting water, relying on chicken manure and building welcoming habitats for helpful insects and wildlife is a good start. We’re yet to test our soil for pH so that we can understand how to give our plants the best start, but it’s up there on the to do list.

Week four at Urban Veg and we’re one step closer to growing outdoors, understanding techniques for sowing seeds in the gorgeous warmth of the poly-tunnel. Being honest I often fall at this first hurdle so i’ve picked up some new tips. Fingers crossed.

Transplanting seedlings
At Urban Veg – transplanting seedlings by supporting the roots, and holding the first leaves.

Here’s some reasons why my seedlings may not have made it in the past:

  • Over-watering once germinated – poor things may have drowned, lacked enough oxygen or developed ‘damp off’ from bacteria growth.
  • Surface watering – the roots don’t grow deep enough and became susceptible to temperature change.
  • Damaging on transplanting – handling the fragile parts of the seeding (stem and secondary true leaves) instead of the first leaves that grow (cotyledons). Not supporting the roots on transplanting.
  • Not enough light – causing seedlings to become ‘leggy’ (searching for more light). I’m re-potting them up to their necks in compost to encourage the stem to become a root.
  • Too much light – scorched! I’m currently searching for the right windowsill for the job.
  • There’s plenty more reasons… and the experts like Alys could tell you more.

I’m also starting to mix my compost with garden soil as i’ve discovered seeds don’t need such rich food to start, saved for later when transplanting hungry seedlings. It always baffled me why you could buy various different types of compost. Now I know why.

And as disgusting as it is (I hate this bit), i’ve come to terms with the fact that culling slugs has to be done or my veggies will have no chance. After last year, I have less sympathy for them so boiling water and burying it is.

Warming the soil
Warming the soil before growing with old compost bags in our little back garden

Maintaining consistent warmth for our seedlings is still an issue for us as we’re growing on windowsills with sporadic central heating, dependent on when we’re at home. Must be confusing for a seedling. Oh to have a poly-tunnel or greenhouse. We can only dream of a bigger garden (and more time). Given the cold weather, i’m giving the first seedlings a helping hand by warming the veg patch a few weeks ahead of planting outdoors. It’s a hotch-potch of old plastic bags, but should keep some of the anticipated Midlands rain from adding to the snow melt too.

And we’ve even seen a glimpse of some sun. Maybe there will be a rainbow next week.

Read previous veg blog

Veg: A Snow Day

Veg: Part 2 – vegetable growing diary

Read previous veg blog

Week 3 and the weather has got the better of us, cutting the Urban Veg workshop short for a week – to be continued in full post snow. But who wants to be out in the freezing cold anyway? Vegetables certainly don’t want to germinate yet, and if our poorly (but on the mend) chicken at home is anything to go by we’re all better off in the warm for now.

Watching the snow swirl across the garden from the second floor of the beautiful Winterbourne House, instead we put pen to paper to glean as much knowledge from gardening expert Alys Fowler as possible. This time we learnt about planning our organic vegetable plots, what to grow and where, and how to arrange the rest of the garden for composting, wildlife ponds and rainwater collection.

Back home now, I’ve decided I’m going to have a reshuffle in our back garden. We’re moving the chickens to a new piece of ground to make way for the veggies on the manure rich soil. The beech hedge that overhangs it is of little edible use to us, and has always caused a lot of shade restricting our veggie growing. So I’m thinking of doing something radical and either giving it huge hair cut, or replacing it with fruit bushes (let’s hope our neighbour and Tom agree). We can then make a ‘dead hedge’ pile with the cuttings to attract some useful wildlife to eat our pests. Cunning.

Tom and June the chicken
Once upon a time we had beautiful grass, now we have manure rich soil thanks to our chickens.

As our water butt is already full, the hoarder in me has already started collecting snow melt-water as it drips off our roof.  I’m also hoping to add guttering to our shed and the shelter over our winter forlorn earth oven (remember the good old bread making days of Loaf at home, anyone?). My challenge is then to keep collected water from spoiling. Apparently young seedlings can suffer from ‘damping off‘ and wilt if too much bad bacteria grows in the water, so this water may be better used directly on the garden in warmer weather.

Snowy wood-fired oven at the original home of Loaf
Adding guttering to collect rainwater from the roof of Loaf’s original wood-fired oven.

Indoors, my seedlings are struggling a bit already. Whilst my salad leaves on the kitchen window-sill seem to be ok, my chillies never came up (airtight seed storage next time). I’m told it’s too late to replant chilli seeds now, so I’ll have to try again with plugs. Next week we’ll be in the Urban Veg poly-tunnel, so I’m saving up loads of seedling questions until then.

In the meantime, I’ve succumbed to a rare purchase and going on Alys’ recommendation I’ve bought Joy Larcom’s Grow your own vegetables (2002), apparently a ‘go to’ book for veggie gardeners. Fingers crossed it works on me.

Jane

Read previous veg blog

Joy Larcom - Grow Your Own Vegetables
Joy Larcom – Grow Your Own Vegetables

Edible City

Thursday 11 April is turning out to be a busy night.

CANeat vegetarian has been rescheduled from March, starting 7.30pm. For more info and bookings visit our events page. Same menu, time and venue – at Loaf.

CANeat
CANeat rescheduled

Also on the Thursday 11 April, the Just film Co-op have a rescheduled screening of Edible City: Grow the Revolution, a feature length documentary about transforming local communities through food. Worth checking out, we think (if you don’t make it to CANeat!).

6.30pm doors at The Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret St, Birmingham, B3 3BS (city centre).

