Documentary which follows Tom Herbert in his efforts to bake a loaf which will win him first prize at the National Organic Food Awards, a quest that takes him all over Britain.
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Tom Herbert's a baker.
His family have been baking bread in Gloucestershire for five generations.
Last year, Tom baked the loaf that won first prize at the National Organic Food awards.
This year, he's determined to win it again.
A whole host of people want to win this competition.
But not as much as me.
And Tom wants to do more than just win the award.
He's passionate about hand-made bread.
98 per cent of bread consumed in this country comes from several large factories that
make stuff that doesn't deserve to call itself bread. There's a whole
new generation of customers and consumers
and people that have only been used to this plastic-wrapped pap.
When you open the bag it smells of vinegar. What's that about?
It's about making sure that more people have a choice.
More people need to understand that this stuff is life-enhancing.
This should be people's birthright.
It smells so good.
On his quest, Tom will find out how one group of people
has kept bread at the heart of their lives for generations.
He'll hunt out the right ingredients.
-To touch it it's like silk.
-Isn't that beautiful?
And find out whether the judges think he's succeeded.
Actually, it is quite sour, isn't it?
If he does it, Tom will have created his perfect loaf.
Tom Herbert's family bakery has been producing hand-crafted bread in the Cotswolds for almost a century.
As a child, he learned how to bake with his father and grandfather,
and at 16 he started an apprenticeship to become a master baker.
This is without doubt the best toast in the world.
It's made from overnight dough.
It's made to the same recipe as my great-grandfather used.
This is his bakery just outside Cirencester.
It's called overnight dough because the dough is left in great big bins, just like these ones.
He'd sleep on top of it, and long before the cock crowed
the dough would rise, tip him off, he'd get up, start baking.
Tom has two months come up with a brand-new recipe for the competition.
But he also wants his loaf to get the public's vote.
# I ain't no baker
# But I know how to bake... #
Excuse me. What's your idea of a perfect loaf?
A perfect loaf of bread?
-Something where you know what's in it.
Excuse me. What's your idea of a perfect loaf?
-A perfect loaf?
with just a nice kind of bit of a salty taste to it.
-I like white but I can eat some browns, like granary.
Do you ever make your own?
-So, granary, salt...
-With a bit of a nutty, salty taste to it.
-All right, thank you.
-What bread do you love?
-Bread? Brown, wholemeal bread.
You cannot beat that.
# Oh, bread, bread... #
I like wholemeal because, because it doesn't give you constipation.
I'm prepared to say that on camera.
-That's really weird.
-What's your perfect loaf?
I like white bread, personally.
White bread is really nice, it is, but it just clogs up your guts.
Just have some fruit once in a while.
Something, something real, nice and fluffy, a lot of flour on the top.
Bread? One with plenty of taste, well risen, no artificial taste, and definitely unsliced.
-Why, why all those things?
-Because I make my own bread.
Do you? Great, thank you.
It's got to have a good crust.
And be soft inside.
-Brown, but no bits.
-Brown and crispy.
And does it come in a packet or do you make it yourself?
-In a packet.
-What do you put on it?
-That's it? Taste it?
-And cheese toastie.
-Cheese toastie, mm-mm. You're making me hungry.
Today, there's a lot of different loaves to choose from.
But it wasn't always like that.
The British have been baking bread for more than 8,000 years.
Tom wants to know if there's anything he can learn from our ancestors.
He's come to Cornwall to meet archaeologist Jacqui Wood.
-Hello. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you. What a place.
She's built her very own Iron Age village.
We're going to do a bit of, cook a bit of bread.
We're going to bake in there.
That's our oven. It's called a bank oven because it's cut into
the banks so you've got a nice bit of insulation around the outside.
-While that's heating you might
-well put something on the top.
-So you've got a hob and an oven?
It's like a dual purpose cooker.
In pre-history you get really mean about wood, because you use so much of it when you're cooking.
This was made out of dried elderberries.
How long ago did you make that? Does it take a while to rise?
-OK, so, kind of a day.
About a day to get the yeast going. This was quite tiny when I started.
-So it's doubled in size?
You can use fresh elderberries, straight off the tree, put them into some flour and water,
and the wild yeast on the outside of the elderberries will ferment it.
It's just mixed in with a bit of salt and honey.
