The ten best artisan breads

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Old Post Office Bakery Organic Sunflower Loaf

Old Post Office Bakery Organic Sunflower Loaf

£1.49 for 400g

One for those who like hippie food, this is the staple loaf in our household. To call it hearty is something of an understatement, but after eating Post Office bread for a week or so most newcomers are hooked. It's baked in south London and, when I moved to north London, securing a regular supply was as important as finding a new coffee shop.

Stockists: 020-7326 4408

Vogels

£1.20 for 800g

Swiss Dr Vogel is one of the early nutritionists whose name has become synonymous with healthy eating. I would always buy Vogel's brand multigrain bread in preference to a supermarket sliced brown. The Sunflower and Barley variety is a delicious alternative to the original Swiss mix. In Australia there's a special version with soy isoflavones added too.

Available from good supermarkets and delis

Delba Pumpernickel

£1.09 for 500g

Some pumpernickels are so moist and densely sticky that you can't separate the slices without breaking them. Delba's pumpernickel has plenty of the rich, fruity flavour typical of this German style, but the slices separate fairly easily and come in a re-sealable plastic box to keep the dark bread as fresh as possible after opening.

Available from good supermarkets and delis

Sally Clarke's Rosemary, Raisin and Sea Salt

£1.50

Sally Clarke's esteemed range of breads is not self-consciously worthy or heavy with wholemeal. She does not even insist on natural leavens in all varieties. However, this wonderfully fragrant, slightly sweet loaf is far superior to mass-market fruited breads and teacakes. Great when you want something sweet and indulgent, but shouldn't, and it also makes a great partner for creamy cheeses.

& Clarke's, 122 Kensington Church Street, London W8 (020-7229 2190), and branches of Carluccio's

The Village Bakery Organic Borodinsky Rye Bread

£1.39 for 400g

This fragrant bread is based on a traditional Russian recipe that the esteemed baker Andrew Whitley, founder of the Village Bakery, picked up while studying in Russia. It contains no wheat or yeast - instead, rye flour, molasses, barley malt, sea salt and coriander. A good choice for thinly sliced ham, scrambled eggs, or as Andrew recommends - lightly toasted with good apricot jam.

Available from good supermarkets and delis

Poilâne

£3.53 per kilo

Poilâne's basic bread is just a traditional wheat loaf, yet very special. It is made from stone-ground flour, 30 per cent of which is spelt, and natural leaven or sourdough, which is rich in vitamins. The leaven also contributes to the bread's long keeping time so while it is more costly than breads from other manufacturers, it won't go stale before you've finished it. A great accompaniment to cheese, ham and jams - French, of course.

Poilâne Bakery, 46 Elizabeth Street, London SW1 (020-7808 4910), and good supermarkets and delis

Villandry

£2.25 for six-cereal loaf

When walking into Villandry's bakery section, it's hard to know where to begin. There are so many lovely breads (and tarts and cakes) made from organic flour - six cereal, rye, sourdough, even a buckwheat variety. The store has started supplying other fine-food retailers around London.

Villandry, 170 Great Portland St, London W1 (020-7631 3131)

Dr Karg Wholegrain Crisp Breads

£1.59 per 200g

Crispbreads have never tasted so good. Encrusted with a tasty mix of seeds (sunflower, sesame and linseed), these satisfying slices made of wholegrain wheat flour, oats and barley extract are so deliciously crunchy that they could almost be a substitute for crisps. The Classic flavour is great, but other varieties available include roasted onion, and emmental and pumpkin.

Available from good supermarkets and delis

Beremeal Bread

79p for 400g

Beremeal - a speciality barley flour unique to the Highlands - is one of the few truly regional foods left in Britain and if it wasn't for the dedication of Orkney's farmers, millers and bakers such as Argo's in Stromness it would be lost for ever. Beremeal is truly delicious and Argo's make breads, bannocks and crackers from it that are popular locally and with tourists.

Available from Argo's Bakery, 50 Victoria Street, Stromness, Orkney (01856 850245)

De Gustibus

From £1.65 for rye loaf

Choosing a favourite loaf from De Gustibus's range is impossible. They do great rye and multi-grain breads, as well as sourdough and natural-leaven loaves. They also produce to order Polenta, Millet and Sunflower bread, and a Savoury Potato bread that includes courgettes, buttermilk, cumin and a little gram flour.

De Gustibus, 53 Blandford Street, London W1 (020-7486 6608)

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