Edible City screening - Just film coop
Edible City screening – Thursday 11 April at Birmingham & Midland’s Institute

Urban Veg

Veg: Part 1 – vegetable growing diary

Whilst I spend most of my time promoting interesting social stories and sustainable projects as the Marketing Manager at both Loaf and Northfield Ecocentre, and as a freelance photographer, it’s rare that I roll up my sleeves in the kitchen or garden and get my hands really dirty. Being Tom’s wife, most people think I share his bread knowledge and skill. But leaving the baking mastery to him, it’s growing veggies and looking after our chickens that I love.

Veggie Love

So, my little bit of extra-curricular self-indulgence has been to enrol myself on a six-week gardening course at Urban Veg at Winterbourne House and Garden. Led by Guardian gardening columnist Alys Fowler, I’m learning “How to get more from your urban veg patch”, which in my case is our little back garden and an allotment shared with our Loaf baker Dom and his wife Vic.

Tom at Allotment
Tom at our first ever allotment back in 2009

I’m a novice at gardening. I dabble, planting seeds, growing on window-sills, and talking to my plants – much to Tom’s amusement.  Sometimes the results are amazing and at other times – well – let’s just say a lot of it comes down to luck.

Week one and two at Urban Veg grounded us in soil science and the art of composting, without which everything, as i’ve discovered is mostly down to chance. Knowing my soil type, understanding native and invading pests (watch out for the Spanish Stealth Slug), and feeding my soil with as much as I can from my home and garden (chicken poo, veggie peelings, friendly weeds – and even old receipts and human hair) is key. Aly’s infectious love for the environment and organic principles seems to make sense when it comes to growing.

The next four weeks of the course are a mystery, but if they’re anything like the last two my garden to-do list will continue to grow, as I experiment. I’m looking out for pallets to build a second compost heap, cardboard for lasagne gardening, saving hedge clippings for a bug hotel and leaves for leaf mould compost, and vow never to store my seeds over winter in the shed again (Sorry, Alys).

Nancy, our wonderful administrator at Loaf has signed up for an Urban Veg course too, and Dom wishes he could! I sense a little bit of gardening jealousy – and maybe even a veggie growing competition on the horizon!

Jane

Ragley Pork and Pure UBU Sausages – the verdict

IMG_5452Running a food website has it’s perks, as I found out this week after a call from a PR company representing Purity Brewing Co and Ragley Estate Meats, inviting me to sample a brand new sausage made by Ragley Estate Meats, using Purity’s Pure UBU ale. Now, I’m not one to refuse free food so I was excited to try this exclusive Warwickshire collaboration. I’m also though, not one to have my food messed around with too much – I don’t like sun dried tomatoes in my bread, herbs in my tinned tomatoes, or chilli in my cheese (and definitely not my chocolate), so would I approve of beer in my sausages? Maybe more importantly, how the heck do they get beer into sausages? I was informed that the beer is heated, and the steam from the beer infuses the meat. Phew, that’s that question sorted then.

So, what to cook to allow me to properly test these sausages? It had to be simple to allow the sausages to be the main event – bangers and mash seemed the obvious choice. However when you’ve got posh sausages, I think it’s worth poshing it up a bit, so I put an Italian twist on bangers and mash and went for potato gnocchi with sausages and a Pure UBU gravy. Here’s the recipe (serves 2):

For the gnocchi

400g cooked and thoroughly mashed or riced potatoes (waxy varieties are good, I used Balfour and added a bay leaf and salt to the cooking water)
100g ’00’ pasta flour (plain flour will do)
1 egg – whisked

IMG_5462Ensuring the potatoes have cooled from cooking, combine all the ingredients and knead lightly for a minute. Divide into three and roll each out with your hands on a heavily floured work surface into a long sausage that is about 12mm thick. Then, using a knife divide into half inch chunks, and put aside on a floured plate until you need them.

For the sausages

I used 3 sausages for 2 people, but feel free to have more or less. Fry them in a little oil on a low heat for 15-20 minutes until just cooked through.

For the gravy and assembly

30g unsalted butter
60g Pure UBU ale
1 small handful of good grated parmesan (I used 22-month aged)
Salt and Pepper
Ground elder – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped (replace for chives or parsley if you like)
Edible wildflowers to garnish (I used dandelion and lesser celandine)

When the sausages are cooked, remove to a board to rest for a couple of minutes, then slice diagonally into nice chunks. Heat a large pan of water to a rolling boil for the gnocchi. Warm up the beer to just below boiling point in a pan. Prepare to get a bit manic, the next few things need to all happen within about 3 minutes flat! Scrape the frying pan used for the sausages clean and add to it the unsalted butter on a medium heat until it’s foaming. Add to this the warmed beer, and allow the bubbling to emulsify it. Quickly add the gnocchi to the boiling water. Return to the sauce and add the parmesan and stir to distribute throughout the gravy, and season with salt, pepper, and chopped ground elder. Turn down to a low heat. After the gnocchi has had about 2 minutes, it will float to the surface – it is done, drain the water off through a sieve. Now divide the gnocchi and the sausage chunks between two plates, spoon over the sauce and garnish with wildflowers or more chopped herbs, and freshly ground black pepper. Bon Appetit!

IMG_5463

The Verdict

The dish was fabulous, the gnocchi was perfectly tender and tasty and the gravy was malty with a hint of bitterness, offset by the freshness of the ground elder. As for the sausages, they were very good – clearly a high pork content (66% according to the packet), very well seasoned, and a deep, rich character from the malt and hops of the beer. Had I not known there was ale in there, I’m not sure I would have been able to detect it, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Overall, it’s a good product, and if you can buy it locally, it’s a good choice for a rich, tasty pork sausage to put centre stage in a posh sausage dish. If you’d like to try for yourself, they’re being formerly launched tomorrow, Saturday 24th April, at Alcester Food Festival. Sadly I can’t be there, although I was asked to do a stall, but if you’re in the neighbourhood, check it out, it should be a great day.