Put that in.
It's really hot.
Let this go quite flush.
-Yeah. We've got some turf to seal it up, really.
Keep the heat in.
I want to build one in my garden.
You've got to make sure it's granite or igneous stone, because if you use slate
or sedimentary stone, the first fire you put in it, it'll blow up.
-So Cotswold limestone...
Really? Will it blow it up?
-And maybe kill or maim.
-It's rather dangerous.
The stones absorb heat from the fire and keep the oven at the right temperature.
The dark wholemeal loaf will take about an hour to bake.
-Shall we have a look?
Oh, yes. Look at that.
The knife is coming out clean so it's baked in the middle.
It's really worked, hasn't it? It's good.
You can see how the yeast has sealed the holes.
-Yeah, those air bubbles.
-You can see right through.
It's really good for you, the elderberries are really good for you.
Baking with Jacqui has given Tom an idea for his first attempt at a competition-winning loaf.
Borrowing from the Iron Age bakers, I'm going to use natural yeast to rise my dough.
This smell certainly gets me up in the morning.
It's a really strong, fruity smell.
This is sourdough, when you take flour, water, mix them together
to attract airborne yeasts who then feed off the sugars in the flour.
This will make my bread rise.
This goes right back to ancient times, to the Egyptians that took us from flat breads to leavened breads.
This is at least 40 years old, brought over from Ireland by a baker who worked with my dad in Bath.
We've taken it and we've nurtured it and on a daily basis we feed it flour and water, and we take out
what we need from this to leaven our doughs and whatever we take we replenish with more flour and water.
I feel I'm running a risk using sourdough, because its tangy, sour flavour isn't to everybody's liking.
But I believe it's the right thing to do.
All the entrants to Organic Loaf Of The Year
starts with the same basic ingredients - flour, salt and water.
But these can be used to make an enormous range of breads, and
it's the bakers' skill in varying them that will decide the winner.
The quality of the loaf is all determined by the quality of the flour.
So I've got a really nice, wholemeal flour that has a lovely nutty flavour.
'I then need some salt to season the flour, to really bring out the flavour.'
Hot water. It binds the flour together.
There's a science to baking, where every aspect of what's happening can be understood,
but to create something beautiful it also has to be an art as well.
The kind of baking that I do, or...
people do at home, if you're fixing it around a busy life, you've got plenty of other things to do,
you don't really have to be patient, you just have to go back to it when it's ready. Easy as.
loaf into a competition that we've
won so many times before
is daunting but exciting.
I need something that has great flavour and great taste.
It's got to look great and stand out and be memorable.
The dough is now stretchy, fully mixed and kneaded.
We both need a rest.
If I'm going to create a perfect loaf, there's no better place to do it than in a wood-fired oven.
Little and often is how
I'm going to rock this oven up to 500 degrees.
Once I've got it fired up and it's clean inside, I'm then able to bake bread
followed by patisserie, followed by roasting things overnight.
So the dough has been resting.
It's doubled in size.
You can see the intricate lattice of bubbles that has been created by
the sourdough as it's worked. It's time to portion it up.
This is a really wet dough which is going to be great for giving it a lovely moist crumb inside.
Now I've moulded the dough pieces, I'm going to put them in the prover, where it's warm and humid.
This'll encourage the yeast to do its thing
and over the next couple of hours they're going to double in size.
Great. At the front, the oven is 240 degrees.
The right temperature to make it jump up from the soul of the oven without it burning.
The loaf is baked.
But how good will it be?
The thing about baking is that it's not an exact science.
It's a bit flat, a bit wholemealy and a bit worthy and it's not my perfect loaf.
It certainly leaves plenty of room for improvement so it is back to the drawing board.
He might be disappointed but this is the kind of bread
that most people in Britain ate before the Industrial Revolution.
Until then, most country estates and manors like Stanway House in Gloucestershire had a water mill.
They ground their own corn and produced their own stone-ground, wholemeal flour.
Tom wants to know why the bread that mills like this produced, went out of fashion.
He's meeting one of Britain's leading authorities on the history of bread, Professor Brian Reuben.
-Hello, pleased to meet you.
-So this is the mill.
After centuries of neglect, this mill is being restored by David Empringham.
Today, the team is putting in the millstones.
This has been quite exciting seeing this one put together.
