- What is artisan bread?
We call it 'artisan bread' to highlight the craftsmanship necessary to make each loaf. Each is handmade using long traditional processes to create a distinctive taste and look. The mixing process is closely monitored to ensure the dough absorbs the right amount of water, while weighing and shaping is all done by hand to aid optimum steam release. During baking, we watch it closely to get the ideal colour and crust. The result is phenomenal!
- What's the big deal about long fermentation?
Most bread manufacturers in the UK use the Chorleywood process, a fast, bulk method developed in the 1960s. This uses chemicals and large machines to accelerate the bread making process.
In contrast, we use a long fermentation process, where our natural doughs are left for up to 24 hours to develop. This gives you a premium product, with improved flavour and texture as the enzymes react over time. It also provides for easier digestion as during fermentation, the natural yeast starter begins to break down the gluten.
Finally, this long fermentation process allows the bread to keep for longer. As a rule of thumb, the length of time taken to produce a loaf with no artificial additives (like ours) dictates its shelf life. Thus, the longer process allows for longer shelf life at home.
- What is a starter / levain / sourdough?
Sourdough (or more formally 'levain') refers to the process of leavening bread by capturing wild yeasts in the dough. Sourdough has a distinctively tangy or sour taste (hence its name), due mainly to the lactic acid and acetic acid produced by the yeast.
Levains are made using a small amount of "starter" dough (sometimes known as "the mother"), which contains the yeast culture, along with flour, water and salt. Part of this resulting dough is then saved to use as the starter for the next batch. It is not uncommon for a baker's starter dough to have years of history.
Consequently, each bakery's levain has a distinct taste.
The Flour Station's bakers treat our starters with amazing respect, nurturing and caring for them daily. It is this process that helps make our breads so unique.
- What are the different slash marks on top of the loaves?
Traditionally, European villagers used communal ovens to bake their family's bread. Cleverly, they would slash the loaf with their family sign so they could identify it once baked. Now we use these shallow slashes - also known as 'docking' or 'scoring' - to encourage oven spring (the rapid increase in the volume of bread in its first few minutes of baking).
- Are your breads organic?
Many of the flours and ingredients we use are organic. We aim to use the best quality ingredients and whenever possible, source them locally. This means they are not always organic. However, all of our products are free from additives, colours & preservatives so you can rest assured you're benefiting from a natural and high quality product.
- How should I store my bread?
Store bread in a bread box, free from packaging. This is the best way to store it! Alternatively, you can wrap the bread in a dry clean cloth.
Store bread in a sealed plastic bag. It will leach moisture into the bag, softening the crust and encouraging mould growth. Also do not store in the fridge. Although this restricts mould growth for a day, it dries the loaf.
- Can I freeze my bread?
Bread can be frozen sliced or as a whole loaf. Either way, it is best to wrap the bread in foil, place in a plastic bag and freeze. To use the bread, thaw first to bring back to room temperature. Then place in a moderate oven to revive the crust. We do not recommend freezing bread for any longer than a month.
- How long will my bread last?
For breads free of artificial preservatives (like ours), generally, the larger the loaf, the longer it will keep. Big levains tend to keep for 3 days at room temperature whereas smaller thinner breads keep for 1 or 2 days.
As a loaf ages, it changes. If it is too dry to enjoy as is, simply slice and toast, cut and toast as croutons or break into crumbs for stuffing or frying.