Last week my friend William from invited me along with him to a bakery near Shaftsbury. The purpose of the trip for William was to try out different types of wood for a wood fired oven,and I tagged along as I got to meet master baker Paul Merry from

Paul is an Austalian who has been baking in the UK for many years and is now based in Cann Mills just a few miles south of Shaftsbury . The mill is very much a working mill and produces a variety of flours which Paul uses to create a fantastic variety of bread in his small bakery across the courtyard and mere yards from where the flour is milled. No problem with food miles there.

Chatting to Paul throughout the day whilst he produced an array of beautiful looking loaves, it was soon clear that he is very passionate about breadmaking and somewhat disdainful of the factory mass produced pap that is passed off as bread in our supermarkets nowadays. The loaves he produced were a world away from that and it was a pleasure and a privelege to see him creating the most wonderful produce which are sold only in a few select outlets in the Shaftsbury area.

Paul soon got Will and I working with some of the left over bits of dough and we made our own pizzas and focaccia which were then baked in the wood fired oven and greedily consumed for our lunch.


Wills tomato, pepper and anchovy Foccacia in production

... and 10 minutes later, out of the wood fired oven and ready for eating










The skill  in using a wood fired oven is knowing what to bake and when, getting the timing right so that as the oven loses its heat through the working day,the temperature is correct for the type of bread you are baking.The Sourdough was the last batch to be slid into the oven, Paul actually entrusted this task to William and I and I am pleased to say that we managed to do it right. Or if we did not, Paul was too polite to say so.

Sourdough before....


The timer was set and as we cleared down the loaves baked through in the remaining heat,Paul nurturing the bread through the cooking process, leaving the oven doors slightly ajar as he adjudged the oven to be a little too hot to have them closed. His expertise and feel for cooking in a wood fired oven produced stunning results and a mere twenty minutes later the sourdough was done.It was quite simply superb.

....and after.

Paul runs breadmaking courses from Cann Mill .

Details are on his website



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