Meet Breadshare, our Producer of the Month. Breadshare are a community interest company located in Portobello, Edinburgh, they were originally started in 2012 at Whitmuir Farm in Lamancha (around 16 miles from central Edinburgh) . Their mission is to serve and involve the community by making excellent bread using organic ingredients and distinctive local products, helping to create a more sustainable and health-enhancing food system. As a social enterprise, they are dedicated to producing great products that are accessible to everyone. So you'll not pay a fiver for a sourdough here. And rather than adding any artificial ingredients, they like to give our bread time to develop naturally into beautiful-tasting loaves. Try one, and you will soon be thinking differently about bread too.
So what makes our bread special?
Our bread is simply made by hand with natural, organic ingredients. We make Real Bread, which is defined as bread that is made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives and is not totally white. All you really need to make bread is flour, water, yeast/leaven and salt. And in fact you can make your own leaven, as we do for many of our loaves, so you don't even need to add yeast. Much of the bread you can buy these days is full of lots of other ingredients, which we think are really unnecessary. If we add something to our loaves - and we don't stint on ingredients if we think they add something special to our bread - it will be natural ingredients such as seeds, spices, nuts and dried fruit.
Our bread is simply made with natural ingredients
A whistle stop tour of Breadshare bread
The mainstay of our bread range is our Border Country loaves. These are slowly fermented light wheat sourdough breads, and contain 10% Scottish-grown wheat. Their distinctive shapes come from the bannetons, or brotforms, which we leave them to rise in, before turning them out to bake. The dough is the same in a Loaf, Cob or Bata (stick), but they feel quite different depending on the shape and crust-to-crumb ratio. Our ever-popular Border Country sourdoughs with added seeds, nuts and even fruit also change the feel of the loaf, as the soaked seeds or fruit add flavour to the dough. Our bestseller is the Seven Seeds, which packs a punch with 12% seed content - that's linseed, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, coriander and nigella seeds for those who want to know!
All of our Border Country, Rye and Italian style breads are suitable for vegans
The bread that people travel from far and wide to buy is our rye bread. Many people who cannot eat wheat can eat rye bread due to its lower gluten content and are on an eternal quest to find a decent loaf that doesn't look or feel like a small brick. The Seeded Rye that Real Foods customers know is made without wheat, and the Caraway Rye is made with a combination of wheat and rye flours. They are slippery customers to make, as rather than having floury hands, you need wet hands to mould the dough into lozenge-shapes and drop them into loaf tins. On a busy shift, we'll make over 100 rye loaves - no mean feat!
Our Seeded Rye breads are made without wheat
Probably the trickiest dough we work with is the Italian-style dough to make ciabatta. This is made with white flour, water, rye leaven, salt and extra virgin oil, and is incredibly silky. The rye leaven gives it an interesting depth of flavour. It is very sensitive to being over-worked, and too much handling can change the gluten structure so much, you need to leave it to relax before revisiting.
We also make yeasted bread, although we use minimal added yeast by making what is known as a sponge the day before baking. This is simply a little yeast added to water and flour and left to ferment overnight. You can do that when you make bread at home too. A little butter is also added to these loaves to avoid an over-crumbly texture. These are baked in tins so have a 'farmhouse loaf' look - although even our farmhouse white is made from half white, half sifted wholemeal flour to keep as much goodness in as possible.
Our Border Country loaves contain at least 10% Scottish grown and locally milled flour
If that's left you wanting to know more, why not become a Breadshare volunteer? Either in the bakery, or at one of the markets we attend, we are always on the lookout for bread enthusiasts with a little time to give, in return for an insight into what running a community-supported bakery is like. Visit www.breadshare.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.