Baker’s Dozen with Irina

We asked Irina, our Senior Baker in Temple Fortune, our Baker’s Dozen of questions to find out about life in our kitchen in NW11.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
I usually get up at 4am on work days, 7am if I’ve got the day off.

2. How do you take your coffee?
I like to drink my coffee while reading the news in the morning. I have it black, with no sugar.

3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
For breakfast, my favourites are porridge or yoghurt.

4. How long have you been working for GAIL’s?
I’ve worked at GAIL’s for eight years now, starting as Baker and working my way up to Senior Baker in Temple Fortune. Everything that I have accomplished here is because I love my job, to which I fully dedicate myself. I like to think I cook tasty food and I try to make all of our customers happy, so that they’ll come back again tomorrow.

5. What’s the first food you remember loving as a child?
As a child, I loved when my mother made me pancakes with jam, yoghurt and honey. I still love pancakes – they make me reminisce about my childhood.

6. Have you ever baked bread?
I don’t bake bread but I love baking cakes and cookies.

7. What does the smell of freshly baked bread remind you of?
It reminds me of my home country, Lithuania – we’re known for our bread and pastry. On almost every corner, there’s a bakery selling freshly baked bread, buns and bagels.

8. What do you spread on your toast?
Butter. I love toasted rye bread with butter.

9. What is the best part of your day?
A cozy evening after everything is done, so I can relax with a good book.

10. What’s in your ultimate sandwich?
Buttered rye bread with ham, cheese and tomato.

11. If we could give you a lifetime supply of anything from GAIL’s, what would that be? Why is this item your favourite?
I love our Feta & Pepper Brioche and the Spinach Rolls. Both are so delicious, especially when they’ve just come out of the oven.

12. Our bread is made with three primary ingredients. Four if you include time. What are the main ingredients in your life and work, concrete or abstract?
In life, love, patience and care are essential.

13. What would you do for a living, if not this?
If I wasn’t working at GAIL‘s, I’d probably be working in another kitchen as I love to make people happy by cooking delicious food.

How to Make the Perfect Seasonal Salad

We start by thinking about the time of year; which vegetables, legumes and leaves are in season? It’s autumn now, meaning pumpkin, squash and mushrooms are in season and as the weather gets colder, root vegetables and brassicas will be in their prime.

Once we’ve chosen the seasonal ingredients, we think about how we want the salad to taste: fresh and zingy or warming and robust? For winter, we focus on roasting or sautéing vegetables to concentrate their flavour, whereas in summer, serving vegetables steamed or raw showcases freshness. To create a comforting dish for cooler climes, we choose warming spices like cumin and paprika, along with woody herbs like rosemary and thyme to complement the seasonal vegetables. For brighter spring and summer salads, we turn to soft herbs like basil, coriander and mint.

With the key seasonal vegetables and flavours in mind, it’s time to build the salad from base to dressing. We chose a grain or legume for sustenance that will complement the seasonal vegetables – our winter favourites are black barley and lentils.

For contrasting textures and flavours, we like to pair cooked elements like roasted vegetables, lentils and grains with something raw, like thinly sliced raw vegetables and leaves. Adding chopped nuts and seeds brings extra crunch to every mouthful.

When it comes to protein, our favourites are soft cheeses like feta or goat’s cheese which pair well with autumnal flavours like pumpkin and mushroom. Roasted chicken and hot smoked salmon also work well in winter salads and add depth of flavour.

When making the dressing, we think about whether the salad is bitter, sweet or salty, then use contrasting flavours for the dressing. Choose a base for the dressing like buttermilk, yoghurt, or oil, then add acidity with lemon, vinegar, or pomegranate molasses which bring sweetness too.  We love using tahini in our salads as it’s great for binding the dressing and offers a nutty, rich flavour.

Grains can be dressed as soon as they’re cooked, to ensure they absorb the flavour of the dressing, but never dress leaves ahead of eating as the leaves will lose their crunch.

 

Waste Bread

We spend a lot of time thinking about reducing waste and trying to be as sustainable as we can, so we’re proud to introduce our Waste Bread, a sourdough made from day-old loaves.

Our baker, Roz, has been working on the Waste Bread since January, tirelessly tweaking the recipe to get it just right. To make the Waste Bread, we take yesterday’s unsold loaves and turn them into breadcrumbs, before making a porridge-like mixture with them. The breadcrumb porridge is then added to a fresh white sourdough dough, with the waste bread making up around a third of each new loaf. It’s then proved, shaped and baked, and at 750g, it’s larger than our other loaves.

The result is a moist, tacky loaf with a scorched crust and malty flavour, and as the variety of surplus loaves changes daily, each batch will taste slightly different. We like the Waste Bread best thickly sliced and spread with lashings of whey butter, but it’s a very versatile loaf and is ideal for making sandwiches or dipped into soup.

