Being mindful that Christmas is once again approaching, the last few weeks have been both interesting and enjoyable with a lot of activity including baking competitions. With a holiday sandwiched in the middle it’s been a busy time.
Anyone with any fears about Turkey should not worry; security at the airport and in other key places is first class. For me it is a country with some of the best bread. Pide is a Turkish flatbread that is baked fresh in a stone oven and stuffed with fillings such as feta and parsley. Thin and crispy, it puffs up like a balloon with a hollow centre full of steam – it really does takes some beating. Almost every Turkish restaurant has a resident baker and serves it fresh and hot.
Reading as you do on holiday (between bakery visits), I came across a segment about medieval punishment. I quote: “A baker was paraded through the streets on a tumbrel, a wooden cart with wooden wheels, as punishment for multiple instances of fornication.” I am not familiar with this bread-making method, but I must find out as it sounds very interesting.
The Tiptree World Bread Awards were held once again at Westminster Cathedral. I was honoured to be assistant to the chairman of judges, Stephen Hallam. There were 19 categories including Home Baker, Trainee Baker and Young Baker, all helping to create interest in the industry. The quality of some of the bread was first class, which made the job of judging, by a large panel of industry experts, very difficult. A lot of information was provided, along with a demonstration on the judging procedure by Stephen, to ensure consistency across all categories. It proved to have worked with the eventual winners being extremely deserving. These can be found on the competition website.
Another enjoyable day was spent judging the BB Christmas Stars. This is a competition that awards stars to winners of various festive categories. How could you get fed up tasting festive products that included Christmas cakes, puddings, panettone, mince pies and stolen, to name just a few? Again, the validity of the awards is down to having a very experienced judging panel, and this included award-winning bakers, food marketing experts, college lecturers, and a TV personality. The winners can found on the BB website.
Thank you to David Smart, MD of Greenhalghs Bakery, for the invitation to its 60-year celebration, held in a fantastic setting just outside my hometown of Bolton. The evening, attended by around 200 people, was excellent.
The Craft Bakers & Butchers Extravaganza was held at the Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate. A compact exhibition that created a really warm and friendly atmosphere, most of the exhibitors I spoke to were very happy with the numbers attending and the potential leads for new and existing business. The previous night’s networking dinner provided the opportunity to meet both new and old friends; and enjoying good food and a drink or two/three rounded off a really good evening. The baking competition was well organised by the Craft Bakers Association (CBA) with the best in show being won by Old Bridge Bakery.
And finally it was a great honour to be installed as CBA president elect at the recent AGM. My wife and I received our chains of office and look forward to giving the fullest support to the CBA and its members. My wife is already looking for a new handbag to match her chain – it is going to be a tough time…