What a month – being asked to be president elect of the Craft Bakers Association (CBA) is truly a great honour! Following in the footsteps of previous presidents in an organisation that was established in 1887 is a daunting task. I also know that, because of the calibre of more recent presidents, the role will be even more difficult. However, I plan to give as much support to the Association and its members as I am able to. The CBA provides many benefits for its members and has links with all the other major bodies in our industry, so it is well worth being a member.
I guess I have to put one item to rest – the title of being ‘Bolton’s Baker’. This was taken away from me recently by former CBA president and renowned baker, TV star and MD of Greenhalghs Bakery, Mr David Smart. Quite simply, David, you were born in Horwich near Bolton and your business is in Horwich near Bolton. I, however, was born and ‘bread’ in Bolton.
Another holiday, you might say, but my recent visit to Menorca restored my faith in good quality bread, both in our hotel and in the local bakeries. A full range of bread types were available in our hotel and they were always freshly baked and warm. The executive chef had started his career in bakery and therefore, in his words, it was his first love and he was very proud of it.
Ensaimada, a traditional pastry product, was available everywhere, presented in very appealing hexagon-shaped boxes, selling for around 12 to 15 euros for approximately 500g. Another example of how a traditional bakery product can be marketed and developed into a must-have purchase, it originated in Mallorca, with recipes dating back to the 17th century, but is now produced in most Spanish-speaking countries. The recipes used, however, vary slightly from bakery to bakery.
The yeast-based pastry, sometimes also classed as bread or cake, was produced with a mixture of yeast activity and lamination, using a reduced pork lard called ‘saim’ (hence the name), though it is more commonly replaced by butter today. Produced in a coil shape, it is sprinkled with a heavy coat of icing sugar. It is mainly eaten at breakfast, dipped in hot coffee or as an afternoon snack. It is a very soft sweet flaky product and eats a bit like brioche.
Famous at last, a fellow holidaymaker recognised me following my appearance baking at the recent Hovis roadshow in Leeds. She told me that the day after she saw my demonstration she made bread for the first time at home, and it was pretty good. Nice to get some feedback.
One of the most common questions asked across all the cities visited during the Hovis roadshow concerned salt. People understood that too much salt was bad for you, but they did not know why and how they could reduce their personal intake. There is an opportunity to give more information to customers, particularly letting them know that most bakers have reduced salt in bread due to government recommendations over last few years.
Another very successful Students Conference was held recently at Alton Towers with over 280 attendees. The judges carrying out their duties said that the quality of entries was once again first class and a credit to the students and tutors. I have to thank the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees committee for organising the event. It takes a lot of effort with people giving up their time free while also carrying out very demanding day jobs. Well done all round.
The Kent Bakers Association Annual Dinner Dance at the end of June was again a big success. The competitive nature of the Kent Bakers is electric as the winners are announced during the evening dinner. Twenty two different classes across bread and confectionary were contested, with the winners achieving high standards. The next two major competitions are the World Bread Awards in September and the CBA competitions in Early October. Details can be found on their websites.
Finally, many thanks to Bakels and Rondo, who were the sponsors of the classes at the Baking Industry Awards, for allowing me to be part of their judging panel.