Find the Waste Bread in selected bakeries from the 11th October.

 

 

Halloween Baking Classes

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be running spooky baking classes for children in selected bakeries. Find out class dates and which bakeries are hosting classes below.

If you’d like your little ones to join us, please visit or call one of our bakeries below and let the team know. Please note all classes start at 4pm.

Monday 22nd October
Farnham

Tuesday 23rd October
Summertown
Camden
Barnes
West Hampstead

Wednesday 24th October
Temple Fortune
Blackheath
Hove
Richmond

Thursday 25th October
Swain’s Lane
Crouch End
Pimlico

Baker’s Dozen with Valerica

We asked Valerica, who’s been with GAIL’s for twelve of our thirteen years, our Baker’s Dozen of questions to find out about her time at GAIL’s and her enduring love of Cinnamon Buns.

1. What time did you get up this morning? What’s your morning routine?
I wake up at 3.30am to get to work and and start baking at 5am.

2. How do you take your coffee?
I only drink espresso.

3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
I wait until I’ve baked the first batch of Cinnamon Buns in the morning, then have a warm bun and an espresso for breakfast. I eat a lot of Cinnamon Buns!

4. How long have you been working for GAIL’s?
I started working for GAIL’s in October 2006 in the Hampstead bakery as a kitchen porter. After a few months, the baker asked me to join them in the kitchen and I loved it. When we opened the second bakery in Notting Hill six months later, I moved there to work as a baker. I went back to work in Hampstead for a few years and have been working as the Head Baker in Seymour Place for four years now.

5. What’s the first food you remember loving as a child?
My mother always baked apple pie in a wood oven outside. It reminds me of running around barefoot as a child.

6. Have you ever baked bread?
Of course!

7. What does the smell of freshly baked bread remind you of?
It reminds me of my childhood, when my mother would bake bread, then share it between my brothers and sisters.

8. What do you spread on your toast?
Butter and strawberry jam.

9. What is the best part of your day?
I’m happiest in the morning, when everything’s quiet and it smells like baking pasty.

10. What’s in your ultimate sandwich?
Avocado and tomato on Russian Rye Sourdough. 

11. If we could give you a lifetime supply of anything from GAIL’s, what would that be?
I would choose the cookbook, then I can have everything! Or the Cinnamon Buns…

12. Our bread is made with three primary ingredients. Four if you include time. What are the main ingredients in your life and work, concrete or abstract?
Hard work, positivity and working together.

13. What would you do for a living, if not this?
I’d love to be a judge, in charge and making the decisions.

Baker’s Dozen with Adriana

We caught up with our Coffee Trainer, Adriana, to find out about her career with GAIL’s, growing up in Italy and how she takes her coffee.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
I woke up at 6am. I always get up a little earlier than I have to because I like to leave enough time for breakfast without rushing.

2. How do you take your coffee?
I mostly drink espresso and filter coffee but I have to try all of our coffees and hot drinks when I’m training baristas and doing quality checks.

3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
When I’m in the UK, I have coffee and coconut yogurt with granola. I could write a book about what I eat for breakfast back in Italy (you know moms, they like to feed you when you come home!).

4. How long have you been working for GAIL’s?
I joined GAIL’s in December 2015 as a barista in South Kensington. I progressed to Head Barista, which meant training and supporting the new baristas in the bakery, then in March this year I was promoted again to become a Coffee Trainer in our Coffee Team. During my time at GAIL’s, I’ve really enjoyed the training as it’s great to learn new things.

5. What’s the first food you remember loving as a child?
My mom’s aubergine meatballs and my sister’s custard and strawberry cake.

6. Have you ever baked bread? How did it go?
Of course! I learned when I was a child and still bake with my sisters and friends. But most of the time we bake pizza.

7. What does the smell of freshly baked bread remind you of?
Family. Growing up, I remember watching my grandma and my aunts baking. My family have a wood fired oven in the backyard to bake bread and pizza. Just thinking about it makes me feel nostalgic and hungry at the same time!

8. What do you spread on your toast?
Nutella (I’m Italian!) but I also love peanut butter and homemade jam.

9. What is the best part of your day?
I love the quiet of late nights.

10. What’s in your ultimate sandwich?
That’s easy – Mixed Olive Sourdough with mortadella.

11. If we could give you a lifetime supply of anything from GAIL’s, what would that be?
The Mini Salmon & Avocado Yoghurt on a Poppyseed Roll. It’s been my lunch almost every day since I started.

12. Our bread is made with three primary ingredients. Four if you include time. What are the main ingredients in your life and work, concrete or abstract?
Loyalty, humility and constant learning; both in work and in life.

13. What would you do for a living, if not this?
I grew up on a farm and I’ve always loved animals, so probably something to do with animals.

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