Like other mills in medieval times, Stanway started life as
a 'fulling' mill, for washing the fleeces of sheep.
They made a great deal of money out of it, of course, because everything came together in this area.
They had the sheep with the short fleece
which was ideal for broad cloth which is what they were making.
They had the water supply of which I have never seen it fail yet in seven years.
-So you have a big pond up there?
-A big pond, constant supply of water.
A huge wheel like this, you could practically get enough electricity to run the estate on.
How big is it?
24 feet diameter.
But the invention of steam-driven mills during
the Industrial Revolution made water mills obsolete.
The new technology allowed the millers to grind the wheat more finely and sieve out the bran.
For the first time, white flour became relatively easy to produce and white bread soon took off.
This looks like a good spot for lunch.
According to Professor Reuben, it wasn't just because people liked eating it.
The movement towards white bread was successful because the employers wanted their workers to have white
bread, If you were eating wholemeal bread all the time or bread that was
-bran rich, you had to go to the loo all the time.
Yes. If you have these chaps working in your factory
and they had to go off every hour, or every half hour to the loo, it interrupted production.
It wasn't long before the baking of bread itself began to be mechanized.
At the 1924
Empire Exhibition, Queen Mary, who was the country's
premier housewife, came and accepted a loaf of bread which had
virtually not been touched from the moment the flour had been
poured in at one end, to the moment it had been taken out at the other.
Mechanisation transformed baking.
By the 1970s, most bread was being made in large industrial plants.
The impact on smaller bakeries was dramatic.
Thousands went out of business.
Many of those that survived did so by offering something unique.
One of them is Brackman's Jewish bakery in Salford.
It's run by third generation baker, Andrew Adelman.
Andrew, hi, how you doing?
-Good to see you.
-He specialises in making a Jewish loaf called Challah.
-I hear you make a good Challah here.
-Yes, we do.
-Is that it over there?
-Yes, that is.
We find we have to keep a very high standard.
Our customers come from a very orthodox community.
We do have a large customer base of secular Jews as well.
A Rabbi inspects each Jewish baker every single day to make sure that
the baking methods and ingredients conform to Jewish religious law.
This is from London.
It is a supervised product.
This is the logo. This is what you are looking out for.
So you come in every day.
How long does that take?
40, 45 minutes, depending on what is needed.
It is quite routine?
-You get used to each other hanging around?
-Do you make him a coffee and give him a cake? Keep him sweet?
But the Rabbi doesn't just check the ingredients and baking methods.
He prays over the bread.
We take a small piece about this size
from each batch of each individual recipe that we make.
We put them into here and then
the Rabbi comes and he
separates them and takes a bit of each one
and makes a blessing over it.
The bakers here make a plaited white Challah.
Is there any significance of them being six strands?
A lot of people do five strands, seven strands, it is just that we have always done six.
That is how it is.
Starting on the top left, imagine there is a V in the middle.
That is top one down and this is the second one on the other side across.
Top one down to the middle and second across.
Second one-down, second one across.
Repeat that all the way down.
-Top one down.
-Second one across.
Top one down, second one across.
Right across, right across.
-You used to plait your sister's hair, no?
I've got three daughters.
-They you are you see.
-One is a baby though and can't plait her hair yet.
And then poppy seeds.
I wonder who made that handsome looking loaf.
I think it was you, wasn't it? I think the large might just need a little bit longer.
You can see it is still quite soft underneath.
It should be quite hollow. I'm telling you, you're the baker.
Well, I'll be all for taking them out now but whatever.
Do you won't get them out now?
I think they'll start collapsing if I take them out now. They are not quite there.
People will put two of these on a table tonight and they will look very nice.
Now he's seen how Challah is baked, Tom want to find out just what place it has at the Jewish table.
Good to meet you.
-Rabbi's wife Dr Isabel Braidman bakes her own Challah, not as a plait but as a spiral.
That is a good sign coming away nice and cleanly from the bowl.
Why do you have a choice of a plait and a spiral when everything else is so pinned down?
Well, the spiral has the significance.
It is spiralling up to heaven.
Right up there.
Also because it is so easy to do, bakers like to do it for a festival.
Midweek, they are in a rush in the bakery and a spiral is dead easy
and you can get that done quickly and have them in time.
It is a pleasing shape.
