Lewes baker and brewer team up to create medieval loaf

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The Hearth, Lewes’ only wood fired bakery, has teamed up with Harveys Brewery to make an authentic mediaeval style loaf of bread.

Master Brewers Harveys and Master Baker Michael Hanson are both passionate about their respective crafts; it seemed natural that Michael should leaven his bread with Harveys’ brewing yeast.

The brewery’s Edmund Jenner said: “For more than 500 years baking and brewing were inextricably linked, with many bakehouses adjoining breweries in the Middle Ages. It seemed perfect to allow Michael, a third generation baker, to use our yeast in much the same way as our forebears would have.”

Michael has been baking sourdough artisan bread for more than 30 years, and is one of the country’s leading exponents. For this loaf he is using an ancient type of wheat called ‘rivet’, first brought over to Sussex by the Norman invaders 1,000 years ago.

It is now grown in very small quantities in Oxfordshire by farmer and miller John Letts. Michael also has a special heritage flour made up of many ancient varieties such as spelt, emmer, einkorn, rye and barley. He explained: “The loaf we bake is probably one of the healthiest and historic loaves made for centuries. The combination of only Harveys yeast, organic flour with its especially soluble gluten, and the long overnight fermentation make our loaves particularly suitable for people who cannot eat ‘modern bread’.

“Real bread lovers will notice the extraordinary depth of flavour imparted by the flour, the yeast and the process, not to mention the wood fired oven.”

The bread is on sale Wednesday to Saturday at the Bakehouse in the Bus Station, opposite Waitrose in Lewes.