Bear Eats now on the shelves at Loaf

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!

New cooperative klaxon! 🚨

Congratulations to the newest cooperatively-run enterprise on the block! York Supplies was successful in its share offer, raising £250,000 from the local community to buy this much-loved local business from its retiring owners.

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.

Congratulations to Rea Valley Apiary!

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.

Kids Snack Packs report

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

So long and thanks for all the honey, Gareth

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!

Baking with Desem for Sourdough September

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.

Desen sourdough ball in a tub of flour

Day 1: The original ball of dough, placed in a bed of wholemeal flour and covered.

Desem sourdough ball peeking out of the flour

Day 3: The dough is growing, feeding on the surrounding flour and peeks out to say hello.

Desem sourdough ripped open to show the air holes from microbial activity

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.

We want your apples!

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.

New Pip’s Sauce just dropped

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.

TTFN Tuesdays

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.

We will review Tuesday opening in November.

Prices are going up

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.

Cookery school classes got their new prices last week and most bakery prices are going up from this Friday. You can see the prices of the core baked goods on this page and lunch prices have increased by a similar amount.

Return of the Maslin (it never went away)

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…)

York Supplies is becoming a co-op – and you can own a piece of it

York Supplies is one of the worst-kept best secrets of Kings Heath – an old-school hardware and gardening store where you can find anything you need, and if that’s one nail then you can just buy one nail. We’re big fans and were quite distraught when it was announced that Jon Jaffa, the owner and heart and soul of the business, was retiring and selling up.

Over the last year a group of customers, with support from Co-ops UK, put together a plan to save the business and, more importantly, maintain the community spirit of the business that Jon has nurtured over the decades. Here’s Barbara Nice to explain it.

If successful, the business will be reborn as a York Supplies Community Co-op. Anyone who invests at least £100 can become a member with voting rights, meaning the business will effectively be owned by the customers in the community. They need to raise £300,000 from shares which will then be matched by the Community Ownership Fund, giving Jon a fair price to retire on.

The share offer ends on 7 September. You can invest (and note this is an investment, not a donation) by filling in this form.

Applications open for flats in our new building (which needs a name)

In need of affordable housing in Stirchley? Like the idea of living in a co-op run apartment block above a bakery, bike shop and art cafe? Applications are now open for flats in our building, which is currently taking shape on Stirchley high street.

Stirchley Co-op Development banner

Speaking of which, we’ve long realised we need to give our building a name. ‘The Stirchley Co-operative Development Building’ is too much of a mouthful and will get confusing when we start work on the next one (yes, there are already plans for another one).

But where to begin? How does one name a building? Not for the first time in this project we’re in uncharted territory and could do with a nudge.

If you have an idea for what our building could he called, please enter it in this very short form. There’s no prize and a very high chance we won’t use it, but there’s also a chance it’ll set us off in the right direction.

You raised £650 for SIFA Fireside

Between January and June we were taking donations on behalf of SIFA Fireside, the homelessness charity in Digbeth. We rounded up your generosity and just transferred £650 to their account. Thank you!

Eppie, their fundraising lead, said: “Your support has been incredible especially whilst so much has been going on. This is an amazing donation we are seriously so grateful to Loaf and your customers.”

Artefact is closing (for now!)

As you’ll know, Artefact is one of the worker’s co-ops joining the Bike Foundry and Loaf in our new building, currently under construction on the corner of Hunts Road. Their lease is up on their current home and, for various reasons, they’ve decided to vacate.

This Friday is the big closing (for now!) party, starting with Artefact’s Artefacts where you can purchase a piece of Stirchley history.

Then there’s the final programme of events through to the 30th July when the doors will shut.

Artefact isn’t going away though. Over the next year there’ll be regular events popping up in venues across Stirchley while they get themselves ready for the new building. Sign up to their newsletter to stay informed.