'We created a mash-up of a ciabatta and a sour process'

Jason Geary, managing director of Geary’s Bakery, on how he blended tradition and modernity to develop the bakery’s new bread

Geary’s previously had a brand that we supplied to several customers, but over time things changed and we no longer made it.

I started to think about the types of product we could market under our name, and wanted a brand that embraced the heritage of my family’s 120-year-old bakery and the modernity I bring as a 21st century baker. The result was Jason’s Bread.

Many people said I was brave to launch in a very competitive market but I really believed in what our team was doing and it just felt right!

There was a gap in the market for convenient and affordable artisanal-style bread. We wanted consumers to be able to look beyond the in-store bakery and find an affordable, packaged and sliced option of quality artisanal bread that lasted longer and was quick and simple to eat without compromising on taste.

We have stayed true to artisanal baking methods, but have used some modern equipment to produce high numbers of the product. However, the quality and taste have stayed the same.

I avoided yeast, instead using a long natural fermentation process to develop a nutty sour flavour with a nice open texture that standard plant bread can never achieve. After several attempts, we created a method best described as a mash-up of a ciabatta and a sour process, which is baked in a tin. This is where the name ‘Ciabattin’ came from.

We created the white loaf to act as the ‘staple’ classic bread. It has been nicknamed ‘crumpet bread’ because, when toasted, it’s like a toasted crumpet with a nice mellow sour flavour.  The Grains & Seeds loaf – a sprouted spelt seeded loaf – is our healthier alternative. We soak the seeds, so they are digested better and it provides more nutrients than normal seeded bread.

We wanted our final loaf to stand out from the crowd and make a bit of noise. I spent a long time trying artisanal craft beers and finally settled on Vixen Copper Ale from our local craft brewery, Charnwood, to create this malty hoppy bread.

The packaging needed to fit with what the brand stood for, so we’ve used modern colours for each variant and old-fashioned noisy packaging, like in the olden days, when the bakery would wrap your bread in brown paper. The numbers on the packaging are from our competition recipe book, which we’ve used since the 1960s. My dad passed it on to me some years ago; it’s nice to be able to share a little piece of it with our customers.

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