Nostalgia is a Freshly-Baked Loaf

The queue’s gone down outside Vanora’s now. You could pop in for a loaf.

A couple of months ago, a new baker’s opened in Ripon.  Goodness, it was welcome.  A baker’s shop as a baker’s shop ought to be.

Vanora and Andrew get up in the small hours, when all the world’s abed, to fashion and bake their loaves.  The great pails of dough will already by then have been slowly proving and rising over a period of hours.  This is sourdough, fermented from  the natural yeasts present in the air we breathe, rather than using the commercially-available yeast usual in British breadmaking.

And oh – the bread it produces!  A wonderfully chewy crust, and a loaf with a slightly sour, characterful taste.  Riponians have taken this extra-special bread to their hearts, and ahead of opening time (only Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at present) an eager queue forms outside the door.

How this reminds me of our years in France.  The first job of our day was to queue outside the baker’s for our morning bread, croissants or pains au chocolat.  It was an unhurried task.  We’d all stand cheerfully in line, catching up with neighbourhood gossip, swapping recipes: generally having a sociable time.  And so it is outside Vanora’s.  We meet old friends, make new ones, and once inside, are greeted by name by Vanora and Andrew as we take the time to chat to them too.  This, we all agree, is shopping as it ought to be.  Oh, and on Saturdays, Vanora makes croissants too.  Don’t tell anyone in France, but …. these are the best croissants we’ve ever tasted. You could stock up on brownies, focaccia, sausage rolls and pork pies too.  These last two aren’t our thing, but I’m told they’re far and way the best in town. (Please note:  I am not being paid by V&A for this shameless piece of advertising.)

Vanora serves a customer….
… perhaps with one of these loaves.

This isn’t the only reason for my feelings of nostalgia though. Brought up in London as an Anglo-Polish girl, east-European-style sourdough loaves were as much a part of my life as baps, cottage loaves and wholemeal tins.  Good memories.

This is an entry for Lens-Artists Challenge #75 – Nostalgic, despite the fact that I was limited to using my non-smart-smartphone to take my snapshots.

 

40 thoughts on “Nostalgia is a Freshly-Baked Loaf”

  1. How very lucky you are in Ripon. Real sourdough bread as opposed to the somewhat suspect supermarket ‘sourdough’ offerings. It all looks lovely the shop front, the colourful interior and the very crusty bread, and a lady baker to boot.

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    1. Oh, she’s great – they both are. But we’ve had a long wait for decent bread in Ripon. Until they came along, the best available – and it isn’t bad – is actually stocked in a supermarket, Booths.

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  2. I would really miss my daily (bar Monday) trip to our boulangerie, it’s as much for the social aspect as the bread. I do envy you sourdough though, still haven’t got round to starting a culture off. One day. And I’ll ignore your best croissant remark 🙂

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    1. I went through a sourdough phase, but it became my master. Always having to feed it, divide it, think about it. Though at least, unlike Kalba’s partner John, I didn’t take the darn’d thing on holiday with me. And honestly, I regret to say that these Riponian croissants are The Best.

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  3. Now that is truly a nostalgic example Margaret. Your post made me smell the bread and feel it’s warmth as is comes out of the oven. At the same time one can imagine how tired the bakers must be each day as they ready their delicious offerings. It sounds like your village is a perfect home for them and I’m sure your appreciation means everything to the proprietors. Loved the story

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  4. Oh, that sounds fabulous, Margaret! I love the ‘old-fashionedness’…. Gething to know the customers, the sociable element, community spirit Priceless, and what our ageing population needs,

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  5. Oooh – this bread is just up my street (and I wish it were!) Does the bread have fruit in it?

    My sourdough starter has gone the way of all things – I was away for too long and I haven’t got around to starting it up again since from the dried material I’d saved. I’m 20% sad about that and 80% happy, but at least I know I can make it if required. The bit I loved best was being able to put unusual ingredients in it like apricots, which I’ve never seen commercially available.

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    1. They do any number of different loaves. I think you’d like the breakfast loaf, which has fruits and nuts including apricots. Olive bread anyone? Seeded? Spelt? Standard-proved and very-slow-proved white and wholemeal. And a couple of one offs weekly, like the recent lemon zest one (yum!)

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      1. I feel envious… not a feeling I usually indulge myself in, but it’s only about fine bread which I would appreciate having close to hand. I have tried Booths’ bread – I actually worked for them during the holidays years ago when I was a student. Waitrose have a sliced, seeded sourdough I like too, not that you’ll be needing that with this baker close to hand.

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      2. Booths’ bread – or at least the loaves our branch stocks – is pretty good I think. As we don’t have a Waitrose to hand, it was our preferred choice before this bakery opened up.

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      3. There’s a Waitrose in Walton-le-Dale on the way to Preston and I pop in just for the seed sourdough which toasts and freezes well. My only problem with your new local bakery would be that I have too little competition in my house for eating it, and if I have good fresh bread around, it really tempts me.

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  6. What a lucky lot you are 🙂 Not that I am complaining cos our boulangerie spits out some fine morsels. But dare I say it…I don’t buy it too often because I make my own bread, a good wholemeal bloomer or tin loaf. I have yet to find a really good wholemeal or wheatmeal loaf in France. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place! Oh, I gave up on sourdough years ago cos I just couldn’t be bothered feeding it and keeping it going, and as there is just me, it was too much 🙂

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    1. You’re right. Decent wholemeal is hard to come by, though we used to swear by our own baker’s pain noir, a dark rye. And yes, making sourdough starts to rule your life doesn’t it?

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  7. How great to have a good bakery within reach. We are lucky too as we have a good artisan bakery not too far away, and they have good coffee too. They make different loaves each day, so it is always interesting.
    I keep my sourdough starter going on the counter top, and top up my jar in the fridge everyday. I have found that the fridge stash can keep for over three weeks without needing feeding, and I can then bring it out to freshen it up, using the discard to make yummy muffins. The fridge stash means I need not be a slave to the starter.
    Currently though we have rolling blackouts (called load shedding here), the most extreme yet, due to problems with our electricity supply as the national grid is under pressure due to old power stations, maintenance problems and now wet coal! Off course these problems stem from long-standing poor management and planning. Mostly the blackouts take place according to a schedule, but this week in addition to the scheduled outages we have had lots of short unscheduled outages that really messed up the bread I was baking today. At least it was an ordinary loaf and not a more complicated sourdough. I think for the time being we will have to rely on the bakery – many small business have to have portable generators these days in order to keep their businesses going. It is a disaster though for the large factories and mines …
    Thinking of you on election day today ….

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    1. A good tip about the sourdough ‘mother’. But I think I may stick to contributing to the success of a local business – and so sorry about our problems. Different countries, different problems – but all a pain!

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