Behind the Scenes of Haddie and Trilby
*** Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to find the recipe for the Haddie and Trilby House Loaf that started it all***
If it’s not apparent already. I have a real passion for food. I love the process of being in the kitchen and creating something that will not only nourish your body but will be something that is also beautiful and appealing to all your senses. As much as I enjoy being on the development side of cooking, I just as much enjoy being on the receiving end… I find inspiration in what others create, flavor profiles I myself never thought to put together, ingredients I never heard of or thought to use, and the beautiful presentation which can be put on a plate. It’s a truly beautiful thing!
So, when I decided to begin blogging about local restaurants and establishments, I wanted to find places that were unique and special. Places that perhaps took an item we may eat or encounter every day and added their own twist and passion.
It did not take me long to discover Haddie and Trilby (H&T) of Leamington Spa. I walk by it every day as I am heading to teach or have errands in town. The first time I walked by I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful treats, cakes, and breads they have in the window. I was particularly hypnotized by what I can only describe as a whipped cloud fluff. I know now that these “fluffs” are actually hard meringues, and are common in the UK, but not so much in the US. I imagined that these large sugar fluffs came from the same place where unicorns, double rainbows, and fairies reside. MAGICAL.
When I approached George, the owner of Haddie and Trilby, he was more than happy to oblige me and my little blog. He invited me in on a Monday when they were closed to sit and chat with him about H&T. Upon my arrival George offered me a plethora of drink options, many of which were coffee based. I am not much of a coffee drinker so I asked for tea. He offered a Lemon Verbena herbal tea. It was just fresh lemon verbena leaves with hot water and it was delicious 😊As it turned out those little leaves were locally grown and bartered from a local customer for bread… but more on that later…
George- The Man, The Legend, The Baker
George is the owner and founder of Haddie and Trilby. You may be surprised to hear (just like I was) that he did not have a long career as a baker. He actually worked for many years as a Sound Engineer for the BBC Radio. George always had a passion for food but had no formal training. He would cook at home and try to recreate meals he and his wife had on their travels but it was mostly a hobby. His journey into baking really began when he and his family moved outside of Leamington in search of the “country life”. While living in the country, George and his wife found there was no place nearby to buy fresh-quality bread, so he started baking at home with a breadmaker he bought for 30 Pounds. His breadmaker eventually broke which led George to start making the bread by hand. In no time, he was making 5-10 loaves per week, most of which are the house bread loaves which can still be found at H&T today. (Recipe at bottom of page)
George’s passion for baking began to grow… he started taking courses to learn more and even worked in some local bakeries in the evening for free to hone in his techniques! Eventually, with more knowledge and practice under his belt he decided it was time to open his own place. That’s when the idea for Haddie and Trilby was born. He thought if he was so desperate for a loaf of real bread in town there must be others in search as well.
Like Elephants, Real Bread Cannot be Rushed...
So who are Haddie and Trilby and why name your bakery that? Well for many in the Leamington Spa area Haddie and Trilby are local legends. Back during the Victorian Era a Leamington Spa native man named Sam Lockhart began training elephants for the circus. He trained dozens of elephants but the most famous were the 3 Graces; Haddie, Trilby and Wilhelmina.
In his search for the perfect name, George thought he should create a name which would tie his bakery to Leamington without restricting location for potential future growth. Haddie and Trilby was a perfect fit for like elephants, real bread cannot be rushed. For those of you wondering why Wihelmina didn’t make the cut, don’t worry the oven is named Wilhelmina. So the 3 Graces remain intact.
Real Bread is Coming...
In 2014 George was getting ready to open Haddie and Trilby. The only marketing he used was to simply put a sign in the window which read, “Real Bread is Coming”. To his pleasant surprise, there was a line out the door opening day and it hasn’t slowed much sense in the 3 years it’s been open. I walk by most days and see people standing out the door waiting to get their hands on the beautiful and delicious food that is wonderfully displayed in H&Ts windows Tuesday thru Saturday. If you want to ensure you get the best of the best you better come early! Haddie and Trilby opens at 7AM and closes when everything is sold out. Most things are set by 9:00 AM.
Waste Not Want Not.
As if I needed another reason to love H&T any more… did you know that many of the ingredients used in the amazing baked goods are from local residents that bartered for free bread? That means, if you have an apple tree that produces more apples than you can consume… bring them into H&T and George may swap them out for some free bread! ! I LOVE THAT! Oh BTW – that lemon verbena tea I mentioned I was drinking earlier… someone had bartered that for free bread too. Incredible!
