Rise of ‘real bread’ provides crumb of hope for traditional bakeries

Steve Magnall and Rebecca Bishop, owners of the Two Magpies bakery chain Picture: TWO MAGPIES

Steve Magnall and Rebecca Bishop, owners of the Two Magpies bakery chain Picture: TWO MAGPIES - Credit: Archant

Hopes are high that an upsurge in the sale of ‘real’ bread and a growing interest old bread-making techniques is leading to a revival in the fortunes of traditional bakeries.

Freshly-baked loaves Picture: TWO MAGPIES

Freshly-baked loaves Picture: TWO MAGPIES - Credit: Archant

Real Bread Campaign member Two Magpies, which has bakeries in Southwold, Aldeburgh, Darsham and Norwich, says its recent growth has been fuelled by growing consumer demand for better alternatives to some of the "inferior" factory-made bread and pastries sold in supermarkets.

Real Bread Week from Saturday, February 22, to Sunday, March 1, is now in its 11th year and is urging consumers to buy additive-free bread from local, independent bakeries.

MORE - Fast-rising fortunes of bakery business leads to launch of fourth outletTwo Magpies owners Rebecca Bishop and Steve Magnall are hoping, if all goes to plan, to create a new bake school in a building near to their new bakery centre in Darsham, which was launched last year. The bake school would also house the wedding and celebration cakes arm of the business, freeing up vital room in the bakery to carry out their core bread and baked goods making activities.

The bakery makes its own long fermented sourdough bread using a live culture and locally milled flour. It contains no artificial additives, processing aids or 'improvers' and adheres to the Real Bread campaign loaf marque.

A baker prepares the loaves to go into the oven Picture: TWO MAGPIES

A baker prepares the loaves to go into the oven Picture: TWO MAGPIES - Credit: Archant

Unlike some mass-produced bread, the process takes 24 hours, rather than a couple of hours, explained Rebecca, but this is vital to creating a tasty loaf with a relatively long shelf-life. She feels that while it went through a dip a few years ago, in recent years there has been an interest in a return to well-made bread.

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Rebecca, a self-taught baker, said the 12 to 24 hour fermenting process made her breads healthier and tastier, breaking down proteins to make certain nutrients more digestible. She believes one of the reasons behind gluten intolerance may be the use of too much gluten in mass-produced loaves.

"It's a really important part of our offering - people may come in to buy a cake or have a coffee but they are drawn to the bread," she said. "We really believe all our doughs should contain pre-fermented dough."

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The business now employs about 100 people in total.

Steve said that their focus now was on consolidating the business after a period of rapid growth but they may look at another bakery store, depending on what opportunities arise. A second Norwich shop or one in Burnham Market are among the options they are open to.

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