Free-from category winner Village Bakery pushed the boundaries to create its winning product, as managing director Robin Jones explains.

Welsh family business Village Bakery scooped two awards at last year’s Baking Industry Awards, one being Free-from Bakery Product of the Year for its Made Without Wheat Belgian Chocolate Twists, which it supplies to Marks & Spencer.

“It was a great honour to win,” managing director Robin Jones tells British Baker, adding that he and the Village Bakery team, which includes Robin’s brother Christien, the firm’s project director (pictured right), weren’t expecting a win on the night.

“You never go to these awards expecting to win anything. That’s always a bonus,” he says. “We were really pleased; this event is the Oscars of the baking industry and it was a fantastic night.”

While the competition was tough, Village Bakery had spent 18 months developing the Made Without Wheat Belgian Chocolate Twists.

The winning product is made with 24 layers of flaky, gluten-free dough, layered with French laminating butter. The product is then hand-twisted with the addition of Belgian chocolate nibs and a bespoke gluten-free vanilla crème pâtissière, left to prove and baked in a rack oven. It has also been developed for the consumer to reheat, so that it maintains a crisp pastry when heated at home.

“Ultimately, the product tastes great,” says Jones. “In the free-from market, the aim of every baker is to make products taste like normal products. We really pushed the boundaries and we’ve achieved great things.”

Jones reveals that, on the night of the awards ceremony, news of the win was on Village Bakery’s social media platforms before his brother Christien had even come off the stage after collecting the award. The team also shared it on the Village Bakery intranet system to inform employees.

To those thinking of entering the Baking Industry Awards this year, Jones says “Go for it!

“It is a great night and the sponsors looked after us magnificently. They really did make it special for us. It puts you on the map, it’s great PR and it’s good for staff morale,” he adds.

Village Bakery said it will now continue to work hard, and that it has a few pieces of new product development up its sleeve that it hopes will be available in time to enter the Baking Industry Awards 2020.

Ingredion’s Alan MacDougall, Village Bakery’s Christien Jones and Stephen Mulhern

Sponsor’s comment

Village Bakery has really embraced the ‘free-from’ category, making a decision to be part of this trend by making its facility wheat-free.

The firm showed real tenacity in developing this product, demonstrated by the number of trials to ensure a consistent dough was achieved every time. This has led them to deliver a step-change to the ‘free-from’ category by creating a style of product that some bakery producers would never have attempted. The quality of this product was comparable to an equivalent product made using wheat, which is not easy to achieve. We were really impressed.

Virginia Clifford, regional technical service manager, UK, Ireland & Southern Europe