Baker Tonia Stimpson lost her battle against breast cancer on 18 May, aged 36. Terry Miller of La Fornaia writes that Tonia was La Fornaia’s development baker and had been with the supplier for over four years. She worked in the industry for over 20 years starting at Abingdon’s Cottage Bakery, moving to Northern Foods and on to to La Fornaia. Tonia was a popular member of staff at La Fornaia with a great love for Brentford FC – she used to travel around the country to watch them. She was an inspiration to us all and will be sadly missed by family, friends and work colleagues.
Fuerst Day Lawson (FDL), supplier of seeds and natural ingredients to the baking industry, can now supply sesame seeds processed in India.This is the result of a partnership with Amira Tanna Industries. “This partnership will blend the operating and origination experience of our Indian partners and the extensive coverage of the European customer base by FDL,” said Frank Horan, divisional director of FDL’s Seeds and Natural Products Division. “It gives FDL full control of the supply of sesame seeds from the origin to the customer.”FDL has agreed to take an equity interest in Amira Tanna’s sesame processing business, giving it exclusive rights to the output of the Ahmedabad plant, which can process 6,000 tonnes of sesame seeds a year using the newest technology. This includes a Buhler Sortex Z3 optical colour sorting machine.Seeds will be supplied direct from Ahmedabad or go through FDL’s processing and packing plant at Little Walden near Cambridge in the UK, depending on the market.”All through the process, the seed is controlled to the most exacting standards,” said Horan. “We see this investment as a further commitment by FDL to sourcing and shipping the raw materials needed by our expanding customer base.”He added: “It follows on from our investment in a state-of-the-art cleaning and blending facility for speciality seeds at our Little Walden plant. FDL can supply sesame seeds with a guarantee of quality.”
I’m on a full-time NVQ Level 2 in bakery course at Brooklands College, in Weybridge, Surrey. We make all sorts of products, such as white loaves, brown loaves, puff pastry, lemon cake, doughnuts, ginger cake, scones – anything really. My favourite is bread, because I find it easy and more fun to make. You don’t have to think too hard when you’re doing it and you tend to make a lot more bread than other products.When I finish this year, I could go straight into work, but I’m thinking of doing a Level 3 NVQ, because I enjoy the course so much and because I have fun with my friends. I also have the option of taking an additional sugarcraft course, which involves icing and decorating cakes.In the future, I hope to become an experienced baker and, one day, I may open my own shop.There’s nothing else I’d rather do than be a baker. Baking bread would be perfect – but I’d have to get up very early in the mornings and work long days.Early startsThe hardest part of college is getting up at 7.30am. We have to be in the bakery by 9.15am and we don’t finish baking until around 12.30pm. I don’t really find any of the products hard to make; if we get stuck at any point, there are a lot of people around to advise us and we all help each other out. I really enjoy making bakery products and love being around other people who enjoy the same thing. The lessons are not too strict, so we can have fun, both with each other and with the tutors. Our tutors – Jane Hatton and Sue Haskell – are really good. They are also very helpful and friendly.We do practical work everyday, followed by a session of written work in which we fill in our folders, explaining what we have done and answering questionnaires, which test what we have learned. This is very useful and helps us to gain an NVQ at the end of the course.original ambitionOriginally, I wanted to be a chef and did a course in which I had one lesson of bakery. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to change to bakery, as I found it much more interesting. There always seemed to be a new challenge. I have always wanted to be in the food industry because I saw my mum cooking and wished I could do it myself.Now, some-times, I show her how to bake things. I like cookery programmes and alwaystry to make sure that I see Gordon Ramsay’s shows. I think that anyone who wants to get into bakery should work hard and try their hardest, but have fun while they are doing it.I have already recommended the baking industry to a couple of my friends. n
A fatal combination of chronic poverty, natural disasters and extremes of drought and flooding, mean that Malawi has repeatedly been affected by dire famine since 2002. It is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, with an average life expectancy of around 40 years. The country has an alarming rate of infant mortality, while thousands of children are orphaned every year due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. People often spend what little money they have on crucial medicine rather than food.A small charity, based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, is appealing to the baking industry to improve the lives of Malawians, as it aims to regenerate a poverty-stricken village in Mulanje. The charity, Combined Hope and Aid Relief Mission (CHARM), is asking bakers to donate bakery equipment, including ovens, provers, mixers, moulders, worktops, trolleys, trays and racks. “We’re also looking for bakers, possibly retired, to go over to Malawi for a couple of