In my world: the craft baker
Published:  11 July, 2008

Tom Herbert a fifth-generation baker and director of Hobbs House Bakery, a multi award-winning craft bakery based in south Gloucestershire

Wow, what a week! I feel like a balloon being bent and twisted into a shape at the hands of the Almighty,

Costs rise and squeeze, we find some efficiencies and extra sales (squeak, twist, bend). We change our shifts around, we take a pay cut, we put up prices (SQUEAK, bend, don't pop!). Sales go up!

Customers just love good bread, and rightly so, I mean, how could you honestly go back once you've savoured fresh bread made with a list of ingredients that can be counted on one hand? It's travel and flying that we seem more ready to compromise on, and I know a place in Cornwall that makes the best pasties and if the the trip is blessed with sun, it's hardly a compromise at all.

Having banged on the sourdough drum, shaken the tambourine of spelt and played on the harmonica of rye for at least 10 years, in what feels like a West Country one-man band, there is now an audience dancing to the "wheat-free, yeast-free, taste-fantastic, know what's in it and where it's sourced" tune, making it worth the effort. So much so, we've hardly had time to blow our own trumpet. If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon, hop on now, before you get left behind.

I love finding ways of bigging up bread. Awareness of bread flows through my veins and consciousness, flavouring everything I think and do, and when bread connects with something wholly new to me, there is a spark and fission that gets me stoked.

If you still think this is woolly-twaddle, it's likely you're alienating a significant proportion of customers with a conscience and disposable income, looking for something reliable to sustain them and those around them - alienating anyone is a risky business in the current climate.

Well, you sow the seeds and it's vital to rejoice when some of the seeds bear fruit, especially when the Credit Crunch Muesli bars aren't selling like hot cakes.

This month, we hosted the nationally renowned portrait photographer Georgie Brocklehurst's art exhibitions in my café. He offered to do a project on customers enjoying their favourite HHB product and, if a picture can say 1,000 words, that's a lot of endorsement. You're all invited to the Private View and, as soon as I have any, I'll post some photos on our website.




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