Not that he’s really considered the arbiter of taste or a bastion of good judgement, but George ’Dubya’ Bush is said to favour the Lainston House Hotel when he’s in the UK. The high quality of the breads and patisserie may have played a passing appeal, but it was more likely to be the draw of the lawn croquet. One can only speculate whether the US president balked at being served French pain de campagne, or insisted on a ’freedom loaf’- aping the ’freedom fries’ that replaced ’French fries’ in parts of America following France’s opposition to the war in Iraq.If he did, then he would have been missing out. While most hotels buy in their bakery products, Lainston’s scratch-made goods were deemed so good, that the hotel started selling them at farmers’ markets. Indeed, they regularly sell out, with over-zealous customers scrabbling in the back of the van for any remaining hot cross buns or Lardy Cake.One of the few UK hotels to employ a dedicated baker, Lainston also boasts the double whammy of having the UK Callebaut Chocolate Champion, Mark Tilling, on its pay-roll. I meet the latter the day after his three-minute appearance on celebrity chef James Martin’s desserts series, Sweet Baby James. “And that was from over four hours of filming!” laughs the head pastry chef.With chocolate masterclasses advertised at £200 a pop, the hotel seems to be doing rather well from his new-found chocolate master status. Tilling won the accolade having made a metre-high King Arthur and Merlin chocolate sculpture, as part of a ’national myths and legends’ theme. “I did it in a modern art, contemporary style,” he says.It has helped raise the profile of the bakery at the hotel, with local papers and radio picking up on the success story. “The hotel has given me time to work on the competition but they’ve done well out of it too. Going to the world finals, everybody gets to know who you are and where you’re from.”HOTEL BAKERS: A RARE BREEDMeanwhile, attracting less of the glare but equally valued, is head baker Adrian Chant. Specialist bakers in hotels are a rare breed, he says. “Bakery in hotels is coming back, to some extent. But we’re not that common, to be honest.”Hotels tend to buy in a Délice de France-type product. But [executive chef] Andy MacKenzie doesn’t believe in that – he believes people can tell if it’s not homemade.”Lainston’s bakery produces pastries and rolls for breakfast, bread for sandwiches served in the bar and drawing room, four varieties of bread for dinner and lunch, using herbs from the herb garden, teacakes and scones for tea, plus rolls and other breads for functions. “And of course we make bread to feed the staff,” adds Chant.The operation started out small-scale, with just a basic oven, but now houses a Tom Chandley oven, a Mono prover and a Bear mixer. It bakes for three farmers’ markets a month, taking around £1,000 a go.There are plans to build a new bakery, visible from the functions suite, for giving live demonstrations. “At the moment, we share space with everyone else. But the oven, prover and main mixer are only a year old so you can see how much the hotel values fresh bread over part-finished,” says Chant. “It’s sort of mushroomed, really. The hotel used to buy in all the croissants, pains au chocolat and Danish pastries, but now we make all those, as well as tarts, cookies, shortbread and biscuits.”Farmers’ markets, which they started attending in September last year, quickly proved to be a profitable sideline and a nifty means of promoting the bakery at the hotel. The biggest seller is Lardy Cake, which sells for £1.60 – the same price as their 400g loaves. “You’d think it would be the older people going for Lardy Cake – and they do – but it’s the younger people who are really going for it. Some people say they can’t sell it. Rubbish! We were besieged when we started. We couldn’t even get the trays out of the van before people were picking them up! It was a similar story when we did hot cross buns before Easter.”SCRATCH RECIPESThe bread is baked using a 24-hour sponge and dough process. The sourdough starter was supplied by baker Paul Merry, of Panary, and the breads are hand-shaped. “I only use scratch recipes – no premixes, improvers or enzymes. It’s all hand-moulded. I’ve done fancy knots and things, but they’ve got to be able to handle the bread in the restaurant. We’re given the freedom to play about and try things out – as long as it’s not too outrageous.”Flours come from Heygates, while stoneground rye and wholemeal flours are supplied by Stoates Flours at Cann Mills in Dorset. Occasionally, they buy from the nearby Bursledon Windmill.Chant makes a selection of four to five breads daily and seasonality plays a big role in the choice of flavours. A well-cultivated herb garden provides inspiration for a number of breads. Loaves include lavender, rosemary and sultana, basil and tomato, and watercress varieties.The hotel plans to put its 65 acres of grounds to better use, extending the herb garden and, in time, growing all its own vegetables, rhubarb, apples, pears, apricots, redcurrants and blueberries. “It will take three or four years for everything to mature. But the herbs come quickly,” says Tilling.The downside of an ample orchard is when the gardener drops 32 kilos of kiwi fruit from the hotel’s kiwi tree on the doorstep, he adds: “We were like, what are we going to do with all that?”Tilling says he is making use of Callebaut’s Origin chocolates, sourced from individual countries. “Tasting chocolate can be a little bit like tasting wine – they’ve got their different flavours and aromas. We’ll put ’Madagascar chocolate sauce’ or ’Papua New Guinea chocolate mousse’ on the menu. Some are more caramel-flavoured, some are fruity, herby or tobacco-ey – the acidity can change between them.”But asked what he thinks the hotel particularly excels at and, perhaps out of modesty, he proclaims the bread over the