Food & drink

The Baker's Tale

When you think of traditional British comfort food, everyone has their feel-good favourites.
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When you think of traditional British comfort food, everyone has their feel-good favourites. Maybe yours is bangers and mash, thick soup, or a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Or perhaps your sweet tooth means that a steaming bowl of bread and butter pudding with custard puts a smile on your face. But why?

Studies have shown that, yes, the pleasurable taste and texture of comfort food does boost your mood... but not just because it conjures up carefree childhood memories. It also sends signals from the gut to the brain, which influences how we feel. So there you go. It’s physical as well as psychological.

The Best Western Kinloch Hotel on the wild, beautiful Isle of Arran has its own nineteenth century bakery. Complete with a huge Victorian oven that’s over 100 years old. Follow your nose around the hotel and you’ll find it. The current Head Baker George Grassie joins the team after teaching his skills and techniques in Norway and takes over from Phil Judge who was the Head Baker for 40 years.

George, like Phil rises early and cycles into work each morning at 4am to create the breads, pies, pastries and cakes that keep both the hotel guests and the entire village satisfied throughout the day.

Check out the video below and see Phil in action and everything this hidden gem of a bakery has to offer. 

Our Baker's Bio

George Grassie is the new head baker in the bakery located next to the Kinloch hotel. Originally raised on Arran in Shiskine, it has been 20 years since he lived here, and he has spent much of the intervening time travelling the world with various jobs including teaching, kitchen work, and photojournalism.

In the last three years, before settling with his family on Arran, George was running a small bakery, Lund Brød, in remote rural Norway. There, the availability of special wheat’s and rare species of ryes and durum wheat’s leads the way in European baking for experimentation with new techniques and flavours. 

Running this small business meant being involved in every part of sourcing the farms where the wheat’s were grown, having the miller try new types of grinding, dealing with extreme temperatures during fermentation, right down to delivering the bread by hand to the customers.

Thanks to some great press and enthusiastic partner businesses, Lund Brød, became a brand people understood to be making a truly local product, with all stages of production visible to the customers.

A valuable part of George's work in Norway was teaching techniques to both amateur and professional bakers in an effort to share and promote artisan baking in all its forms.

George intends to bring these experiences into the bakery in Blackwaterfoot. The emphasis of his new project will be on sourdough loaves made with organic flours, introducing the flavours of heirloom and ancient grains into a modern yet classic style of baking. Using slow fermentation and artisan techniques to produce beautiful loaves with a greater digestibility, full flavours and superior textures.

Keep your eyes peeled for announcements for his hands-on classes, where you will be able to learn how to make your own artisan breads!

Hot Cross Buns

To celebrate George’s arrival to the Best Western family he has given us a special Easter Hot Cross Bun recipe (which he has assured us won’t be beaten) for you to get stuck into – enjoy...

Ingredients: (dough)

  • 500g Strong white flour
  • 250g warm milk
  • 100g butter (diced, room temp)
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 10g salt
  • 1 sachet instant dried yeast.

Mix milk and eggs, then add remaining ingredients, either in a mixer with a dough hook or in a bowl by hand. Knead or mix dough until elastic, or leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly. Then add the following, mixing in gently until incorporated:

  • 1 level tsp of mixed spice
  • 150g sultanas/ raisins (or combination)
  • 50g mixed peel (optional)

Leave dough covered in bowl to rise until almost doubled in size (1-2 hrs), then take out and divide into tangerine-sized balls. Roll them tightly and place on a greaseproof paper lined baking sheet, close enough that they will 'kiss' when proved. Brush with a little milk. Cover and leave to rise (40mins-1 hr).

Meanwhile, make the cross paste like this:

  • 100g flour
  • 1tbsp oil
  • Pinch of salt

Mix together and then add around 4 tbsp water until you have a piping consistency. Put in plastic sandwich bag with one corner snipped off to make a piping bag until buns are ready.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. When buns have doubled in size, brush again with milk, pipe a cross onto each one, and bake for 17-20 minutes. During this time, boil 100g sugar with 60g water for a few minutes and add a dash of rum or brandy at the end.

Cool buns on a wire rack and then brush on some of the syrupy booze glaze. Now for the best bit get tucked in and enjoy...

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