Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Monthly archive for September 2013

A little of what you fancy does you good

I always hold in having it if you fancy it
If you fancy it that’s understood
And suppose it makes you fat? I don’t worry over that
‘Cos a little of what you fancy does you good.
(Source:  Marie Lloyd, Victorian England fnar fnar chorus song)

We are more than a little excited that this bake list welcomes a brand new biscuit bar that has nothing at all to do with sourdough September!  Now. you know that Rex Bakery loves sourdough very dearly indeed, and it’s not an either/ or for us – but sometimes you just have to follow your healthy daily bread by indulging in something that’s sweet, rich, delectable and not even trying to be good for anything but your taste buds.  

Every week our viennoiserie & pastries sell very well indeed with our Rex Bakery Friends.  Maybe that’s because they consist of the highest quality ingredients – Croxton Manor unsalted butter (as used in top Michelin 3-starred restaurants in Bray & across the South East), organic white flour, Callebaut Belgian chocolate.  Or maybe it’s because the Rex Baker chocolate bunslikes to at least  nod to 1 of your 5 a day (citrus, berries, rye, organic dried fruit) in most of the Rex sweet baked items.  Or we actually hope you buy just because you like the taste 🙂  We want you to know there’s a lot of love & care taken over what you finally eat, especially compared to some supermarket-bought highly processed, deep fried, low nutritional-value sweet alternatives with hydrogenated fats & additives & very high levels of sugar & salt.

That said, people sometimes ask the Rex Baker’s family how come we don’t resemble the Happy Families’ Baker’s Wife & Children given all the baked items we trough every day.    The truth is that the Rex Artisan breads, consumed in truly vast quantities, appear to have little or no impact on our waistlines & weight.  The theory is that given the long pre-fermenting & proving process that Rex doughs go through, there is no more fermenting & bloating for the bread yeast to do by the time it reaches our tummies.    That there’s nothing bad for your bodies in the natural goodness of the organic grains & seeds.  All of which totally contradicts the fear that anything that tastes good, has to be bad for you.

streusel, fudge, lemonThat brings us to the idea of everything in moderation.  If we are eating well (we humbly offer that Rex Artisan breads are a great start) & expending enough energy, then why can’t we all enjoy a little Rex treat from time to time?  If not indulged by an occasional Rex Lemon & Fudge Streusel bar, how are we ever meant to resist the craving for an over-sized bar of rubbishy chocolate??  It’s all relative, which is why this week we are celebrating the notion that a little of what you fancy from Rex does you good.  Do tell us what you think, which baked item do you crave each week?





Health is happiness

It’s the last week of Sourdough September!   Health, bread & happiness are linked themes this week.

Last week we featured a wheat-free Walnut Spelt sourdough.  Spelt is a wheat-free relative of wheat and its tasty flour is popular in German bakeries.  Some friends of Rex Bakery asked whether spelt is better for your weight & you, than wheat in  bread.  Luckily, the Rex Baker has been good friends with top UK dietician Dr Sarah Schenker,  for nearly 30 years (they must have both been in nappies when they 1st met…).  Dr Sarah Schenker, dietician, nutritionistDr Sarah is co-author of the best selling The Fast Diet and so who better to ask for an expert opinion?  Here’s what she has to say:

“Wheat per se is no more fattening than other non-gluten containing grains like spelt or rice. However, there are two good reasons why avoiding gluten may help with weight loss. It is now widely recognised by the medical world that many people can suffer from gluten sensitivity in the absence of coeliac disease. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is a relatively newly recognised condition which is still being researched and results from studies show that although sufferers do not have coeliac disease, their symptoms appear to be related to gluten and improve after following a gluten free diet.

One of the most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity is bloating where the stomach swells and causes uncomfortable abdominal pain. While this is not the same as weight gain, those experiencing frequent bloating can feel lethargic and lacking in energy. This makes exercise difficult and may lead to an unhealthy eating pattern with sufferers often relying on sugary drinks and foods in an attempt to ‘give them more energy’.

Other symptoms of gluten sensitivity include exhaustion, headaches, diarrhoea, constipation or limb numbness.