chocolates. “It’s amazing that we make all our own bread – and a selection of breads, colours, textures, shapes and sizes as well – because there are so few hotels doing it. A lot of people don’t realise we make our own bread, so you need to make them more knowledgeable about it.”TAKING OVER THE KITCHENThere is a sense that the bakery and patisserie are taking over the kitchen, and it already employs the majority of kitchen staff. “There’s a lot of cross-over,” says Chant of the pastry and bakery roles in the kitchen. “I’ll do some chocolate work and Mark will help out at the farmers’ markets.”Now, there are even hopes to sell the bread from the hotel reception and Chant is also planning on introducing a bread menu.On that day, the hotel’s bakery credentials will surely be complete. n—-=== Adrian Chant CV ===Head bakerTrained at Salisbury College and has worked across a mix of large and small-scale bakery operations, including roles at New Forest Patisserie; McCambridge; Bakers Oven; David Powell Bakeries; Tesco; and Mr Kipling—-=== Mark Tilling CV ===Head Pastry ChefBTEC National Diploma (hotel and catering) at Southampton City College; 1st commis pastry chef at The Lanesborough Hotel, London; head pastry chef at Hotel du Vin, Winchester; Zest, Winchester; chocolatier, Locherley, Hampshirel Won the Callebaut UK Chocolate Champion 2007 and will go on to the World Finals, held in Paris
I didn’t used to go in to baker’s shops all that often, apart from on the odd occasion when I fancied my absolute favourite – carrot cake. There’s a particular carrot cake, which is sold from a baker’s stall in Blackpool, and I swear it’s the best in the world!I also used to go to bakeries when I couldn’t find a Subway. Greggs is good for a lunchtime sandwich – I’d always buy the Chicken New Orleans from there – and they are pretty cheap.But my new boyfriend is a bakery addict and finds it almost impossible to walk past a shop without going in. He finds the smell of freshly baked cakes, bread, pastries, pies completely irresistible.For this reason, I have found myself visiting the otherwise unfamiliar world of bakery shops a little more often than usual. And I must say that I need to be careful. My taste buds are fast getting used to the taste of soft, warm, sweetness and my waistline is quickly expanding in direct correlation!I can’t blame it all on him, though. Being from Belgium, I also have a weakness for pain au chocolat dipped in hot chocolate in the mornings and boule de Berlin (a doughy ball dipped in sugar filled with custard). And I guess that when I’m being healthy I tend to go for brown multigrain bread best dipped in tomato soup. But I admit that I would much rather indulge in naughty snacks.Yum Yums, custard doughnuts, sausage rolls are… mmmm… what dreams are made of!Melanie de Meester, wheelchair tennis assistant, Blackpool
I enjoyed the BSB autumn conference for many reasons but, above all, for the ability to socialise and talk about general bakery issues other than just the prices of raw materials, which seems to have dominated us all in the trade for some time.With unprecedented increases in flour, oils and dairy products, to name a few, the pressure has really been on us all. We have to make consumers realise what a bargain our products are and, despite having to pay even the increases required to cover the cost of raw materials and overheads escalating as they have, they are still getting good-value, highly nutritious and tasty food for little cost.I would also like to take the opportunity to say that it is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that we awarded our first two honorary memberships to the society. We acknowledged Jean Grieves and Mike Byrd. Jean, as many know, was conference chairman for 13 years and Mike recently stepped down as our Treasurer, having served in this position for 15 years. He was responsible for the strong financial position the BSB enjoys to date.You will have noticed that our next conference will coincide with the Food & Bake exhibition at the NEC, with a dinner on Monday, 7 April, and the conference itself taking place on Tuesday, 8 April. I look forward to hosting the spring conference, when we are looking forward to some great papers and big names to make it as informative and enjoyable as ever.
ABO Artisan Bread Organic has launched Glutinis on the market. The gluten-free sandwich bread is sold in freezer tubs of 12 or bags of nine, and can be frozen and toasted on a panini toaster. Glutinis were initially launched on ABO’s on-line shop in 2008, but have now been introduced into retail outlets nationwide.The bags contain nine assorted varieties made from ABO gluten-free rice bread, quinoa bread and buckwheat bread. They can be frozen for up to two months and should be defrosted in the bag at room temperature for two hours. The freezer tubs of 12 contain assorted Glutinis made from ABO gluten-free rice bread, quinoa bread, linseed bread and buckwheat bread.[http://www.artisanbread-abo.co.uk]
www.sielaff.de German vending machine manufacturer Sielaff has come up with an environmentally friendly way to return and recycle PET bottles and cans.Its new i-Core V50 is a ’reverse vending machine’ for the automated return of empties, making it easy for customers to return and recycle them.The unit accepts cans and PET bottles, both refillable and non-refillable. The returned empties are pushed into the machine via an acceptance chute, which is fitted with a slice gate function. These fall into a large polythene bag inside the machine. It has a capacity of up to 500 half-litre PET bottles and can accept returns at the rate of 30 per minute.Bar-code recognition for up to 100 different lines and an integrated coin hopper are fitted as standard to the basic model. Optional extras include a two-hopper version, which separates cans and bottles, a cashless payment system and a choice of different colour finishes.
