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Winner: Beetroot Multiseed Sourdough, Seasons Bakery

In addition to beetroot, this loaf contains two more key ingredients – time and love, explains Dan Nemeth, owner of North Yorkshire-based Seasons Bakery.

“Both go into making it a great-tasting loaf,” he says. “You can’t rush any aspect of the process; the taste comes from all the factors that have contributed.”

Made with a three-day process, using cold-proofing, the loaf comprises a sourdough starter that is fed with fresh, grated beetroot.

“This gives the active starter a great smell,” says Nemeth. “Then I add fresh grated beetroot to the dough itself, but first it has been slowly roasted with seasoning and olive oil in the oven.”

At the end of the process, the shaped dough is baked on the stone floor of the oven at a high temperature with lots of steam.

The bread, which was named Britain’s Best Loaf in the 2017 competition organised by British Baker, has proved a hit with consumers, and Nemeth has had to make the retarder bigger and has bought a new oven to ensure he maintains its consistency.

“This loaf has an appealing golden colour and good shape.
It also has a good crumb structure, and good distribution of
beetroot, giving it a lovely aroma and taste.”

Colin Lomax, category judge

Finalist: New Forest Wild Garlic & Emmental Sourdough,
Reeve the Baker

Ingredients for this loaf include wheat and spelt flour, as well as salt, water and the wild garlic & Emmental cheese.

“This bread is made using our three-day long fermentation process, which develops real flavour, open texture and excellent crust,” explains owner Gary Reeve.

The wild garlic, which is so key to the taste of the loaf, is a seasonal product, sourced just a few miles from the bakery’s location in Wilton, Wiltshire.

“The flavour and smell are softer and more natural than supermarket garlic,” he adds.

After fermentation, the dough is scaled and put into baskets lined with fresh, whole garlic leaves before being baked in a stone-floor oven. It is then delivered to Reeve’s 12 shops, where it is sold in branded wax bags.

“The flavour combination works very well. The bread has good keeping qualities due to the long fermentation process,” adds Reeve.

“We use only the best natural ingredients and we never add any artificial flavours, dried sours, or commercial yeasts.”

Finalist: Slow-proved Seeded Sourdough, Poppyseed Bakery

This loaf was inspired by a bread produced by Poppyseed Bakery using yeast.

“We wanted to give customers the sourdough option with those same flavours, but with the added sour taste and texture,” explains owner Lee Smith, adding that the Sussex-based business makes the bread in various shapes depending on the demands of its wholesale customers.

Sunflower, pumpkin and poppy seeds are used in the dough, and it gets topped with sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds.

“We’ve been making it for about 11 years now. The bread is a good seller alongside our other sourdoughs. Where we are located, traditional breads are still the most popular with our customers.”

To help promote his breads, Smith has short videos on his website, showing breadmaking from the starter dough through to the finished loaf.

Smith started his career as a bakery apprentice in 1984 and opened Poppyseed Bakery in December 2016.