Artisan baker and Radio 4 Food and Farming award winner 2010, Alex Gooch, tells Olive Magazine
about his passion for bread.
Bread has always been a big part of my life. Mum and Dad both baked at home and we ate toast all the time – for breakfast, snacks and dinner. I still do today! I trained as a chef and made all kinds of bread in professional kitchens, gradually becoming more and more obsessed. From there I set up my own bakery, Alex Gooch’s Organics in Hay-on-Wye.
When most people are going to bed, I’m just starting work. My day starts between midnight and 2am, and by 8am the loaves are ready to be delivered to shops, hotels and markets around Herefordshire. On an average day we make about 12 types of loaf, from rye bread and sourdough to ciabatta, spiced buns and brioche.
Good bread takes care and attention. I use long fermentation and develop my own live starters (rather than using yeast), which need constant tending to keep happy. The starter act as a natural preservative and flour enhancer, as well as giving the breads their lightness. I then mix the dough and leave it to prove before shaping by hand on the bakery’s 12-foot English oak table. We use incredibly high-quality ingredients in all the loaves, including Shipton Mill flour, Seggiano Italian extra-virgin oil and Maldon sea salt.