Our story and our ethos
Amazing-Grains was inspired partly out of frustration at the sorry state of bread in the UK, and by the experience, of seeing many parts of the world, where good honest bread was still being made, by artisans with passion, and lifelong skills. We loved finding regional variations, borne from centuries of tradition , still being consumed by customers who held good local bread in high esteem.
We began to learn , from books, from generous bakers and friends, all over the world that time, care, and good honest ingredients were fundamental to producing good bread. We learnt about the different types of grains that made good bread flour, and the essential alchemy which turned these grains into a virtually limitless variety of healthy products. We began producing bread as a microbakery, using the kitchen of our small cottage, sharing, or selling to friends, in the pub, then supplying other local pubs and restaurants. Eventually we had to move into larger premises . So now, here at our East St. bakery in Olney, we produce small batches, of wholesome, hand made, tasty bread with no additives, or processing aids of any kind, and destined for the local community.
Our passion for making bread began in Olney, the town where John Newton wrote his famous hymn "Amazing Grace", and where his friend William Cowper penned the phrase "Variety is the very essence of life". And so, with a new home for our new skills, we decided that "Amazing Grains" would be a fitting name for our new bakery.
We joined like minded people in the Real Bread Campaign, to campaign for using traditional long fermenting techniques, good honest flour, and transparent labeling of bread ingredients. We also support their campaign to encourage the growth of community bakeries offering skilled employment, and an understanding of the connection between the fields of grain around us, and our daily bread .
Industrial grade flour often has gluten or bran, extracted from one process, traded as commodities, then added back in another, together with enzymes, and 'clean label' ingredients, to obscure other processes, yet still comply with labeling laws. Our definition of good honest flour, for making good honest bread, is flour which:
- Contains as much UK or European grain as possible.
- Has been either stone-ground by craft millers, preferably using wind or water power.
- If roller milled, is milled in the UK, by smaller family firms of millers
- Boasts attributes from blending rather then the addition of extracted elements, such as gluten and the re-introduction of bran etc.
- Is either untreated, or has no additives, other than the statutory vitamins required by UK Law
Factory processes are fast, producing bread in less than an hour. They use highly mechanized mixing, high volumes of yeast, chemical additives to add flavour, extend shelf life, and move the dough through it's process.
We prefer to use only the minimum amount of yeast, or culture our own yeast from those naturally occurring on the grain, and in the air. We mix and knead our doughs gently, prove them in cool places or overnight to complete the fermentation, and produce flavour, rather then volume, thus making them easier to digest, and with a flavour and texture, second to none. We also insist on using pure Sea Salt, harvested by evaporation, and to which no 'anti caking' agent, such as Ferro-Cyanide, has been added.
Where other ingredients are added, i.e. herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, these are natural, unadulterated, and wherever possible, seasonal and locally sourced.
We're always happy to discuss the ingredients used and our process with anyone.