Bread is a staple part of our diets. All cultures have a form of bread they eat daily, they’re usually simple and easy to produce in the home kitchen. In the UK we’ve been buying and eating sliced bread for decades and whilst sliced bread is cheap and convenient, it’s often not that great. For us as a family we eat supermarket sliced bread during the week and treat ourselves to some nice bakery bread at the weekends, or sometimes we might even bake our own.
Last week I went to Refresh Cafe in Didsbury and met Linda from It’s a Bread Thing. I wanted to try her bread and hear more about her work with local schools.
Linda has been baking bread all her life and over the last year or so has turned it into a business. She’s passionate about baking and now supplies Refresh with freshly baked bread on Fridays and Saturdays. They sell it over their deli counter and use it in some of their dishes.
While we were in Refresh they made us a plate of their “Posh Cheese on Toast” which was nothing short of excellent. It’s one of their weekend specials and they use Linda’s chilli sourdough bread (it packs a nice kick), which they variously top with chutney, rocket, pickled onions and a variety of cheeses. It is by far the best cheese on toast I’ve ever eaten, such a simple dish, so often done either badly or boringly.
While we munched our way joyfully through our brunch, Linda told me all about her work with local schools. She’s set up a “Bread Club” where children come and learn to make bread and learn about the baking process, cookery isn’t taught extensively in schools anymore and the pupils are really interested in getting stuck in. Baking is also excellent for encouraging their maths and science skills as well as developing their confidence in the kitchen.
Linda is keen to go into more schools and youth groups to pass on her skills, her enthusiasm for teaching future generations is obvious and infectious. Not only is baking an enjoyable, practical skill to have, it’s also very therapeutic.
I tried Linda’s basic white and some of her flavoured sourdough loaves. I loved the basic white, it was an excellent all rounder and I used it in about five different ways when I got it home (sandwiches, toast, cheese on toast, croutons and stale breadcrumbs), it was delicious.
We also tried the linseed and pumpkin seed sourdough loaf. I love sourdough and it’s a really popular bread to bake at home. Linda is clearly in love with sourdough too and enjoys experimenting with different flavours. With the seeds in this linseed and pumpkin seed sourdough it does make you feel pretty healthy when you’re eating it. It’s a lovely loaf and would be lovely thinly sliced, toasted and served with pate, we had it so many different ways.
The great thing about home baked bread like Linda’s is it doesn’t go mouldy and it lasts a good few days (if it doesn’t get scoffed first), if it does go stale then there are loads of recipes for using up stale bread, like panzanella. We like to use it as croutons or whizz it up into breadcrumbs and freeze it for a rainy day.
I’m a local girl and a firm and enthusiastic supporter of shop local. I like to spend my money supporting local businesses who in turn support other local businesses and employ local people, like the way Refresh source their bread from Linda. I like that. I like that knowing the food I am eating is really good quality, made with love and is helping to support local businesses and local families and if it tastes as good as Linda’s bread, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Linda’s It’s a Bread Thing loaves are available to buy from Refresh Cafe in Didsbury, South Manchester every Friday and Saturday, you can also order bread directly from Linda or Refresh Cafe.