Once upon a time the only decisions you had to make about bread were "brown or white", "sliced or unsliced".

Now there are so many different breads around that the restaurant at The Landmark Hotel in London has recently decided to ditch bread baskets and has introduced a special bread trolley just so it can get its large selection of loaves to the table. In the past six years Sainsbury's says that it has seen a 117 per cent increase in the sales of continental and speciality breads.

Think of an ingredient and the chances are that you'll soon be able to buy a loaf of bread with it in, certainly if baker Stephen Laidlow from Northumberland has his way.

Stephen's company Nicholls and Laidlow is currently developing a range of speciality breads and he's prepared to try anything.

"The other day I noticed that brie and black grape sandwiches are very popular so I though why not put the filling inside the bread already?"

Stephen has also been scouring cookery books for ideas, especially the soup section.

"If it works in a soup it's likely that it will work in a bread," he says.

So far, loaves, other than brie and grape, that have got the thumbs-up include broccoli, cheese and roasted almond bread and spicy tomato bread with chillis.


l Most supermarkets now do a variety of speciality breads. Asda has just launched a new range which includes a Scandinavian Star Loaf with sunflower, sesame and linseed oil, and Orange Craquelline with orange and lemon juice.

l Nicholls & Laidlow has shops in Hexham, Corbridge and Eldon Square shopping centre (01434 600111 for details).


l Allied Bakeries has recently launched a "ladies loaf" called Burgen Bread containing plant oestrogens which it says can reduce menopause symptoms.

l If you're fed up with mouldy bread, Tesco has just launched a "Stay Fresh" loaf which it claims stays fresh for seven days.