So that's as even a snake as one can get it.
Around and around like that.
Spiralling up and we tuck it underneath there.
-That holds it all together.
-Holds it all together, just spiral it from above and it will get sat there.
OK, so that's definitely the quickest way?
It's definitely quick.
How do you feel your family's story of making bread and sharing it weekly?
Can you imagine life without it?
It's so much part of you, it's part of the way you do things.
It would be one of the things that
was part of you that you didn't do.
And I think that would be sort of a hole in one's life.
You do feel a sense of achievement.
OK, so, let's come into the dining room and have
a cup of tea.
I've laid it all out.
Here's the Challah underneath the white cloth.
Very traditional, symbolic of the manna
they found and used to sustain themselves when they were wandering
in the wilderness for 40 years in the wilderness, they had this manna to sustain themselves.
Which they probably got rather fed up with, I think.
It might have been quite nice to begin with, but there are records they grumbled against.
Let's get on to this land of milk and honey, let's move along, guys.
And so, the bread has pride of place in the centre of the table?
Absolutely pride of place in the centre of the table.
Does it go well with tea?
I think so. Would you like to try some?
-OK, let's have a go and see what happens.
It's so easy to cut.
Have a go at that.
They would sprinkle, but you don't have to have salt on there.
Go on, I want to do it, do it the proper way. Thank you.
It's got a very subtle sweetness, a delicious nutty flavour.
So you typically make this on a Thursday evening?
Thursday evening, yes.
You have that wonderful smell and you save it until Friday?
Until Friday, yes. That tradition is, the woman
of the house lights the candles and says a blessing over them.
Then you have the blessing over the wine and then whoever is going to cut the bread, washes their hands.
The tradition is you don't say anything between washing your hands
and actually cutting the Challah, so there is this great silence and the
cover is lifted off. The bread is cut and the blessing said.
And then it's shared round and it's sort of a mixture of warm family and sort of quite a, almost
-A bit of reverence as well?
The visit to Manchester has fired Tom's imagination.
The Challah is a thing of beauty.
What I'm really impressed about is the way it plays a central role in people's daily lives,
and the way it so handsomely sits in the centre of the table.
And seeing Isabel and Andrew's baking has given him new ideas for the Organic Loaf Awards.
For my next attempt at a competition-winning loaf,
I'm going to use white flour, just like Andrew does in his Challah.
Not only will I have a more attractive loaf, but I'll get a much better rise.
The bit that gives bread and dough
its stretchiness, is all part of the protein content of the flour.
That's to be found in the white part of the wheat.
So, the less bran there is in here, the more I'm going to be able to make a stretchier dough that
holds in the carbon dioxide, that the sourdough is giving off.
'Other than changing the flour, I'm using the same basic ingredients,
salt, wholemeal sourdough and water.'
This dough is much wetter than the one I made last time
and that will give me a moister loaf with a more open texture to it.
So, time to set the dough.
This has been in here a good few hours.
I'm going to hedge my bets, going 50/50,
mix some flour into it, firm up one and see how that comes out and go sloppy with the other one.
We'll play spot the difference later, see which one comes out best.
Stick the whole lot upside-down.
Look at that, it's got great body to it, it looks vital, pert, virile.
Can't wait to see how that looks in the morning.
Get it baked off and it won't be long before it's sandwiches and soldiers.
I'm going to put the loaves in the prover, this time I'm going to leave
them overnight to really allow the sourdough flavour to punch through.
But a night in the prover doesn't guarantee success when the loaf is baked.
My two loaves, the one made with
the really wet dough, and the second one I added flour to.
It may look ancient, but this would have been a disaster in any era
to end up with a loaf that has spewed out like that.
This one, I'm feeling really positive about.
It just smells divine.
And when I squeeze it, it crackles.
There's a really great crust,
a massive improvement on my first attempt.
All of this is as good as nothing if it doesn't pass the family test,
I need to take this home and try it on the kids.
OK, I want to know what you think.
Because this is the hardest test for the bread
is to see whether it passes your test.
Do you like it?
Yes? Do you? What do you think it looks like?
Do you think that looks good enough to win?
If you gave it to a child they might play with it and throw it like a Frisbee.
What d'you think it looks like?
I feel a Mamma Mia soundtrack coming on.