The second reason that following a gluten free diet may aid weight loss, is because you will find that you need to think more carefully about what you can eat. Wheat is ubiquitous in our diets and readily available in the form of biscuits, cakes and other snacks. Avoiding these foods and choosing alternative grains such as spelt or wholegrain rice for meals can lead to a healthier pattern of eating.”

They say that Health leads to Happiness, and out-of-the-oven artisan bread is not only naturally healthy but makes the Rex Baker very, very happy too.   But for even better health we are often advised to cut down on salt – adults should consume <6g a day, and the normal Rex baguette recipe calls for 4g.  Whilst few of us would eat a whole baguette a day all on our own (!),  it’s interesting to try a variation.  Our many baguette customers may have noticed a No-salt variation this week.  Andbaguettes, low salt bread, organic white flour the result?  Hmm.  At Rex, we think that the idea of cutting back on salt should be …. taken with a pinch of salt!  We will happily offer a No-Salt bread from time to time when we open our shop, our family eats very few processed foods like crisps but Rex Artisan Bakery clearly prefers the tasty normal recipe baguette afterall.

What do you think?  If anybody had a baguette last week & didn’t enjoy the No-Salt variation, let us know, we will gladly replace you with a “traditional” Rex baguette free of charge next week 🙂

6 ways to eat Rex sourdough

Many people tried regular Rex Sourdough for the 1st time at the pop up points last Saturday because we had buttered samples and a few extra loaves available to buy.   Lots of you seemed to like it & we sold out, so we were very pleased 🙂
However we are often asked How else it should be eaten, so wanted to share our Rex Bakery family favourite tips for enjoying the regular Rex Sourdough

  1. Accompany meals – a bRex sourdough, sourdough breadasket of chunks of fresh Rex Sourdough really enhances any meal but especially salads, cold meats & cheeses, soups, stews, pasta….  just like the French might cut up & serve a baguette in fact.  It would be wrong to always think of Rex Sourdough as a vehicle – in the Rex Baker’s family, the basket of bread is devoured even before the plates hit the table!
  2. Sliced layer sandwiches – just treat as a tastier version of a healthy loaf.  The Rex Baker learnt to sandwich his meals (memorably spaghetti bolognese and roast dinner!!) to address permanent hunger during his army boarding school days and it is certainly his favourite bread for regular layered sandwiches.  The Rex sourdough outside crust is quite crunchy & the inside crumb should have large, holey, explosive texture so it might suit you to order Rex Sourdough sliced if you want it to be easily available to you for all those kids’ lunch box sandwiches this term..
  3. Open savoury sandwich – hand cutting a lovely thick slice of Rex sourdough & topping it with any favourite filler.  This Saturday that was organic double gloucester open Rex sourdough sandwichcheese with last of the season’s baby plum tomatoes & salad – perfect.
  4. Toast – for us, nothing beats a slice of Rex Sourdough toasted & dripping in unsalted butter as it turns colder.  Well maybe slathered in Marmite too but we get that won’t appeal to everyone.  Toast is our favourite to feed the children as a snack when they are predictably starving right after school and the slightly denser weight & stronger taste of Rex Sourdough is delicious toasted.
  5. Dipped in vinaigrette – the childrens’ favourite is dipping Rex Sourdough into organic olive oil lightly whipped with balsamic vinegar.  A meal in itself & we always have to make up more vinaigrette & cut more bread to satisfy demand!
  6. Slice with jams & curds – This is a favourite occasional “sweet treat” in the Rex Baker’s son’s lunch box.  After extensive trial tasting of samples with lemon curd, orange curd & strawberry jam – his winning topper is declared to be blackcurrant jam.

Perhaps you have your own favourite way to eat Rex Sourdough to share with us?  PlRex sourdough bread, jams, jam, curds, lemon curd, orange curd, strawberry jamease tell us in the comments box!  Otherwise we hope you find something to tempt you from this list, as we think you might really enjoy Rex Sourdough too 🙂

3 days to a better loaf – see the Sourdough Steps

Many Rex friends tried sourdough breads in their orders this week – we hope you liked what you tasted!  

