Food | The Reconnoisseur

A sublime sourdough loaf from the village bakery

Visitors to the Suffolk coast have this bakery firmly in their sights

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A sublime sourdough loaf from the village bakery

Image: Keiko Oikawa

January 22 2011
Katrina Burroughs

Great sourdough bread, freshly baked, is a treat I’d travel many miles for, so I was thrilled when Pump Street Bakery opened on my doorstep, in the village of Orford, Suffolk. The bakery’s speciality, Vermont sourdough (small: £2; large: £3.50), is a sublime loaf, perfect for toast soldiers, with a creamy boiled egg, and delicious as a foil to spicy pumpkin soup – both of which dishes are presently on the short, seasonal menu in the bakery café.

For those who aren’t already aficionados, sourdough is a chewy, artisanal bread with a crunchy russet-brown crust and a distinctive yoghurty tang. In taste and texture, it’s a world away from anaemic, supermarket sliced white. Making stellar sourdough is a technical challenge (the focus of furious internet debate and passionate blogs), and Pump Street’s loaves took intensive R&D to perfect. For the Vermont recipe, Chris Brennan, the proprietor, settled on a starter sourced from a friend in San Francisco, and, as his flour, uses a mixture of organic English products: Marriage’s strong white flour and Stoate and Sons’ water-milled stoneground white flour. And voilà, my all-time favourite bread.

Nowadays, the foodie visitors who flock to our corner of coastal Suffolk, who used to come for the smoked fish and oysters, have Pump Street’s Vermont sourdough firmly in their sights, and it sometimes sells out by noon. I’d advise that you roll up for your loaf at breakfast time – just after I’ve bought mine – to avoid disappointment.

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