Things aren't going well - two attempts and two failures.
The competition is looming, but Tom is a long way from creating an award-winning loaf.
He needs inspiration from somewhere and goes in search of it, in Bristol.
Here in St Nicholas's Market in Bristol
there's a market trader, Trethowan's Dairy, who claims to make the best cheese toastie in the world.
To make it, he's importing bread from Paris, so I've got to
find out what's involved in making this legendary cheese toastie.
And Todd Trethowan isn't just any old cheese monger.
He owns a substantial award-winning business whose customers include leading supermarkets.
-Todd, good to meet you.
I've heard a lot about your infamous cheese toasties.
So you are importing bread from France?
That's right, it's really nice, it's got proper flavour.
And also quite an acidic flavour, which really goes well with the cheese.
It's slightly drier than a lot of breads and I
like to hang on to it for a couple of days to make it slightly drier still, because I reckon it tastes better.
OK. If I'm to try to make something for you that stands in its shoes,
I'm going to have to see it, taste it and understand more about what's involved.
Could you show me the where you keep it and I'll have a sniff and a prod?
Sure, let's go to the shop.
So these came in yesterday.
So you've got rice, Quinoa, wheat, maize corn and then
it's sliced already? OK, it's heavy.
Really is something to get your teeth into.
You have made some with fresh bread, and some with, when you say older?
That is five days old.
It concentrates the flavours slightly being slightly older, I feel like it does.
So it's more intense.
I try and fit them together, but because it in two pieces, I make
sure they are quite big so people get an extra good deal, because it in two bits.
Actually, would a loaf that was slightly more square in profile be better?
That's interesting. I have thought about that.
-It could be.
-So, is this one ready to cook?
If I take an older one...
So, that's the one you put in first.
That's the young one.
You've got this juicy, massively flavoursome middle bit going on.
-And then this really teeth gripping chewy bit.
-That's the older one.
It certainly feels firmer.
It makes sense to do it this way with a drier loaf.
I can see that we've got
a toastie here that you can carry around.
People buying this are busy, you know. Whizzing through.
You want them to be able to grab something that's not only really, really tasty but convenient to eat.
And keeping the bread for a week obviously helps achieve that.
Todd's cheese toastie is just the inspiration Tom needed.
Thanks a lot. Cheers.
I love this Poilane bread.
And it would be an honour to make something that sits equal for you.
a head full of ideas. If you'll allow me, I'll have a go
and, heck, I might even be able to make something better.
-Yes, I look forward to it.
-OK. See you very soon. Cheers.
'I think I can do something really special here, make
'a big loaf for Todd and one I can enter into the competition.'
I'll do it by matching the Poilane, foreign loaf for size but using the best local ingredients.
A big, bold local organic loaf.
-Spelt has been used for thatching, is that right?
-It has been.
It's a very, very old crop.
We believe it was brought to us by the Romans.
Tom's on the hunt for the very best local organic flour he can find.
He's come to Somerset to meet Pete Tincknell, the miller at Sharpham Park.
Pete grows a rare variety of wheat called spelt.
The Romans used spelt because it was very, very high energy content.
They marched on spelt, because it gave them a lot of energy.
It is the best flour without doubt you could use.
Spelt is a distant cousin to wheat and one of the oldest cultivated grains in Britain.
It's been overtaken by varieties of high yield, easy harvest wheat.
But, for Pete, spelt remains better to eat.
There should be more people go into spelt, wheat does tend to have this bloating effect.
It's horrible, wheat intolerance.
If you're using spelt, you're not going to get problems with this intolerance.
It's a more difficult grain to process.
So there's a lot more work goes into getting it into flour.
What you've got is very clean spelt here.
We're slicing the grain, a piece at a time.
We've gently ground it into flour. We haven't been aggressive with it.
We haven't damaged the proteins and the oils and things.
And we haven't put any additives with it in any way whatsoever.
That is your wholegrain flour.
You can see all the little grains, little specks of brown.
-If you feel that, that's quite gritty.
Once we've ground it into that consistency,
then by a sieving process, we can sieve out some of the bran and get you back to a purer, whiter flour.
What you've got here is exactly the same flour but I've removed the majority of the bran.
As you can see, it's a much purer, whiter flour and to touch it, it's like silk.
Isn't that beautiful.