months and train the locals. This would have to be at their own expense, as we want profit to be put back into helping others,” says Emily Clarke, the chairperson and founder of the charity.The village is close to Mulanje Mountain, the highest mountain in southern central Africa. With its famous Sapitwa Peak standing over 3,000 metres above sea level, the mountain houses over 800 plant species, 250 birds and 180 butterflies, in habitats ranging from woodlands, evergreen forests and grasslands to marshes and rivers. Despite its many economical and social problems, Malawi is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and is often referred to as the warm heart of Africa.The majority of people living in the rural areas of Malawi, however, do not have jobs and struggle to feed themselves and their families. The average family lives on less than £15 per month. CHARM aims to assist these families by creating jobs and sustainable sources of income. It provides loans and training to people, enabling them to set up their own businesses. The loans are usually paid back over six months, with 10% interest. “This puts more money back into the pot, which is meanwhile growing and growing, ensuring that CHARM can help others set up businesses,” says Clarke. “It also gives the people who borrowed the money a real sense of achievement, as they don’t feel like they’re a charity case. They end up with a business and a real sense of pride, providing not only jobs, but hope for the future of the country. The people we’re currently targeting are families who support orphans, as well as their own children.”Establishing a bakery, which cost around £6,000, is the biggest challenge that CHARM has tackled so far. The money was raised by holding various events, including fairs, fun-runs, sponsored events and donations. “The community told us they wanted a bakery, as there’s not one in Mulanje. The nearest bakery is over an hour’s drive, so what tends to happen is that people will go there and buy lots of goods. They come back to Mulanje and sell bread. Sometimes it’s over a week old and mouldy, but the villagers will still buy it because it’s the only bread available.”The bakery building is almost finished. “Over there, the soil is like clay,” says Clarke. “If you add water to it, mould it into shape and let it dry in the sun, that’s your brick. They’re all handmade. We’re paying builders to build the bakery, a square building with a corrugated iron roof. All we need to do now is equip it.”It is expected that the bakery will produce between 70 and 80 loaves every day, employing about five people at a time. Other than bread, cakes will be made according to demand, as well as pies and pasties. “To these people, cakes are a luxury,” says Clarke. “On the other side of Mulanje, there is a hospital with a lot of white people working there. I anticipate that the cakes we make will be bought in bulk and taken to the white workers.”The point of the bakery is to pay wages, supply the community with a much-needed bakery and use the profit to open another business, and then another business, and so on. This will continue until there’s a thriving economy out there. It’s also about creating a sense of hope. The sign saying that a bakery was coming made a lot of people very excited.”After speaking with Malawi’s Minister of Employment, Clarke says that CHARM’s ultimate goal is to re-open a jam factory, creating hundreds of jobs. This is a distant dream, as the cost of the project would exceed £1 million.Clarke explains: “As a teenager, I really wanted to help less fortunate people in Africa. I felt I had to do something and tried all sorts of things to try and quench that feeling, such as sponsoring a child in Africa and climbing Kilimanjaro. None of this was enough. That’s when I decided to set up my own charity in 2003. I wanted to help people to help themselves, making lasting changes.”On my first visit to Mulanje, the first loans were given out to a group of women. We held a ceremony to present them with the money. This was one of the happiest days for the women. Each lady, some of whom had never lifted a pen before, then signed a contract. They could not believe it. There was singing, dancing and drum playing. It was such a fantastic atmosphere and everybody was very happy. It was amazing.”Once you’ve been over there, you never see things in the same way again.” nIf you would like to help,email: [email protected] or tel 01246 203115
More than 700 bakers and businesses took part in the recent National Doughnut Week, sponsored by BakeMark UK. Money is still being collected, but it is hoped to raise up to £40,000 in total.Campbell’s bakery of Crieff, in the Scottish Highlands, was one of the bakeries which joined in the event from 5-12 May.The firm held a doughnut eating competition at its local market, which raised over £200 for Doughnut Week charity the Children’s Trust. This provides specialist care and rehabilitation for children with multiple disabilities.The winner, Craig Copeland, munched an impressive five and a half doughnuts in five minutes.Ian Campbell, manager of the bakery, said: “At first we were going to have a competition to see if people could eat a doughnut without licking their lips. Instead we went for the doughnut eating competition. It’s funny because Craig is also Campbell’s pie eating Champion, after he won an event held in October.”Campbell said that every one who attended the event had a great time. It also received publicity in the local newspaper.
