Brotform micro-business now in production

Breadstead, a micro-business set up to offer a UK alternative to brotforms and bannetons shipped from overseas, has now produced its first run of baking bowls

In March last year, British Baker reported that Breadstead founder Mike Batho was looking to create a British brotform, or banneton – a cane basket typically used to make artisan breads such as sourdough – in a bid to cut the number of imports of the traditional cane versionsfrom China or Indonesia.

He took to online fundraising scheme Kickstarter, and set his target at £3,500, which would go towards the tooling and first run of 1,000 pieces.

Batho said: “The Kickstarter campaign eventually smashed the target and I was able to press on with the tooling to make the bowl.”

Batho had originally said he would look to produce his alternative bowls out of recycled or recyclable plastic, and had come up with his own design which he had tested.

He went into production just before Christmas 2013, and took delivery of his first run of run of British-made brotform baking bowls. "My room looks like behind the scenes at Argos, as I process and box orders, all by hand,” he joked.

“It has been a massive learning curve about what you can and cannot produce with different methods, which I’ve learned on the hop,” said Batho.

“After the initial tooling had been done, for example, the tool had to be reshaped slightly, as it wasn’t releasing the bowls after each was stamped and cut out. There was also a last-minute tweak to the bowl design to leave more distinct rings around the top of the finished loaf.”

The funding for the first run of product came from two private investors, who Batho said he will pay back over the next couple of years.

“I’ve set up this whole business on a shoestring. Every single stage from design and 3D printing of the prototype, to protection of the design, to tooling to production to shipping has been a massive hurdle.”

He said that interest in the product had been good, and bakers were posting pictures on his website – http://www.breadstead.co.uk – of their results.

“They’re also being used in bread-making classes and have been stocked in bakery shops,” he added. “I’m aiming them mainly at micro bakeries and home bakers, where space may really be an issue, as 10 of my bowls stack to less than 13cm in height.”

At the moment he is only selling a single product, but said he hoped to expand the range over the next six months.

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