CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today CLICK HERE

Hempnall Bakery: Norfolk’s traditional bread makers

PUBLISHED: 09:49 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 02 October 2018

One of Hannah's delicious loaves (photo: Angela Sharpe)

One of Hannah's delicious loaves (photo: Angela Sharpe)

Angela Sharpe Photography 2018

A small Norfolk village is home to a thriving bakery that is bringing back traditional, old-fashioned methods to bread-making

A perfectly toasted slice of bread, dripping with butter, is one of life’s simple pleasures. With supermarket loaves dominating our diet, it is hard to remember how good this should taste; that blend of crunch, chew and softness is utterly delicious.

I can’t talk about good food without feeling hungry, so it was with a rumbling stomach I discovered more about Hempnall Village Bakery and the shift towards proper, real, traditional bread. Hannah Scott and her husband Dan run the small bakery from their late 18th century cottage in this prettysouth Norfolk village.

Both worked in the public sector, but it was the birth of their daughter Daphne and ensuing maternity leave that gave Hannah the opportunity to follow her dream of making bread.

Hannah and Dan in the kitchen (photo: Angela Sharpe)Hannah and Dan in the kitchen (photo: Angela Sharpe)

“It’s all very small scale,” explains Hannah, showing me the cottage kitchen with a compact stone based bread oven: “We take bread orders on a Thursday and then sell on a Saturday, after a very full-on, extended working day on Friday! It means everything is super-fresh and there is zero wastage.”

Hannah was keen to put right a misconception about bread always being yeasted. “The fact is, we were eating naturally risen, fermented bread long before commercial yeasts came along. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that commercial fast-acting yeasts became widespread.”

Then the Chorleywood process was developed in 1961 and is still used for over 80% of the bread consumed in the UK today. It involves using lower-protein wheat, an assortment of additives, sugar, lots of yeast and high-speed mixing. It creates bread that real bread expert Andrew Whitley has described as ‘schizophrenic about time’ because it is so quick to make, but oddly long-lasting.

Kneading the dough (photo: Angela Sharpe)Kneading the dough (photo: Angela Sharpe)

In a century, bread-making had been fast-forwarded and industrialised to produce a cheap, almost disposable product. It has played havoc with our digestion and many believe it has resulted in an increase in gluten intolerance. “It’s amazing how many people say they can’t eat bread,” says Hannah with a smile. “Then they try mine and realise it is very different.”

Hannah’s methods are as far from the Chorleywood process as her pan-tiled kitchen is from an industrial factory. She makes sourdough loaves, which rise thanks to fermentation.

Lactic acid forms, which helps break down the gluten, making it easily digested and reducing the likelihood of bloating and stomach pain that sensitive tummies can experience. Hannah also bakes yeasted breads, using long-fermentation.

The finished loaf emerges from the oven (photo: Angela Sharpe)The finished loaf emerges from the oven (photo: Angela Sharpe)

Instead of the fast-acting yeasts many of us are used to, this approach leaves the dough to rise slowly, overnight, and also creates readily digestible gluten.

This is a small business at the heart of the community. The family have got to know their neighbours and linked with other small food businesses in a time when it seems supermarkets and mass produced food have won the battle.

Hannah is hopeful that we are returning to a local food culture, reawakening a forgotten community memory of how good this feels, and critically, how good this tastes.

To find out more about real bread and to have a go yourself, read Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own. For more info about Hempnall Village Bakery visit

1 comment

  • So, so happy and privileged to have this wonderful bakery in our village. It is, as Hannah says, fabulous to have local real food, especially when it tastes as good as this. Hannah & Dan are great people too

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EDP Norfolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EDP Norfolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EDP Norfolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More From Food & Drink

Wed, 10:24

Award-winning distiller Bullards has unveiled a new gin and a new look that harks back to its Norwich heritage

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Peach, pear, plum, quince, jostaberry and medlar too; we take a tour of our fruitful county

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

Enjoy our scrummy ‘Halloween’ themed afternoon tea in relaxed, comfy and funky surroundings.

Read more

A small Norfolk village is home to a thriving bakery that is bringing back traditional, old-fashioned methods to bread-making

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We’ve created the ultimate guide to eating and drinking in Norwich. From brunch spots to cocktail bars, you’ll want to bookmark this page

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It can sometimes be hard to find a good meal as a vegan or even a vegetarian, but Norwich has embraced the plant-based way of life and offers a plethora of vegetarian and vegan eateries to choose from. We have chosen ten places to eat in Norwich for herbivores

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Nothing is more British than the fish and chip shop. Whether you prefer enjoying them by the seafront or slouching on your sofa, Norfolk has got you covered

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Norwich always seems to be welcoming a new addition to its eclectic list of great places to eat out. We pick some of the city’s best restaurants that you need to visit

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Cooking high quality beef isn’t that hard, says Andrew Jones, if you follow these steps

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Congratulations to all finalists and those nominated. After the glittering ceremony, we can now reveal our 13 winners

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search