Tom's decided on his flour.
He now needs to find the rest of his ingredients.
Next on the list is water.
Water's a key ingredient, it binds the other ingredients together.
I've come to this spring, just above my bakery, to see if using this makes a difference.
It could be that this water's softer or harder than what comes out of the tap
and given that it's just one of three ingredients, that may have a bearing on the end result.
Water straight out of the hill isn't going to have chlorine and chemicals that you get in tap water.
And with a sourdough,
it's important to give that a good chance.
It may be that I'd get a better sourdough from just using spring water.
That should be enough for a couple of batches.
Tom needs just one more ingredient before he's ready to bake his competition entry. Salt.
I've come right down to the bottom of England in Cornwall where, for
the first time in hundreds of years, they're making sea salt.
Salt is such a key part of my recipe.
If like good sea salt, it has a great flavour and high mineral content, it would build my dough up.
I want to find out where they're making it, how they're making it and whether it's up to the job.
-Good morning, Tony.
-Hello, Tom. Good to see you.
Tony Fraser has set up the salt harvesting plant.
What you've got here is a monster pump which can pump 24 hours, seven
days a week and is pumping the water underground and along here towards the harvesting plant.
The salt is crystallised, as you can see. It's lovely and dry.
What we've got is a small flaky sea salt.
So you can see the different sizes of the crystals.
But it's soft enough to actually crush between the finger and thumb.
And will it dissolve in my dough?
-It will dissolve very easily.
-That's quite key. I don't want lumpy, salty...
-Have a taste.
It's like the bottom of the crisp packet but better.
It has a really, really good, fresh taste straight from the ocean.
It has a sweetness as well. That's going to come through in your bread.
-And will it keep?
-It keeps for ever.
Forever? OK. So, there's no caking agent?
No anti-caking agents, nothing is added.
'Our salt is very, very salty and it means that you can actually use less.
'So we reckon, in your perfect loaf, that you can use 15% less salt.'
I'm really happy, because I've got my key secret ingredient.
-Best of luck.
-Thanks very much. That's great.
This has sown up and completed the process of finding ingredients.
'I've got a great quality spelt flour I'm really happy and excited to be using.
'And sea salt that will flavour, season and enhance my dough.
'Everything's in place.'
I've just got to make this perfect loaf and I'm ready.
Sea salt all the way from Cornwall.
And then, last but not least, some spring water to bring the whole lot together.
There's a limit to how much I can physically mix on the table so this time I'm going to use the mixer.
Just testing it to see if what Tony from the Cornish Sea Salt Company said is true that
good, proper sea salt is more saltier than table salt
and therefore doesn't require so much in the dough.
This tastes great. The sourdough really comes through.
He's right, it doesn't need so much salt.
Just a touch more flour so that it doesn't flow out too much.
'I need to get this right.'
It's been mixing for 10 minutes and I just want to see how elastic this dough is.
It's pretty good. This is going to be
stretchy enough to hold
those precious yeast exhalations in.
And rise my dough nicely. I'm really impressed with this spelt flour.
Right, time to get intimate with this dough.
It's a beaute. It feels lush.
It's warm, it's friendly.
It's got this beautiful golden colour.
It looks and feels like the morning on a great day.
This new dough has allowed me to make a big two kilogram loaf that will stand out from the competition.
I'm going to make it square which will be perfect for Todd.
Its thick crust will seal the moisture in, keeping it fresh for up
to a week which will be ideal for families.
It's the kind of loaf that will be perfect at the centre of any table.
I've moulded a whole load of kilogram loaves in my life but
getting my hands around the these two puppies is a new experience.
'This loaf, for me, is not just good enough to make something that I enjoy eating.
'I've got to find a way of sharing with as many people as possible.'
I dreamt up and conceived the idea of this loaf but it needs a name.
What's it called? I don't think it's a James or a Stephen.
I'm going with... shepherd loaf.
How we slash a loaf
is how we give it our signature.
And this is a tradition borne out of necessity when people were
making loaves at home and taking them to the village baker to be baked.
It's necessary to mark it and sign it in such a way
that the loaf is distinguishable from your neighbour's.
It would be quite fun to have a sheep.
But the problem with this motif is that it would be very tricky
to cut with a knife without the whole thing collapsing.
So that idea is out.
