Guy Warner: Sales of artisan bread are on the rise
PUBLISHED: 11:51 07 August 2018
Artisan bread is alive and well in the Cotswolds thanks to some extremely talented, forward-thinking bakers
Which side of the basket do you sit on when it comes to bread? Me, I’m very much in the remain camp but over the last few years we’ve definitely seen a growing number of breadxiteers.
In fact, only 42% of Brits now enjoy their daily bread – down from 52% two years ago, and that tends to be those of us of a certain age. For the younger generation that figure drops even further with less than a quarter of 16-24 year olds eating bread every day.
It saddens me to think that so many people are missing out on the simple pleasures of a freshly baked, ‘proper’ loaf. But, luckily for us, there are plenty of bakeries throughout the Cotswolds that are doing great things with bread, and thanks to them, sales of artisan loaves are once again on the rise (pun intended!).
We all have our favourite bakers, but in my opinion these three are the best things since before sliced bread...
Baker of the moment, Dominic Salter, is wowing the Cotswolds with his modern take on traditional baking. Queues for Salt Bakehouse goods at Stroud Farmers’ Market tail down the street; get there after 11am and you’ll be left with crumbs – if you’re lucky!
Dominic scooped baker of the Year 2016 at the Baking Industry Awards and his Stroud Wild won the Ciabatta category at the World Bread Awards 2017. At the same awards, his Tiptree Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Cruffins (a delectable mash-up of a croissant and a muffin) won Gold in the Showstopper category and his Stroud Francisco won silver in the Sourdough category.
While Dominic has a flair for inventing new flavours (kale and red Leicester loaf anyone?), Salt Bakehouse is very much a family affair, with mum Annette overseeing the operation of the business and sister Annaliese taking care of finances. “We bake from the heart and from scratch – we’re not swayed by time-saving processes and chemicals,” says Dominic. The talk of a true baker!
Thierry Paulin was one of the first local producers I worked with when I launched Warner’s Budgens back in Broadway in 2007. Working with Thierry and seeing his passion and commitment to the art of baking made me realise how detached most British consumers had become from real bread. Yes, sliced loaves have a use but they can’t replace the real thing. In Thierry’s native France, people think nothing of buying fresh bread every day, so I was keen to make fresh bread as accessible as possible in my stores.
Thierry makes a range of French and British loaves for Warner’s Budgens. The Campagne ‘country loaf’ is one of his most popular, a blend of white and rye flours, with a beautiful crust and deliciously light texture. But it is his Celtic sourdough that gets my vote. The sourdough culture he uses is the same one he brought with him over 20 years ago and it really does give a fantastic flavour and texture to each loaf.
Tel: 01684 292422
When Henry and Tom Herbert, aka The Fabulous Baker Brothers, first hit our TV screens with their ‘new’ approach to artisan bread, the nation was transfixed. However, Henry and Tom are actually the sixth generation of Herberts who have been making bread the traditional way since the 1920s, even when everyone around them was turning to the faster Chorleywood process. And this determination to create good quality loaves has paid off – Hobbs House Bakery is now one of the most recognised artisan bakers in the area, with six shops and cafés in the Cotswolds as well as appearances at several farmers’ markets.
The range of breads is impressive and includes a number of organic loaves, sourdough specialties made using a 63 year-old sourdough starter, and the award-winning gluten free loaf, GiFt, which is made in a dedicated gluten free bakery, so is suitable for coeliacs.
Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area - Bidford-upon-Avon, Moreton-in-Marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. Visit the website here.