You might remember that we are quite fussy about our food. Oh, not in a "Oh no, I don't eat that!" kind of way - although Ben is a bit funny about carrots, and tomatoes - but in that we like to know where it's come from, and that it hasn't travelled too far, and if it's been alive at any stage, that it had at least a reasonably cheery existence while it was still living. We eat relatively little pre-prepared food, don't buy ready meals, cook mostly from scratch and steer clear so far as we can of the sort of stuff that seems entirely unnatural to us - Turkey Twisslers and Quorn spring to mind....we shop on a budget, yes, but we don't eat rubbish just because it's cheap.
For the most part, we make our own bread - we have a breadmaker and we either use it to mix & knead the dough, and then bake in the oven as rolls, or let it bake right through if we want a loaf. The results are extremely good - it's not an expensive machine and yet the bread it turns out is excellent, we have no complaints. Sometimes though, something more is needed - something a bit special.....
We are extremely fortunate in that "Something a bit special" in the bread line can be found just a couple of miles along the road at Mayfield Farm Bakery. From the moment you walk in through the doors you know you've found somewhere very special indeed...you pick up your wicker shopping basket ready for your chosen loaf (or loaves, more likely!) and someone greets you with a cheery smile!
Bread in many different shapes, sizes and flavours, pastries, pies, cakes and ciabattas, whatever your "bread itch" Nick & his team have a loaf or a tasty treat to scratch it - the work of preparing and baking all these marvels takes place right in front of you too - the bakery is in one end of the building with the shop right next door, the smells defy all description but are tempting in the extreme!
They have bread variants you'll never even have considered possible, and from what we have sampled so far, they are all utterly delicious. From a straight white, to Beetroot and red onion, through to Stilton & Raisin (Raisin? Yes, really!) think of a flavour combination and not only will Nick probably have tried it, he will have found a way of combining the ingredients to make it damned tasty, too. On the right hand side of the pic above is one of our favourites - Nigella Seed & Jacket Potato.....yum!
They don't slack on the cake front either - and even better, if you simply can't resist sampling sooner rather than later there is now an on-site cafe serving their own produce - perfect for a tea & cake break!
As so often happens I ended up with a Sourdough loaf - a particular favourite of mine, you can see ours right in the front of the shot above, actually, it was every bit as delicious as it looks, believe me.
If you live in Essex or Hertfordshire, I can't urge you strongly enough to pay Mayfield a visit - small local businesses need all the help and support they can get from their local communities, and at just two miles away from here we certainly count as their local community! These guys may be small, but their products speak for themselves in terms of quality, and they work ethically sourcing as many local ingredients as they can - the flour for the bread for example comes from just a few miles up the road in Chelmsford, Tomatoes and honey from Hertfordshire, and rapeseed oil from Suffolk. If you're too far away to make Mayfield practical, then why not scout around locally and see if you have an artisan bakery nearby? You won't regret it when you taste the spoils, trust me!
For the avoidance of doubt, I should say that although Mayfield were aware I was going to be blogging about them, they only know that as I explained when I asked for permission (readily granted) to take the photos. They had no idea what I was going to say, nor have I been offered any inducement or sponsorship to sing their praises - it is simply well deserved praise from a very satisfied customer.