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This category champions bread that is innovative, original and lovingly crafted, as well as looking and tasting great.
Winner: Chocolate Sourdough, Buzzing Bee Baked Things
“It’s like having dessert in your bread!” That’s how London-based Buzzing Bee Baked Things describes its enticing Chocolate Sourdough.
The dough is slightly sweet due to light brown sugar and milk in the mix and swirled with intense cocoa. The irresistibility factor is upped even further with milk and dark chocolate chips.
No yeasts are used in the making of this sourdough, which is bulk-proofed for four-to-five hours before the chocolate chips are added to create the swirl. The bread is then put in the fridge for cold proving overnight and baked the next morning.
The marbling inside the loaf comes out different every time due to the hand-made process, and the judges were highly impressed by the precision of the folding and moulding that went into the creating this stunning effect. It wasn’t just the appearance of the loaf that caught the panel’s attention, though, as the smell also met with its approval.
Moreover, the judges were wowed by the depth of taste and the perfect open sourdough texture. “Wow, just wow,” was the reaction, as the loaf scored top marks all round. The panel concluded that the bread was utterly delicious and showed what creative innovation and a high level of skill could achieve when using a sourdough base.
Finalist: Handcrafted Sourdough, Marks & Spencer
The Handcrafted Sourdough from Marks & Spencer uses stoneground flour, which the manufacturer says enables the gluten to develop and aid the structural properties to deliver volume and a characteristic chewy crumb with a crisp crust.
The wholemeal flour, milled in the Cotswolds, is also chosen for its ability to deliver higher levels of acidity and an overall fruitier-flavoured loaf.
The blend of white, rye and wholemeal flours are formulated to deliver a deep, acetic flavour profile. The dough is fermented using the manufacturer’s 30-year-old levain made in house and, at the end of the 30-hour process, is hand cut and shaped into batards and then baked with plenty of steam in a stone bake oven.
The methods used are designed to help develop the flavour and open crumb, and the judges were impressed with both, along with the loaf’s attractive appearance with great ears, produced by consistent cutting and neat marking.
Finalist: Malted Beer & Plum Sourdough Tin Loaf, Seasons Bakery
This innovative loaf from Ingleton-based Seasons Bakery mixes the malty bitterness of beer with the sweetness of plum and honey to offer a real depth of flavour. The fruit adds an almost moist texture to an even crumb structure and, when toasted, the bread offers an alternative take on the traditional teacake.
On day one, the sourdough ferment and sponge is made using beer, and day two sees the dough mixed and added to the rest of the ingredients apart from the plums, which are added in the final few minutes of mixing to avoid them breaking up. The dough is then bulk fermented for eight hours before proofing and baking.
In total, the fermentation process takes 72 hours. This, according to the baker, produces maximum flavour and an even crumb structure.
And the judges’ opinion? “It tasted lovely,” they said.
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