If the kitchen is your happy space and your shelves are groaning under the weight of flour, sugar and butter waiting to be transformed into wholesome loaves of bread or tempting cakes then you’re in the right place!

I’m Rebecca Bishop – AKA The Next Loaf – the founder of Two Magpies Bakery and recently published author of the baking book ‘Two Magpies Bakery’  founder Rebecca Bishop (AKA “The Next Loaf”). Each month my new baking column will feature baking tips and trends, recipes plus recommendations for books, ingredients and equipment to help you bake more beautifully.

In recent years I’ve focused on sharing baking skills and recipes through my writing and in-person baking classes, currently held at Two Magpies bakery, Darsham. My new business venture, ‘The Next Loaf’ will soon be running baking classes online and from various venues around East Anglia – including small classes in my own home. Class content will range from sourdough and yeasted breads, viennoiserie, pizza and delicious wholesome cakes and bakes. More details and dates to follow in subsequent months. To get the latest information sign up for my newsletter www.thenextloaf.co.uk or follow me on Instagram @thenextloaf

This month I’m mainly using…

Fresh herbs and edible flowers. Try adding lavender to shortbread, decorating cakes with rose petals, nasturtium or marigolds, making a mint or thyme syrup for brushing over the cut sides of cakes (a great trick for keeping your cakes moist) or grinding bay leaves with sugar to create a bright green sprinkle for cakes and puddings.

What I’m reading

I read cookbooks cover to cover, much like a novel, visualising myself working through the processes. Is that weird?! Whether it’s a well-thumbed classic or a shiny new edition from a baking hero (more on that next month) understanding the story of each recipe excites me and creates pictures in my head. In April this year my book Two Magpies Bakery, stories and recipes from East Anglia was published 10 years after the first shop opened in Southwold. Like a magpie, I’ve been collecting recipes, stories and ideas for years and it’s been such a pleasure to finally share them. Many of Two Magpies signature bakes, described by Emma Freud as ‘the greatest thing to happen to Suffolk this decade’ feature in the book including sourdough bread, cakes, pizza and brunch recipes and signed copies are available to buy from my website.

Did you know…

That only heat kills a sourdough yeast culture (above 60°C). Many people think they’ve ‘killed’ their sourdough culture if they forget to feed it or leave it at the back of their fridge for month’s – or even years! Even if your little pot of floury goo smells awful, looks mouldy or has liquid swimming on the surface all is not lost. Give it a stir then discard most of it, leaving about 10g. Feed with 50g of wholemeal or rye flour and 50g of water. Repeat this action over a few days until your yeasty workhorse is bubbly, full of life and ready to raise some dough again.

Baking know-how

My baking tip this month is use the right size tin! We’ve all been there, rummaging in the back of a cupboard before declaring ‘this’ll do’. The result is usually a bake that is too thin (and possibly overbaked) or one that is spilling over the sides and making a mess in your oven. If you can, buy the right tin or borrow one from a neighbour or friend the first time you follow a recipe. You’re welcome.

All the gear

Yeast is very temperature sensitive whilst it’s fermenting your dough (its happiest around 25°C) so using a digital instant read thermometer really helps you monitor the condition of your dough – your thermometer will also help you know when your loaf is baked.

This month I’ve teamed up The Woodbridge Kitchen Company


Whose wonderful online shop sells everything from dough scrapers to proving baskets – all you need for your next loaf! They’re offering a 15% discount to Places&Faces readers until the 25 July readers, scan the QR code to claim yours

Waterloo Farm classes

In August I’m really excited to be offering a couple of sourdough bread baking courses to raise important funds in support of a new local environmental charity, Natural Habitat. They’ll be taking place at beautiful Waterloo Farm, just outside Halesworth, and will cover the fundamentals of sourdough baking – including wood fired sourdough pizza for lunch!  Go to my website to find out more and to make a booking.

Upcoming events this summer:

7 July
Book signing at Halesworth bookshop, 4pm

14 July
Book signing at Woodbridge book shop, 4pm

21 July
Baking demonstration and book signing at Latitude festival, Henham park

2 Sept
Baking demonstration and book signing at Holkham food festival

Follow me

For recipe reels, baking inspiration and all the latest baking class dates and news sign up for my newsletter

www.thenextloaf.co.uk or follow me

Instagram – @thenextloaf   Facebook – thenextloaf

Pain de Compagne

Loaf weight: 700g

Prep time: 5 minutes for pre-ferment.
45 minutes active time.
4-5 hours proving time.
Bake 35 minutes



• 20g strong white bread flour

• 40g dark rye flour

• Pinch of active dried yeast

• Pinch of fine salt

• 45g cold water

Bake day

• 320g strong white bread flour

• 40g dark rye flour

• ½ tsp active dried yeast

• 230g warm water

• 5g fine salt


A pre-ferment is a mini version of your main dough, quickly mixed the night before. This added fermentation time boosts the flavour of your dough, giving a delicious tangy taste to your loaf. Freshly milled Rye flour from Maple farm in Kelsale is perfect for this bread. The night before, mix together the pre-ferment ingredients, cover and leave ambient.

The next day weigh the flours into a bowl. In a separate bowl stir the water into the pre-ferment and add the yeast, stir to dissolve then combine with the flour until completely mixed. Cover the dough and leave for 30 minutes.

After resting the dough add the salt then knead for 5 minutes to obtain moderate gluten development – you can check the strength of the dough by performing a ‘window pane’ test where you gently tease the dough apart to create a thin membrane. Place the dough in a covered bowl for 2 hours, stretching and folding it after 30 minutes and again on the hour (2 folds total) then leave it to rise for the remaining hour. Keep your dough in a warm place, around 25°C.

When your dough is slightly expanded in size it’s ready for shaping. Pre-shape the dough into a round (boule) and let it rest, covered, for 20 minutes then complete the final shaping as desired. Place the dough into a floured dough basket and prove for 1-2 hours more until it’s jiggly when you gently shake the basket. Pre-heat your oven to 240°C/220°C fan, placing a heavy casserole pan with a lid inside. This is known as a Dutch oven and will make sure your loaf expands fully and forms a good crust. When your oven is ready turn your dough out of the basket (so the bottom is now the top) onto some baking parchment and score the surface of your loaf with a sharp knife or lame. Carefully lift into the Dutch oven, placing the lid on, and bake for 25 minutes before removing the lid for the last 10-15 minutes of the bake. Your loaf is ready when the internal temperature of your loaf is 97°C.