Britvic and PepsiCo’s sports drink Gatorade is to launch a year-long on-pack promotion starting this month. Entitled ’Gatorade Gives Back’ it will reward consumers with sports equipment, music downloads, sporting holidays and money-can’t-buy experiences. For a chance of winning, consumers need to collect codes, which can then be entered online or via text. “We hope to get as many people involved as possible with schools, clubs and athletes taking full advantage of the rewards available,” commented Adam Draper, Gatorade brand manager.
Now in America they have a machine for slicing dough before it is baked, and this idea is rather novel. The ’Do Slicer’ passes the moulded dough piece to a cutting frame where 25 sickle-shaped knives revolve through slots in the frame. Melted fat is smeared automatically on the knife blades and this, coating the dough slices, prevents them sticking together again after baking. Thus the baked loaf holds together alright, but the individual slices can be taken from it one at a time. Whether the bread is likely to find much favour either in America or over here remains to be seen…
Dear Mr CameronThe NAMB represents craft bakers’ businesses in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands and, on their behalf, I am completely appalled at the information in today’s news.Was it on Tuesday, Mr Prime Minister, that you stood before the CBI to encourage businesses (large and small) to lead the country out of its economic turmoil? Then yesterday, your colleague, the Pensions Minister, announced a new employer’s pension contribution, staged from 2012 of 1% to 3% from 2017.What a contradiction over a 24-hour period! Surely this has to be a massive disincentive for our members to increase full-time employees. In fact, I see this as an increase of NI contributions of 1%-plus, that you and your colleagues so rightly pilloried the last Labour Government over.All these ideas may seem right in Westminster circles, but are clearly unaffordable for small businesses being squeezed from all angles. Bakers cannot increase prices at the drop of a hat to maintain their margins and the result will be more redundancies.You have time for a rethink please consult associations like mine, where you could find alternative suggestions from the people who voted you into office.
Craft bakers are waiting until spring to put up prices, fearing a VAT rise could jeopardise trade during the toughest time of the year. Although many don’t sell that many VAT-rated products, such as hot takeaway food, the hike to 20% would compound a patchy Christmas nationwide.Chatwins won’t put prices up in its coffee lounges until Easter, said chairman Edward Chatwin: “January wouldn’t be the best time to do it so we’ll lose that margin for the next few months.”And Price & Sons in Ludlow plans to wait until its annual price rise when ingredient costs go up.Eat-in food in Scottish bakery Ashers’ cafés as well as some takeaway products in its retail shops will be affected, said MD Alister Asher: “January and February are usually quieter, so we plan to hold prices for a couple of months and will move them when things pick up in March.”Paul Clark, of Phat Pasty, said the VAT increase was hitting it hard as the firm sells lots of hot products such as soup, bacon rolls and breakfast products. “We haven’t passed those price increases onto our customers yet. Obviously it will impact on margin but we’re currently absorbing those costs into the business,” said Clark.More than 70% of small firms expect the VAT rise to have a negative impact on their business, according to a member survey by the Federation of Small Businesses. However, small bakery outfits such as kitchen table cupcake makers might be able to escape the increase, because self-employed people with a turnover excluding VAT under £150,000 can register for a flat-rate scheme with HM Revenue & Customs and pay a fixed rate of tax which is considerably lower than the standard 20%.
Tunnock profits trebleAccording to accounts obtained from Companies House, Scottish tea cake and caramel wafer company Thomas Tunnock more than trebled its pre-tax profits to £3.41m in its last financial year, boosted by a one-off gain of £2.03m, the detail of which is confidential.Blaa appeal for PGIA national consultation process on the application of the Waterford Blaa for registration as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) has been launched. The product, which is a kind of fluffy roll, has been made in the city for centuries.Baker fined on injuryAn owner of a Hampshire-based bakery has been prosecuted and fined after an employee suffered injuries from operating a dough moulder with no guarding. Fifty-eight-year-old Peter Ellis, owner of Belinda’s Bakery in Poulner, was found guilty at Southampton Magistrates’ Court after an unnamed man crushed his fingers on his right hand in the machinery in an incident on 30 November 2010.Whitley recognisedReal Bread Campaign co-founder Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters was presented with the special judges’ prize at the BBC Food and Farming Awards last month. Real Bread Campaign member the True Food Co-operative in Reading also picked up an award for best retail initiative during the event.