We always feel an affinity with food producers who have principles about what they do, and are passionate about what they create. Artisan baker Alex Gooch is no exception to the rule.
‘Good bread takes patience, passion and instinct. The wild yeast starter and long fermentation act as a natural preservative and flavour enhancer, giving the bread superb depth and character. Making bread brings you into the moment completely. It stimulates all of the senses whether it be the feel or look of the dough, the sweet toasted smell of the baking bread, or the crackle as you squeeze a stone baked ciabatta.’
Another reason why we get along with Alex is, of course, that he cares about the ingredients he uses. He describes Halen Môn as a ‘magical’ sea salt, commenting that ‘the dedication and passion that Alison and David put into producing their salt is reflected in the quality.’
The ingredient plays a major role in my bakery. It has been in bread that has won me competitions including the BBC Food and Farming Awards best food producer, Waitrose and Country Living Made in Britain Awards, Great Taste Awards and most recently the World Bread Awards, where I won two categories (ciabatta and flatbreads) and was second in two categories (sourdough and speciality). I love the provenance of Halen Môn, and the sheer physical beauty of it. It really gives the X Factor when added to bread.’
And Alex’s bread certainly has the X factor – made slowly and with care, his sourdough is what a loaf should be – delicious, satisfying and wholesome.
If you ever get the opportunity to try Alex’s bread around South Wales and Hay on Wye, we urge you to – he makes everything from a Sharpham Spelt loaf to a Raisin Rye. His loaves will soon be available to order online, and he also offers some rather good courses.