Professional foodie, Tim Hart of Hambleton Hall and master baker Julian Carter have combined their love and energy for ‘real bread’. Hambleton’s Artisan Bakery is what Tim Hart would call his ‘Spa’. Always improving, always moving forward Tim is developing Hambleton Hall by providing Julian Carter with a suitable facility to bake his beautiful traditional breads from. Sarah Lyon meets with both to find out how the Hambleton Loaf is soon to become synonymous with the area.
Ten years ago trained chef Julian Carter knocked on the door of Hambleton Hall. Shortly there after Head Chef, Aaron Paterson made Julian his sous chef. Both Julian and Aaron have a reverence for the sourcing of local produce and an addiction to perfection. Breads are baked daily at Hambleton Hall. In fact Aaron features a variety of different breads on the menu to compliment dishes prepared throughout the day and evening.
Julian is a fourth generation baker. His family lived in Bath and curiously enough were responsible for taking over the patent of the Bath Oliver Biscuit from Dr Bath Oliver when he retired. The family eventually moved on to Liverpool where Julian grew up apprenticing along side his father in the family business, Carters Confectionary. For Julian, the smell of bread conjures up childhood memories of Saturdays spent in the bakers van with children tied into their seats by way of the cake racks.
Julian claims that he has always wanted to go back to baking and he explains that it was by pure fluke that Tim wanted to produce it. He explains, “as a chef you have three clear deadlines a day. A baker’s temperament has to be patient as bread has a mind of its own and can be slightly unpredictable. Time and space are essential for the slow fermenting method used to produce our signature loaves.”
Julian has an expert knowledge of his craft and is clear to point out that the high speed process of roller milling used for making mass produced quantities of flour is in his view a crime against the campaign for real bread. The heat produced by this method destroys all the natural goodness of the flour. Julian believes that the bread made with this processed flour is responsible for the dietary intolerances we see today. In contrast, the Hambleton Loaf scores heavily for its flavour and kindness to the digestion.
Hambleton Bakery will produce artisan breads from organic flour milled by Nigel Moon at Whissendine Windmill. Nigel stone grinds his wheat meaning that the raw ingredient is not overheated. All the goodness and natural health benefits remain in the flour giving the bread a lovely creamy flavour. Julian describes a healthy loaf of bread as a ‘pot of gold’, everything you need for a healthy diet. The folic acid and the wheat germ are full of essential vitamins.
The ingredients for his breads couldn’t be simpler; salt, water, flour. A long fermentation process is the secret to the success of these artisan loaves. The texture of the bread will change with the long fermentation whilst the natural sugars feed the yeast giving the bread a slightly sour taste. Julian aligns good bread with organic in which the wheat is grown free from exposure to pesticides and herbicides.
This new venture brings together an array of craftsmen from the local region and beyond. The principal oven has been sourced from Barcelona in Spain. Apparently a very low-tech device made of 6 tons of bricks and fired by wood logs. Local craftsman Michael Trigg has built the oven up from scratch. A dead trade here in
England but one that is still thriving in Spain. The oven will be fuelled by wood trimmings off the Exton Estate. Viscount and Viscountess Campden have been very supportive of the project and it is the old power station for the disused Ironstone quarry at Exton Park Estate that Julian and Tim are converting into Hambleton Bakery. It takes 10 days to build up the heat in the oven. The oven will cook from the base up allowing the natural steam from the breads to contribute to the rising process. Another local craftsman, Dick Butterworth, has sourced an old artifex machine of over eighty years old from an old bakery in Soham, Cambridge. This machine will slowly knead 50 kilos of flour and will help to produce bread like it was made before the war.
This could all sound like an expensive business but Julian is clear to point out that this organic bakery will be affordable for all. Their signature loaves, ‘Hambleton Local’ and ‘Hambleton Sourdough (using local organic stone ground flour and beer barm (naturally fermented yeast from beer) from the Grainstore Brewery) have now been in production for many months and on the menu at Hambleton Hall.