Seasons are the biggest inspiration for what is created in the kitchen. George wants to cook with the fresh, local ingredients that are in season. This helps ensure the quality of ingredients and creates a variety we all long for as the seasons change.
Another way George is reducing food waste is by donating any leftovers to local food shelters. This may seem like a no brainer, but UK restaurants throw out over 600,000 tons of food a year. Most of which could have been used by local food kitchens. Starbucks is an example of a large company that is trying to reduce this number. They have begun distributing their soon to expire food to local shelters in several major cities. Their goal is to launch worldwide by 2021.
Imagine the impact if every restaurant took this approach??
Baking With Love
When I asked George where the inspiration for his creations came from he said it was a variety of places. The season has a large role as that dictates what ingredients may be available, but inspiration can come from travels, reading things online, and also whatever the staff may be excited to try. The last was what intrigued me the most. Although George only employs two individuals with actual culinary training, all the staff have an opportunity to experiment and bake. George of course wants to ensure that H&T is an efficient workplace but it is also critical that he and his staff have time to create and experiment.
When I spent my morning behind the scenes I got to see how this works. One of the staff had made up a new cake batter and was tasked with deciding what to do with the cake. All the staff had a taste and gave ideas and feedback. This of course was all happening in the mad chaos of trying to get that day’s goodies out. It was like a sprint think tank.
To Infinity and Beyond!
So, the bakery thing is panning out pretty well, but what is next for H&T? Well George has a few ideas up his sleeve… classes being the main one. George is hoping to offer classes to those who want to learn more about making delicious things (Breads, cakes, pizzas). It’s just a matter of finding the time to plan it all out. George disclosed to me that sometimes he needs a little harassing to get things done, so if you would be interested in these classes feel free to bother him about it when you are in picking up your bread 😊 I say that selfishly as I would like to learn how to make a delicious bread 😊
The Most Important Thing..
Let’s be real, what you are most interested in is what you should try right? I would agree…. But truthfully, even though you could be very happy walking out with one of everything, your tummy and your waistline may be mad at you later…
Here are the things I would recommend trying first:
Rye- I buy a loaf every week. It’s so dense and moist. Perfect lightly toasted with my peanut butter.
House- Classic but delicious. Perfect for a basic sandwich or as garlic bread with pasta.
Salted Caramel Flap Jack- rich and decadent and who doesn’t love salted caramel anything??
Fruit Tart- My husband got this for me on my birthday in leu of a cake and it DID NOT disappoint!
Sandwich special- every day H&T has 2 or 3 sandwich’s ready to serve up… made with their delicious bread usually a specialty cheese and some other seasonal goodies.
Focaccia- This makes a great lunch or savory breakfast. The egg veggie focaccia is delicious! Light and fluffy.
Ok, full disclosure- I have yet to make it to pizza night on Thursdays. Sadly, I teach a class until about 9 so have not been able to make it. But I have heard nothing but amazing things and there is a line out the door as per usual. So, get there early or be ready to do take away as seating is limited.
The House Loaf
300g Organic Strong White Flour
50g Maize Flour
50g Light Rye Flour
70g Malted Wheat Flakes
10g Fine Sea salt
2g Dried Yeast (Or 150g Wheat Sourdough Starter)
1. Put everything in a bowl and mix together with ONE hand
until it looks like a sticky mess and the flour is all
2. Put a tea towel over the top and leave in the fridge or
somewhere cool for 8-12 hours.
3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled worktop & fold it
and stretch it for 30 seconds, then place into a new clean
lightly oiled bowl. Cover with tea towel and leave it out
in the warm kitchen.
4. Repeat step 3 after 20 minutes another 2 times.
5. After the third time it should look very different to
yesterday! If not repeat step 3 again!
6. Place the dough into a suitable lightly oiled tin and leave
covered with a tea towel in warm kitchen until it has risen
a lot and looks like it wants to be baked! About 1 hour
7. Bake in the hottest oven for 15 minutes then have a look
and turn the temperature down to about 180-200c and bake
for another 10-20 until it sounds hollow when tapped.
8. Eat when cooled if you can wait!
Haddie and Trilby Info:
Haddie and Trilby is located at 10 Regent St, Leamington Spa CV32 5HQ
Hours- Tuesday- Saturday 7AM until they run out