Over the years Virtuous Bread and the Bread Angels have been baking bread with prisoners. It all started about four years ago in The Clink restaurant in a prison in Highdown prison in Sutton, Surrey. We are still active there and Bread Angel Gaye Whitwam has taken over from me to teach sourdough baking to the men in the same haphazard way that I followed when I was there. It was such fun, very rewarding, and has seen the prison system premiere of sourdough Italian bread of all kinds, stollen, and hot cross buns. Sourdough bread is on the menu daily and we are very proud of that.
The Clink also has branches in Brixton prison, Cardiff prison, and Styal (Manchester) women’s prison. Cardiff and Styal are category C (day release) prisons which makes the whole business of baking a little easier because the kitchens are allowed to use yeast. Recently, The Clink in Cardiff has won a series of awards and is considered to be among the very best restaurants in Cardiff. It was a delight to teach there in September. As ever the staff and the men are charming and attentive and delighted for the new learning experience. We baked pizza, focaccia, ciabatta as well as brioche! An exhausting morning kneading.
Bread Angel Iain Every has been teaching up at Styal where the restaurant is in a lovely former children’s home and church complex. They have been baking fantastic bread there too.
If you have not been to The Clink and you live in London, Manchester or Cardiff you really should go! You need to book ahead in the London locations because they are both inside the prisons, but Manchester and Cardiff are outside the walls so you can just pitch up and expect a wonderful meal. If, that is, you can get a table!