Orford is a pretty town on the river Alde with an antiques shop, a smokehouse and a craft shop selling local woven baskets and pottery. Orford Castle, an octagonal keep from the 12th century, stands guard over the town. Across the water and salt marsh lies Orford Ness Nature Reserve, a place of stark beauty and contrasts. The shingle spit is both a rare and fragile wildlife habitat of international importance and a strange, eerie wilderness filled with relics of Cold-War military testing and a disused lighthouse.
Orford is also home to Pump Street Bakery. We first came into contact with Joanna from Pump Street Bakery a few years ago when she became a wholesale customer. Then last year at the Aldeburgh Food Festival, Chantal visited Orford and fell in love with the superb bakery and its 14 different varieties of sourdough bread.
Pump Street Bakery is a family owned business, with Joanna looking after the shop and cafe and her dad, Chris, managing the bakery team. Now they’ve put their obsessive care and attention into chocolate, making small batches of single-origin bars from the bean in their bakery between loaves of bread.
The beans come from just three sources including small family-run cocoa farms in Venezuela, Madagascar and Ecuador. They carefully control the entire process, roasting each type of bean to the perfect depth before conching for up to three days and allowing the chocolate to mature for a month. Their chocolate selection is small, with one carefully-made bar from each source plus an unusually dark, rich 60% milk chocolate.
“They roast cocoa beans in the bread oven,’ says Chantal. “I don’t know if that affects the taste but the Madagascan chocolate almost has a hint of brioche. It’s nutty and buttery, really delicious.”
Pump Street also run classes and tours, and have a 1981 Citroën bread van called Cédric who brings bread and pastries to nearby towns. If we didn’t have our little Piaggio Ape chocolate box van we might be jealous…
Images: Pump Street Bakery