Sponsored by CSM Bakery Solution

Winner: Maison du Pain, Mathieu le Bras

Maison du Pain was tasked by client Honest Burgers to create a bespoke gourmet burger bun, made to a price budget, with a premium artisan presentation. It also needed to be plain but flavoursome, and allow Honest’s meat patty to be the star.

“As an artisan bakery, this really challenged our processes and our normal methods of making bread,” says managing director Mathieu le Bras.

“Our head of NPD Martin Hull worked closely with the ingredients suppliers and reformulated the recipe many times, sampling regularly over a six-month period to the head chef at Honest Burgers in order to find the perfect carrier for their sauces and the meat patty juices.”

The business also hired a food science intern to overlook and manage the ‘Best Bun in the World’ project, and monitored every stage of data on a daily basis during production runs.

“After analysing the data during months of development, we finally achieved a robust, even-textured bun with a golden glazed top,” says le Bras. “The process was documented and shared with our teams for training processes. Most importantly, the customer was delighted.”

The product has now been commercialised as The Craft Bun.

Finalist: Village Bakery, Robin Jones

When Village Bakery was challenged to work with the Marks & Spencer (M&S) bakery team to produce a range of gluten-free croissants, the business had no idea that it would end up with a facility able to make Danish and other pastry products as well.

“Starting with the croissant, we worked with the team at M&S,” says Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones, adding that also on board were new ingredients suppliers and bakery machinery specialist Rondo.

“Together, we overcame the challenge of getting the rheology strong enough to hold the ferment, while soft enough to roll out the laminating fat,” he says. “The temperature was critical and we were required to use French butter for the M&S croissants.”

Jones adds that the investment in gluten-free pastry is just the beginning of a wheat-free relationship with M&S that also secured Village Bakery a win in the BIA Free-from Bakery Product category (see p59).

Longer term, the company is building a dedicated gluten-free facility alongside its existing bakery in Wrexham.

Finalist: Fabricake Sugarcraft, Hayley Wisken

Research was key to Fabricake Sugarcraft discovering what its customers needed, both professionals and amateurs.

Co-owner Hayley Wisken set about conducting a survey with seven different online cake forums and chat rooms to discover what customers liked, did not like or wanted to change about the company’s specialist retail and online shops.

As a result, Fabricake sought the help of a new web designer, Visualsoft, which provided a responsive website, as well as links to Amazon and eBay, which are integrated into its own site. The launch took place last year and has been a huge success, says Wisken.

Fabricake also offers 35 free video tutorials on its site for customers, with all eight members of staff experienced sugarcrafters. And, to go with the new website launch, it is introducing its own app in October and changing its marketing stationery, uniforms and shop signage.

Classes in the firm’s Cake School are now being redefined around its customers’ needs identified in the survey.