It was the gingerbread pigs with chocolate feet that did it. Being brought up on Charlotte’s Webb, I developed a childhood fondness for pigs. And gingerbread is one of my favourite sweet bites. When house hunting in Milton Keynes , I came across Stony Stratford. How could I resist a town with a bakery that offered such a wonderful combination of two favourites? Well, that was many years ago and the original bakery, Hazeldine’s, and its chocolate footed pigs have long gone. Fortunately, one oven door shuts and another opens.
One of Stony Stratford’s charms is the number of independent shops. For local produce and superior quality, they’re often unbeatable and it’s always a pleasure to be able to tell Butterfly Loft guests about places we have tried and products we can wholeheartedly recommend.
Around eight years ago another independent bakery opened on the High Street, taking over the bread baton from Hazeldine’s and continuing the tradition of fresh bread baked on the premises. Since then, Woodstocks Artisan Bakery has been keeping us supplied with delicious fresh bread and cakes. Regular readers will know of Woodstocks already as I mention them in my Butterfly Recipes as an excellent local shop.
Like most good bakeries, it does a lively trade first thing in the morning. You will often see a queue outside the shop at about 8am, (I know we’ve had to get used to standing in socially distanced queues, but this was the case even pre-pandemic) for bread, scones and their famous sausage rolls, all of which are baked on site.
I had a chat with manager, Jane Gudgeon, who told me a bit more about the Woodstocks operation.
Two bakers, one working days, one working nights, bake bread for around 22 hours a day, so there’s always a supply of fresh bread. Using flour from Heygates (the most local mill based up the road near Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire) the bakers make an impressive range of breads. These include the popular sourdough and multi seed loaves and speciality breads like foccacia (olive, onion tomato and rosemary flavours).
In addition to the two bakers, a full-time cake maker, works alongside them creating a selection of sweet and fruity cakes. (Our favourite is carrot cake. My husband can’t resist it!)
Getting it all into bags and out of the door are the four counter staff, plus the three back of house team members.
90% of the products are baked on the premises. The remaining 10% are carefully sourced from local producers, for example, the jam doughnuts are from Whittlebury Bakery in Buckingham. Jane said it took ages to find a really good doughnut, but these are absolutely right, with a good texture and the right jam.
During the pandemic Woodstocks stayed open. With support from the local community the bakery team adapted so it could keep going. One of the changes was to create a volunteer base from staff and local people to deliver products to those who were vulnerable or shielding.
Jane says their recipe for success is having friendly and helpful staff. For example, they give free yeast and advice to people wanting to have a go at home bread baking. During the pandemic lots of people started baking bread and cakes at home. For many trying this for the first time, early efforts went a bit wrong and sometimes the baking equipment is a bit challenging. One customer regular messaged baker Gloria for advice and gave her a running commentary on his home baking efforts. As he lives on a boat his oven is a bit temperamental. Gloria looked at loads of recipes and suggested different tips and techniques before he could get a decent loaf out of it. It took a while, but they got there!
Try out Woodstocks. You’ll find it at: 6 High Street, Stony Stratford MK11 1AF. Phone 01908 561685 and FB @woodstocksartisanbakerystony
Stony Stratford is a wonderful place to escape to for staycation or work! If you’re thinking of staying in Milton Keynes and you want somewhere characterful, historically fascinating and tranquil with some irresistible bread and great cakes, do get in touch.