We wanted to explain more about how complex Sourdough bread is to produce.   It is very unlikely to produce a sourdough culture which has the same rising power of a commercial yeast culture. So to create a loaf which is light enough for customers to want to eat, two things are very important.

  1. Firstly a sourdough culture really needs nurturing.  The Rex Baker now has 5 kids, the three human ones you may have come across in Little Chalfont  plus his two sourdoughs. Every day they need feeding and refreshing. If he was to neglect them, it could end up with a very sour winey smelling mixture with little vigour.
  2. The dough must be left for a very long period to get it to rise. The very welcome side effect of all that waiting, is a really special texture and taste to the bread, as the sourdough yeast culture has had loads of time to feed on the flour changing the very nature of it into to other compounds and also making it more digestible.

It is because it is much harder work to get a decent loaf and takes so much time, that sourdough is a more premium product.  Here’s the Rex Bakery sourdough timeline:

  • Day 1: Build and feed existing sourdough culture to increase vigour and create correct flavour balance
  • Day 2:  Increase volume of sourdough culture so can be used to make many loaves.
  • Day 2 + 4 hrs: Mix sourdough bread dough & leave in bulk to start fermenting.
    artisan bread, sourdough, banneton, dough
  • Day 2 + 7 hrs:   Divide sourdough bread dough into loaf weights (generally Rex Bakery weighs sourdough to 500g to be at least 400g after baking) and place into floured bannetons.  Leave covered at room temperature
  • Day 2 + 8hrs: Place all of the dough filled bannetons into a special type of refrigerator, called a RETARDER, set at 5c, for overnight slow rise.
  • Day 3: Remove dough filled bannetons from retarder and leave covered at room temperature for up to 5 hours, until the loaves have risen sufficiently for baking.
  • Day 3 + 5 hrs: Bake loaves for around 30 minutes at 220c.

baking, bread in oven, sourdough, artisan bread, loaves

So the whole process does take 3 busy days – so we appreciate your early email orders to get the quantity right for each weekend bake.   Have a great week! xx


Rex Bakery celebrates “Sourdough September”

The REAL BREAD CAMPAIGN’ has launched ’ Sourdough September’ sourdough september; real bread campaignand to celebrate we will be making additional Sourdough loaves every week beyond our usual Rex Sourdough ( 90% white flour, 10% Rye Flour).

In the spirit of ‘Sourdough September’, let’s explore Sourdough and also explain why it is more expensive to buy 🙂

First, let’s debunk a myth:  bread called Sourdough does not mean the bread is sour! It can be, but usually it is not.  The term has been made fashionable in America to highlight bread made without Commercial Yeast.  In France it is described as ‘Levain’. ‘Pain au Levain’ in France is simply a ‘Sourdough Loaf’ in America.

Sourdough still uses a yeast culture to rise the bread dough, but one which is home-harvested and grown, rather than a commercial yeast variety out of a packet or block.

Yeast, a single celled fungus, exists everywhere in the world around us and just requires capturing and encouraging, to grow. There are thousands of yeast strains which react in different ways.  Anyone who has ever tried to make homebrew beer or wine, will know that there are types which ferment at the top of a beer solution and others at the bottom of the solution; some which operate at ambient temperature and some at low temperatures.

The first sourdough culture used in the Rex Bakery, was captured from nature by mixing flour, water & some local honey together about 2 years ago. The next day the Rex Baker threw away half of his mixture & added more water & flour. He did the same the next day and before he knew it, had a bubbling fermenting culture.

artisan bread, sourdough, banneton, doughThis is how our ancestors made bread, going all the way back to Ancient Egypt before Commercial Yeast Companies existed.

The Rex Baker has no idea whether the yeast culture he now uses came from the honey, the flour or the air. In fact over two years,  he has refreshed the culture hundreds of times , so it is possible that the original yeast culture he captured  is no longer there anyway and perhaps another strain introduced through the flour he has added or from the air, has now taken over.   It isn’t really important, what matters is that it works. As it is a  natural levain it can be very tricky & unpredictable as the Rex Baker found this week!  More on the sourdough process in our next blog

Sourdough loaves are perfect eat as bread on their own, to accompany any meal and make delicious toast.  xx