Gerhard Jenne reflects on just how far the UK bakery market has changed since he arrived on British shores.
It’s a bit of a whirlwind of a week: the book launch, a celebration to go with it and an exhibition of the photographs to follow. My friend Henrietta is coming over from Munich to help celebrate and it was her, over 30 years ago, who sold me this idea of coming to England and also accompanied me when I first arrived in London.
We came over on budget carrier DanAir - then the butt of many jokes. We entered via the rear end of the BAC1-11 and lowered ourselves into the tightly packed seats. I was sure astronauts had more space on their Apollo missions. After a quick cross-check and taxi to the runway we took off. From then, there was no turning back on my British adventure. A few minutes into the flight the stewardess, as the job title went then, brought us a little plastic tray with triangular sandwiches and this was to be my first encounter with British cuisine.
My memory might play slight tricks on me, but I vividly recall there were three of them, looking rather monochrome on account of their cheese, egg and ham fillings. The bread was slightly wilted with a pappy texture and all of it was served on a flimsy little plastic tray.
It is with great delight that I will be able to welcome Henrietta again this week. More important, though, is the fact we can celebrate how the baking sector in the UK has turned around in just one generation.
On a walk across Borough Market last Saturday I didn’t know which way to turn my head. There were so many bread stalls offering loaves of distinction and great formats, textures and unusual flavours. From Karaway to Bread Ahead, with its attached bread school, you really got a sense that baking bread is rocking. I haven’t even mentioned the amazing cake and patisserie offerings!
This sentiment was reflected in the webinar I listened to on British Baker’s website this week. BB’s editor, Martyn Leek, discusses the insights of the Bakery Market Report 2014 with several industry experts. It’s a summary and reflection of what is going on in baking at the moment. It discusses what influences the market, how health trends shape our product development, why customer engagement is important and what growth areas and future trends are in the pipeline. I urge you to listen to it for all its insights.
Living and working in London gives you only one perspective of the baking industry. It is quite interesting to hear of the many regional businesses and chains that are not only shaping their loaves, but also the baking industry in a wider sense.
When Henrietta takes off this time it’s a whole different ball game. She has probably been served a wholesome muffin or ‘healthy option’ sandwich on the plane over, while crusty sourdoughs gleam from the racks at Jamie’s Italian after touchdown. Her old friend has opened a few shops and just published his second book - time to chink the glasses!