What I'm really going with and what feels really strong to me is to do the shepherd's crook.
It's a loose S but it's a tight idea and it's going to work.
With the crook that's on top, I want to be shepherding more people over to good bread.
Fingers crossed that this absolutely doesn't collapse when I turn it upside down.
There she is. It's like a nice big fluffy pillow.
In she goes. So excited to make such a big loaf.
It's just massive. I know size isn't everything but, boy, this ought to really make a difference.
I really need this to work.
This is ground-breaking stuff for me.
I'm completely off script.
I've never made such a big loaf.
I've never done a square loaf.
I've never risen and proofed a loaf in a cake tin before.
I've never made a spelt sourdough before.
I'm looking for something that's pillowy.
The kind of loaf you'd want to spend some time with.
There she is.
We've got a foxy red crust.
That's going to make a heck of a sandwich.
I'm really pleased. I really feel like I'm on to a winner.
It's the day of the National Organic Food Awards competition.
The bread judging panel will be made up of a miller, a baker and food writers.
Tom doesn't trust anyone else to deliver his loaf.
I'm nervous and excited.
I feel, for sourdoughs, I've taken it as far as I can.
What I've got here is the best of what can be made locally.
But it would just be the icing on the cake if it was to win the award.
I've got some bread to enter.
So, we've got our four entrants...
There are more than 30 entries from bakers across the country.
While the judges assemble, Tom heads back to the Cotswolds.
Taste is the most important thing. But nobody can deny that
-appearance of a loaf of
-bread is massively important.
And appealing. And there are some gorgeously appealing loaves here.
They're going to be looking for the correct crumb and crust.
And how open it is as a loaf often will be a factor.
Whether the holes in there are big or little.
Whether it works as a loaf, whether it's a good idea or a silly idea.
So, you wouldn't put pineapple...
We had a pineapple loaf
once, it really didn't work, you know?
We want loaves of bread
that are benchmarked for quality
and that kind of artisan look and feel.
It's a tremendously reassuring product,
really good bread is, especially in these times,
we need good bakers.
White flour, stoneground, spring water, pitted olives, sea salt, rye flour.
The judging begins.
Can we judge on name? I think that's a misnomer.
Olives don't come from countries where there are cottages,
so I think to call it a cottage olive bread his kind of an off putter.
-I think that's...
-That shows promise.
That's a no-no, isn't it?
A tiny little bit of salt would have made the difference.
I think that's true of a lot of them.
It comes pre-sliced?
They don't know it, but they've reached Tom's loaf.
You can see this lovely texture.
This is a loaf that would look great on a trestle table on a Mediterranean island.
It's already there in the hotel, isn't it?
It'll keep for ages.
You could eat that in a week's time.
It's very difficult though, isn't it?
I think those two
that we started with, they look very nice and then you come to this.
Three times the size,
and it has a greater effect because of it.
I feel like I have almost got an aftertaste of wood.
You could have this with fig jam on,
with a lovely mozzarella toasted.
It's looking good for Tom.
But will all the judges like his powerfully flavoured sourdough?
-So this one?
-Appearance I think
Actually, it's quite sour,
-The decision is on a knife edge.
-It's a close call between Tom's loaf and one other.
I want to take that one home.
It's delicious. My money is on this one.
I've just had the call.
My shepherd's loaf hasn't won Organic Loaf Of The Year, which is disappointing.
But, it's come a close second. It's got highly commended.
This loaf was never about just winning the award.
It's about winning more people over to a better kind of bread.
It's disappointing, but undaunted, Tom is returning to Bristol for a verdict from another tough judge.
Back in St Nicholas's Market, with my shepherd's loaf.
I'm here to see whether it's up to mark for Todd, for his perfect cheese toastie.
Hey, Todd. How are you doing?
-Very good. You?
Here it is. I've sliced one up for you.
I've done it square, so you don't get lose so much from the edges.
-It's a brilliant size.
Let's have a taste.
Worryingly for Tom, Todd has got top cheesemonger Ben Ticehurst with him to judge the loaf.
It's nice, because there's some acidity there as well.
Brilliant. The crust is fantastic, isn't it?
You need your teeth to really engage with it.
And that seals the moisture in, so it means that it'll keep really well.
-This was made yesterday, and I know you like your bread three
days old, you maybe need to give it a couple of days yet.
