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First direct impact that the recession has had on us - our friendly, local, family-run bakery is closing shop this Saturday! There is a Greggs over the road from them, but their bread isn't a patch on that from the Shoebox (and the bread in Waitrose always leaves me feeling rather under-whelmed).

On the plus side, they're keeping the catering and celebration cakes side going, but not from the Portswood shop.

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Oh I'm sorry to hear that. We are if anything using the local shops more not less.. if you pop into the bakers for a loaf you can't then buy 6 unrelated things that looked good unlike the supermarket.

The best bit was being woken up by Alex at 6am, getting to the bakery as it opened at 7am and buying loaves still hot from the oven for breakfast.

I try to use local shops wherever I can - I hate supermarkets, and I think it saves me money, for the reason you state.

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The cakes in the Shoebox are variable, but the bread is good. They were one of the few places that does a rye loaf, although you can now buy Polish-style rye in quite a few places.

I mostly agree with you on Portswood. Dewhurst has been gone for a couple of years, and there's been nothing to take its place. I suspect that either Gannaway's or Long's will disappear at some point (International Foods are really pushing their fresh produce). Woolies is dead, dead, dead (though that's more of a mercy killing).

On the plus side, October Books moved to Portswood (though I understand that you may have a different opinion about that) and Portswood Hardware still seems to be going strong.

We might have to investigate other local independent bakeries. Not sure if there is one in Bitterne, there's def. one near our dentist.

I'm not sure if I'd bother with Hoffers on Burgess Road; I don't remember their stuff ever being particularly good.

Which is why I didn't mention it ;)

Sounds like the one Steve is talking about.

The bread in hoffers is not amazing, but the cakes are good. The owner is also basically the nicest person in the world. Any time I go in there and she's there, I wander out smiling.

we've got one in bitterne park. never been to it though.

What a shame; it's very tough for small independent retailers to compete with the supermarket behemoths now :(

I personally would recommend a combination of a Panasonic bread machine (I'm sure there are other good brands, but Panasonic are the ur-brand here) and flour and concentrates from www.freebake.co.uk . That latter isn't organic, but the bread is so much nicer than when we use stoneground organic flour from the windmill. Hmm. We mostly bake using 50% multiseed (or sunflower and poppy seed) concentrate, 25% white flour, and 25% wholemeal flour. The bread is cheaper than similar breads from a shop, but we also tend to bake almost exactly as much as we use; when we bought bread from supermarkets we tended to buy too much.

Our kitchen is not quite large enough to swing a cat; were we to get a bread machine, it would probably end up in the space on the counter currently occupied by the four-slot Dualit, which would rather put the kibosh on toast for breakfast (our main route to bread consumption). :(

fides' kitchen in Dublin is proper tiny - you could at least swing a kitten in yours, we could hardly swing a gnat. My strategy when I move in there is that we'll put the breadmaker in our broom closet, or at the very least in the spare bedroom. It doesn't really need to be in the kitchen at all - in fact, since they can be a bit noisy, somewhere more out of the way would be ideal. If you're doing a loaf a day or every few days, you can just load up the ingredients into the baking tin in your kitchen, then carry it to wherever the machine is.

If I recall correctly, you've got a fairly nice loft conversion, haven't you? Why not leave it up there? Run it overnight, and you'll have the smell of fresh bread wafting down into the bedrooms in the morning, maybe.

(Of course, you don't exactly need a bread-maker to make bread - you already have an oven and hands).

Nick has, in his time, made some gorgeous bread with his hands, although admittedly not this current oven.

People always go on about how bad it is to have a relationship with someone who is kneady, but see?

...wait, what homophone?

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But would you want to eat anything that he's had in his hands - do you know where those hands have been?

(case in point - had to stop him from dipping his mittens into a bucket of stagnant water and then sucking them yesterday)

There used to be a decent bakery on bittern triangle.

Shame about Shoebox, I didn't like their bread that much, but some of the other stuf was good and it was handy.

Oh, that's a shame.

It almost seems gloating to point out that the rather marvellous Blackbird Bakery in Herne Hill has become my stop of choice for baked goods, and that it is conveniently situated next to a traditional greengrocers (also sells jam, honey and free range eggs), a butcher selling inexpensive and free range meat, and an excellent fishmonger. All a pleasant 20 minute walk or five minute bus journey from my flat.

Oh well. *gloats*

Sorry to hear that.

We don't have a proper bakery nearby. Am very jealous of anyone who does.

If I want good bread I can get it from the (monthly) farmers market or with the (weekly) Abel and Cole veg box.

When I our little baby has got a bit older for I might get round to making bread in the breadmaker. (Which is currently in the garage cos the kitchen isn't big enough to have things that are not used regularly)

When we were in Bath, getting bread from the twice-monthly farmers market was fairly practical. In Southampton, we'd be going to the farmers market in Winchester (also twice monthly), which is a bit silly.

At present, we get through 3-4 loaves of bread a week, so that isn't really practical.

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Yeah, forgot that one.

we lost the coffee shop that did organic everything including bacon butties and sold sourdough loaves for £2 last year, so it might not be recession related?

our budgens now does absolutely lovely bread baked on the premises along with fresh meat and a whole stand of local goods.
one of the reasons it now sees about 25% of our food spend - that and walking to and from school

but the bakers in the village is naff- so god knows how that keeps going


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