THE first time Carole Roberts got a taste of ‘real’ bread, it was a case of love at first bite.
In the past eight months Carole, a Brighouse mum and part-time teacher, has not only eaten plenty of homemade loaves - she has also baked and sold a huge number and taught other people how to make them.
“Ever since I had that first taste of a proper loaf at the Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, I have never eaten shop-bought bread. Once I had sampled real bread made from natural ingredients there was no turning back,” she said.
Carole of High Street, Brighouse, is so passionate about the taste, texture and health properties of real bread that she is a now a regular at street markets and other events where her loaves sell like - hot cakes. She also runs workshops and courses and her expertise is in demand from schools and community groups.
“I can’t believe how fast it has taken off,” said Carole. “We’re virtually at full stretch now and to grow any more we would need to take on more helpers.”
Carole and her friends Frances Lister and Richard Hickson are part of the LoveBread community bakery which uses the kitchens at Rastrick High School Technology Centre every Friday evening to produce up to 150 loaves.
The bread is then sold to order or at events in the area. When Carole took a stall at the last Totally Locally street market in April, the bread had all sold within a couple of hours.
“LoveBread is a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides real bread for the community in Brighouse, Rastrick and other parts of Calderdale. People just love it. We always have samples out for people to try - and once they try, they buy!” said Carole.
“They like talking to us about the bread and how it’s made and even the more exotic varieties such as fig and fennel and olive bread sell really well.
“I think there is an element of nostalgia in it and people often comment that my bread tastes just as bread used to when they were young.”
Real bread uses only four basic ingredients - flour, water, natural yeast and salt - but other components can be added such as seeds, nuts, cheese, herbs and dried fruits, so long as they are natural.
Carole is continually experimenting with new tastes and flavours. “At the moment I am working on lavender bread, which is going to be purple, and a chocolate and prune loaf. We also make sweet bread, brioche, teacakes, sourdough loaves and pizza bases.”
Her husband Neil and children Jake, aged nine, and Nancy, six, both pupils at Woodhouse Primary School, are willing tasters of Carole’s bread and enjoy trying new flavours.
The loaves sell for around £1.75 to £2.20 - more expensive than supermarket bread on the face of it but, as Carole points out, they are more filling and infinitely more tasty than white sliced.
In May Carole ran a workshop at Rastrick High School as part of Real Bread Maker Week and she has also run courses for the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. She is planning to sell her bread and give demonstrations at Halifax Agricultural Show.
“When we started it would take us all day to bake a batch of 20 loaves but fortunately we are all getting quicker at it. Making real bread is not meant to be a hurried process, it’s meant to be kneaded by hand and the yeast should be allowed to ferment overnight,” said 40-year-old Carole.
Carole and her fellow bakers believe they are part of a centuries-old tradition and are proud to be involved in reviving interest in the ancient craft.
“I’m not at all a domestic goddess, I just like good bread.”