Available in any denomination, they now last for at least two years so there’s plenty of time to redeem them.
They can be put towards any of the classes we offer in whole or in part payment – you don’t need to cover the whole cost.
You are sent a PDF to print out and pop in a gift card.
Please consider giving the gift of a future food learning experience this Winterval by visiting this page!
(If you’ve given or received a voucher in the last year, don’t worry, we’ll automatically be extending the expiry date by 12 months).
We produced a new leaflet this year detailing what we offer at our cookery school. You can pick one up in the bakery shop or download this PDF, which isn’t as nice as the lovely textured paper stock Joseph at The Holodeck chose for us, but is a bit more convenient if you’re not actually in Stirchley.
We sell all the equipment you need to bake bread in your own home, from proving baskets to bread tins to wooden peels. See our equipment range.
Along with flour you’d expect to find in a bakery, we sell a range of heritage grains. These varieties are often called “ancient” as they were in use thousands of years ago, before wheat was commodified into the strain grown around the world today. They are great for a baker looking for a new challenge as they behave in subtly different ways and have unique flavours. Look for Einkorn, Khorasan, Emmer and Spelt on the shelves in our shop.
We have two books in stock from the Real Bread Campaign. Slow Dough Real Bread is chock-full of recipes from real bread bakers across the country, while Knead To Know More has practical advice for starting your own microbakery, whether it’s from your kitchen or something like Loaf. The more bakeries the better!
Over the last couple of years we’ve been increasing the range and availability of locally produced foodstuffs that go well with a nice slice of bread. We’re proud to say this is now a significant part of Loaf’s business, and one we want to grow further once we move into the new building.
Supporting local producers is obviously a good thing, but it also ties into Loaf’s belief that we should know the origin of the food we eat. When Jacky delivers her jams we can ask her about them; we hear how the bees are getting on and how the weather is affecting the honey; we talk to Pip about how she’s developing her new sauces. And of course we only sell things we would use ourselves, so you know they’re of high quality.
The following are four core ranges which we think would make great gifts. Please consider buying local this year!
We stock honey from three local apiaries. Arden Forest is south of Redditch, Quinton Meadow is from the south-west edge of Birmingham, while Rea Valley is from hives along, well, it’s in the name, and you can’t get more local than that.
Pip of Pip’s Hot Sauces continues to expand her range. The new Brewed collaboration with Attic is proving very popular and there’s not one of these bottles that doesn’t have its fans.
One of the newest additions to our shop, Marshall & Co‘s chocolate is made in Bournville, but not by a multinational corporation. Unlike most chocolate producers, they work with the actual cocoa bean and take care to preserve all the flavour. And look out for their delicious chocolate tea, made with the “waste” bean husks.
And then of course there’s Jacky and her various jams and preserves. These have flown off the shelves all year and it’s been a real Loaf success story. We will be getting restocks right up to Christmas.
Jacky uses locally grown and foraged ingredients that are in season and cooks everything up in her Redditch kitchen. While there are some standards, we never know exactly what she’s going to deliver. What follows is a snapshot of what’s on the shelves this week.
We had our delivery from our screenprinters Do Make Say Ink of some lovely items designed by Molly. The headline is we finally, after talking about it for years, have a Loaf apron! Made from organic cotton with a pocket, they are the same quality we use in the bakery. £20 each.
We’ve also had delivery of the next batch of totes. Long-time customers will know we like to change up the colours so each run is effectively a limited edition. The large tote is a delightful coral on sky blue. £14 each.
We’re also bringing back the small tote, by popular demand, in striking purple on dark green. £8 each.
Also, the bread bags are back in stock. These drawstring stuff bags can hold anything but we recommend using them to collect your bread and keep it fresh. £10 each.
Finally don’t forget our tea towels, featuring the same design as our t-shirts, all on display in the shop!
We’re always looking for new local foodstuffs that go well with our bread, and were quite impressed with these chilli jams from Bear Eats who use them in the dishes they sell at food markets around town. The Tomato Chilli and Pineapple Chilli both have a sweet and fiery kick, and are a great accompaniment to a slab of sourdough and cheese. Give them a go and let us know what you think!
As you may know there are different types of coops. Loaf is a worker coop, meaning it is owned by the people who work here. York Supplies will be a community coop where anyone who wants to support its existence can become a member by buying a share in the business, and earning a dividend should it make a profit. While the workers there can of course also become members, they will be employed by the community coop, where each share is equal to one vote, regardless of how much was invested.
It’s exciting to see so many different models of ownership across our often-troubled high streets. One size rarely fits, after all.
We popped along to the Birmingham Beekeepers show at Winterbourne this weekend and happened to catch the awards ceremony where Sharif Khan – whose Rea Valley honey we stock in our bakery shop – won nearly all the awards! Here he is with his haul.
With hives in Stirchley and along the river Rea, Sharif’s honey is as local to Loaf as it gets – there’s a good chance the bees have feasted on nectar from your back garden – and we also stock his borage and heather varieties.
At the start of the summer break we announced our plan to prepare packs of snacks for kids whose families were struggling with the cost of living in the holidays and asked you for donations. We had a fantastic response from our customers and also Tricas, the construction company working on our new building over the road. We’re so grateful to you all.
