(Photograph by Roybread)
I came across the lovely Rachel (of Roybread) and her sourdough on Instagram (God bless social media). Based in West London Rachel bakes and hand delivers loaves of delicious sourdough every week. Is there anything dreamier than freshly baked bread hand delivered to your front door? I don’t think so!
I caught up with Rachel to find out a little more about Roybread.
So Rachel, tell us how Roybread started?
It started when I was moved to Venice this time last year for an internship. I was really excited at the prospect of eating amazing Italian bread for three months, but it turns out that bread in Venice is pretty awful. The first – and last – ciabatta I bought at the local bakery was crumbly and pretty tasteless, and went stale the same day. So out of desperation I started making my own bread, using wholegrain flour from the one shop in the whole city which sold it (Italians make everything with 00 flour, the whitest of white flour). Although my loaves were pretty average they seemed incredible compared to the bread on the shelf. Soon I found out about sourdough and all its benefits, and made my first sourdough starter. (It sadly died, along with its two sucessors, however number four has been alive and well for about 8 months.)
(Photograph by Roybread)
There are so many food trends these days telling us what we should and shouldn’t be eating (gluten free being one of them). Your ethos is that using proper, wholegrain ingredients bread can be part of a healthy diet. Is this your approach to food in general?
Definitely. People think of the idea of ‘whole foods’ as a slightly faddy health craze, something associated with veganism, gluten-free etc. But really it’s just eating natural foods and not messing with them. People think gluten is the enemy because they feel bloated or heavy after eating wheat, but really it’s because of the white flour, created by stripping away the nutritious part of the grain to leave the sweetest, starchiest part. When it’s done right, bread is simply a plant that has been ground up, mixed with water and salt and slowly fermented. And it will make you feel good afterwards – even if you eat 5 slices.
Are there any establishments around London your bread can be sampled?
Not yet but hopefully very soon! I’m looking for a big second-hand oven so I can really start to expand.
For those of us who want to try our hand at a bit of at home baking, what are your tips?
My main tip is to do sourdough not yeasted bread! People think making a sourdough starter is really complicated but all you do is mix together flour and water and leave it for 3 days. Sourdough is so much better for you because the live culture feeds on the gluten and the sugars in the flour, breaking it all down before it enters your body. I would really recommend the Tartine Bread sourdough recipe on the New York Times website – it’s from a bakery in San Fransisco which is said to make the best bread in the world. However I would say that you should alter their 90/10 white to wholegrain flour ratio to half and half.
(Photograph by Roybread)
We all have our preferences when it comes to bread. Be it topped with scrambled eggs on lazy Saturday morning, or my personal preference toasted with a generous helping of butter. How do you eat yours?
At the moment I love toasting it, rubbing it with garlic and putting on chopped tomatoes, flaked salt, olive oil and torn basil. I also discovered recently spreading it with butter and honey and then a pinch of salt.
I supplied my bread for Tart’s Kitchen (Tart London), a 2 month pop-up restaurant, and they made the most amazing open sandwiches with it, such as spicy eggs and avocado.
One of the best things about bread is how versatile it is. What flavours are you currently loving?
I do deliveries on my bike and change the flavour every week. Walnut is a crowdpleaser, but my favourites are olive, rosemary & sundried tomato, seedy (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin & golden linseed) and oat & almond. I soak all nuts and seeds in water before adding them to the dough, which I know sounds slightly health-freak-y but it makes them much more digestible.
Baking aside, how do you like to fill your time?
I’m currently studying History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, but one of the reasons I started Roybread was because university feels so part-time – you go in for an hour-long lecture and then leave again. I also love making films.
You currently deliver your beautiful loaves by hand around West London. Are there any plans to expand Roybread in the future?
Yes! As soon as I sort out a proper oven I want to start supplying to restaurants and delis, as well as expanding the deliveries. Luckily for me there is very little good sourdough in West London so it might all work!
(Photograph by Iona Wolff)
If you’re lucky enough to live in West London then check out Roybread here for details on how to order her amazing bread. For those who don’t I hope you’re inspired to try your hand at some homemade sourdough! I know I am…