Also, I love the texture as well.
It's not too loose or open, is it? It's a dense texture, isn't it?
We've tried lots and lots of local sourdoughs,
but none could quite get the texture right, could they?
You'll see when you have a toastie, it's the way the cheese melts and goes in,
needs the bread to have that really good texture.
That one is the closest I've ever tasted.
Is it a high five moment?
We'll see when we taste the toastie.
Absolutely gorgeous. And what a nice colour as well.
-I love it.
-Isn't that beautiful?
The oils have really come through to the outside of the bread, which is what we look for,
I'd definitely like to go with that.
Now you can have a real high five moment.
We've got to do this.
Try our new bread, made by Tom.
It's absolutely gorgeous.
So, in the end the shepherd loaf may not have won the Organic Loaf Award, but it's got Todd's vote.
It's almost the end of Tom's quest to make a perfect loaf.
He began by asking ordinary people about their ideal bread.
Now he's going back to find out what they think of his efforts compared to a standard white sliced.
-I don't eat that kind of bread.
-Why don't you eat it?
Because I don't like it.
Have you eaten this kind of bread?
-What is it?
-Just white bread.
No, I wouldn't eat
Because it's processed.
That's like chewing putty.
I made a loaf. It's got some spelt flour that's grown and milled
locally, and a bit of sea salt from Cornwall and water, and that's it.
-It's not as bad as I thought.
-I can taste the salt.
-Would you try some of my spelt sourdough?
-So, what's in it?
Flour, sea salt and water, that's it.
And that's it?
-Sea salt and water.
-Oh, my God.
Is that all is in there?
What do you reckon?
-Do you like it?
It's a party in my mouth.
-You've got a party in your mouth?
-Quite tasty? Yeah, OK.
Do you want a less crusty bit?
-Too hard for you. Not a fan?
What about the crust?
-Does that put you off?
-That crust is a natural way of
-keeping the moisture in, so it'll keep for a week or 10 days, easy.
-Spelt sourdough. Do you want to try some?
-Let me know what you think.
-I'm on camera!
It's nice. It's nutty.
-I'd eat that.
-All day long.
It's probably special occasion bread rather than day-to-day bread.
I bet that's gorgeous toasted.
With lashings of butter.
-Do you like it, seriously?
Shepherd's loaf, it's called.
-It's lovely. That's special.
It's been a heck of an adventure.
I've got myself spelt flour from Somerset, Cornish sea salt,
Cotswolds finest water, and I've used my family's ancient sourdough.
I've drawn on 1,000 years of great baking skill,
and made a loaf that can take its place at the centre of the table.
-Here's to the shepherd's loaf!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Mm! Smells so good!
Documentary which follows award-winning artisan baker Tom Herbert in his search to bake a loaf that will win him first prize at the National Organic Food Awards.
Tom Herbert's family have been baking bread in the Cotswolds for five generations. Tom started baking with his father and grandfather and at 16 began his formal apprenticeship. Fresh out of college, he won Young Baker of the Year and now, at 32, Tom continues to win awards for the family firm, Hobbs House Bakery.
Tom is passionate about handmade bread and critical of what he describes as the 'plastic-wrapped pap' of the mass-produced bread market. However, given that sales of handmade bread only account for 2 per cent of the market, Tom has his work cut out if he is to convert more people to the joys of handmade bread.
Tom's quest to make the perfect loaf takes him to Cornwall to meet archaeologist Jacquie Wood, to learn how our ancestors might have baked bread. At the medieval water mill at Stanway House in Gloucestershire he meets Professor Brian Reuben, a leading authority on the history of bread, and he visits Brackman's Jewish bakery in Salford run by third generation baker, Andrew Adelman. Here, Tom learns how to make the specialist Jewish bread challah and meets the rabbi who, on his daily inspection of the baking methods and ingredients, ensures that they conform to Jewish religious law.
Tom's journey helps him to come up with what he hopes will be a competition-winning loaf for the National Organic Food Awards - a huge two-kilo, white, spelt, sourdough loaf made using his family's 40-year-old sourdough, organic spelt from Somerset, Cornish sea salt and Cotswold water from a local spring. Tom names it 'The Shepherd's Loaf'. But while it's his perfect loaf, will the judges agree?