This more than covered the snack pack costs and any leftover funds will be given to the B30 Food Bank this week. We also have a few snacks left which will go to the Cotteridge School food bank, a cupboard which any parent or guardian can access without asking.
We shouldn’t have to do this because there shouldn’t be the need. But there is, and like lots of other local independents, we wanted to offer a little something to bridge the gap.
Along with handing them out in the shop, we also brought onboard the Shed in Cotteridge Park to help with distribution when we were closed.
While we’re content with how things went, we’re actively thinking about how we can make this more accessible and reach more people. If this is the sort of area you have expertise in, please do get in touch with Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a long-time patron of Loaf you’ll remember when we only stocked one local honey from ‘G Francis’ and might be wondering when they’ll be back on the shelves. After many years of beekeeping and supplying honey to the local shops, Gareth has decided to retire. Thank you for your service, Gareth!
It’s that time again when we spend a month thinking about sourdough bread even more than we do the rest of the year. Sourdough September is the annual celebration of all things sourdough from the Real Bread Campaign and this year we’re joining in with a little experiment:
Desem (pronounced DAY-zum) is a style of sourdough starter popular in Belgium. Unlike the “standard” method of leaving the starter to mix with bacteria and yeasts in the ambient air, the Desen method buries the starter in whole wheat flour so it can only develop with organisms in the flour itself. Every so often it peeks out, which means it’s feeding time again.
Day 1: The original ball of dough, placed in a bed of wholemeal flour and covered.
Day 3: The dough is growing, feeding on the surrounding flour and peeks out to say hello.
Day 3: Inside the ball of dough you can see how active the yeast and other microbes have been. This was fed and and returned to the covered bed of flour for a few more days.
The starter is now seven days old and we plan to bake some test loaves this week, learning how it behaves and how to work with it. This will take a while for us to get right so don’t expect to see Desem loaves on the shelves for a few weeks, but we’ll keep you updated here.
No-one wants to think about Christmas while we’re in (probably) the last heatwave of the year, but there’s one very important festive job we need to do this month – make the filling for our legendary mince pies!
Apples are one of the key ingredients and we always like to source them from our regular customers. If you have a windfall happening in your garden and don’t know what to do with them, bring them to Loaf and we’ll add them to the mix. All varieties are welcome, from cookers to eaters to crab.
Last year we had more than we could deal with so we’re limiting donations to next week only – Wednesday 13th to Saturday 16th. Any excess will be found a home with one of the local jam or cider makers, or failing that, expect lots of apple-related goodies in our sweets display.
It’s been a while since the awesome Pip launched a new hot sauce and this looks like a good’un. Made in collaboration with Attic Brew Co up the road, Brewed is her first fermented hot sauce, made with “fruity pepper, spicy chilli and sweet onion. The process of fermentation produces acidity that cuts through the spice, whilst drawing out unusual flavours from the ingredients”.
A gaggle of bottles of Brewed arrived this week so be sure and check them out.
We’ve thought long and hard about this over the summer and unfortunately we cannot make Tuesdays work with the current Loaf business model. So from next week Loaf will be open Wednesday to Saturday. Our hours on those days will stay the same.
Tuesday is not our busiest day and, while we do very well with lunches, the massive increase in energy costs is hitting it hard. Keeping the ovens off for one day should make a big difference.
Over the next few months the bakers are going to use this time to overhaul how we run the bakery, with an eye to changing things up next year as we get ready to move into the new building.
While reducing hours never feels good, we’re seeing this as a positive decision to give us the space and time to ensure Loaf is ready to give you bread at a high quality and a fair price, whatever challenges the world throws at us next.
The cost of running Loaf has gone up a lot over the past couple of years. This is, of course, happening to across the board. Everyone in our supply chain has seen costs increase and are passing that to us. We spent this spring and summer looking for efficiencies and savings across the business while maintaining our standards but it’s got to the point where, in order to stay in business, we’re having to put our prices up.
A few years ago we stopped calling our brown sourdough “Maslin” and started calling it “Wholemeal Sourdough”. We did this because people kept asking us what a “Maslin” was, because we want our bread to be accessible and not alienating, and because it was the most wholemeal of our sourdoughs, so what’s the harm?
Well, it’s not 100% wholemeal. It’s a blend of wholemeal, white and rye flour, and that’s not something we should sell as a wholemeal loaf.
Recently there’s been a bit of a push from the Real Bread Campaign around the mislabelling of bread and there’s a section in The Bread and Flour Regulations (1998) stating that the word “wholemeal” should not be used unless all flour ingredients are wholemeal. And since we’re long-standing members of the Real Bread Campaign, it would be a bit weird not to go along with this.
But what is a Maslin? The word itself has a similar origin to “miscellany” and broadly means a mixture composed of different materials. So a Maslin Loaf is a loaf made of a variety of grains – in our case wholemeal, white and rye. It’s a mix, a blend, a maslin, and it’s been a Loaf staple since we opened in 2012. Even though it’s not always been called that.
(The question is now begged, will we do a 100% wholemeal loaf? Watch this space…)