We were just thinking, ’the world of toaster innovation has gone a bit quiet of late’, and then three major domestic bread-heating advances drop on our desks.First up is the ’bacon butty toaster’. Following last year’s Toast N Egg a toaster with an egg fryer unceremoniously bolted onto the side the boffins at Tefal have put their scientific learning to best use by devising the Toast N Grill. This is an all-in-one toaster and grill, filling the gap in the market for those people who are unable to face the arduous task of operating a grill and a toaster at the same time.Next is the ’slotless toaster’, which, for a mere $90 in the US, allows you to toast without having to lift your bread out of a slot. It features a 10.25 x 7-inch heated surface the obvious failing being that you have to turn your toast over to brown both sides. One gadget website aptly described it as “much like your existing toaster, only less useful”.Last but not least literally the ’Wallace & Gromit’ of the toaster world. Devised by former art student Yuri Suzuki, this all-in-one breakfast device, which cost £900 to assemble, can spread butter and jam onto toast, fry omelettes, freshly-squeeze orange juice and even freshly grind coffee beans. Surely the last word in toasting? Tefal, take note.
Scones are the staple of the tea table. Whether served with clotted cream and fresh strawberries or butter and jam, they are an integral part of a very British institution. There are many different varieties of the plain and not-so-plain scone. The recipe for scones is thought to have originated in Scotland and would have been baked on a stone or griddle in a round, before being cut into wedges.Nowadays we are more used to seeing the round scone that has been baked in the oven. The most common variations are cheese, treacle and fruit. They are also made as a topping for casseroles or stews where the scones are placed on top of the meat for the last half hour or so of cooking. They are called cobblers because of the top’s resemblance to stone cobbles. You can use different liquids to make them for example milk, soured milk, buttermilk and yoghurt.Dried fruits such as apricots, mango, apple, blueberries and sour cherries can all be added as a variation, as well as stem ginger and chopped nuts. This recipe has dried cranberries, dried apple and cinnamon added to it. Ground almonds and yoghurt also give a moist texture, which help with the keeping quality.Cranberry and Apple SconesIngredientsSelf-raising flour1kgSalt10gButter320gGround almonds120gDried cranberries200gDried apple320gGround cinnamon20gMilk400gNatural yoghurt400gMethod1. Preheat the oven to 210C/fan 190C. Line baking sheets with baking parchment.2. Sift the flour and salt into a container. Mix in the butter and add the almonds, cranberries, apple and cinnamon. Mix well.3. Mix the milk and yoghurt together and add to the scone mix. It should form a soft, but not sticky dough. Add more flour if necessary.4. Turn on to a work surface and roll out to 2.5cm thickness. Stamp out into rounds and bake for 15 minutes.5. Put on to wire rack to cool down and cover with a tea towel if you want soft tops.l Fiona is co-author of Leith’s Baking Bible and runs a training school in Edinburgh www.entcs.co.uk
British Baker will be organising a PR campaign to drive awareness of the week in the national media. If you would like to get in involved and maximise your business during the week, contact [email protected] to join our media list.British Baker will be sending out branded posters to help subscribing bakers and cafes market the event. Downloadable point-of-sale material is now for you to display during National Cupcake Week. A branded A3 poster is downloadable, with space to add your own text. The National Cupcake Week logo is also available, so make sure you use them in your shops to generate consumer interest and to promote the week.Point Of Sale MaterialPlease Note:The logo is available free for download usage by independent bakers and cafés to promote their participation in National Cupcake Week to consumers. Its download and use by any parties or companies other than the above or for promotion of products other than retail cupcakes sold to the consumer, requires the specific permission of British Baker.National Cupcake Week is a registered trademark of William Reed Business Media and may not be used for any promotions, except those listed above without the prior and express permission. Please contact [email protected] to facilitate this.N.B. To download right click on the link (not the thumbnail) and choose ’save link as’ 2010 Sponsors >> Logo (.jpg) 1.23 mb >> Poster (pdf) 564 kb
Jonathan Winchester, MD of mystery shopping and customer service specialist Shopper Anonymous, points to the power of moments of truthOver the years, thousands of studies have shown that what makes effective one-to-one communication between your team member and the customer has three major components: body language, the tone of your voice and the words that you use.Research tells us, however, that body language makes up 80% of one-to-one communication and our more than 100,000 mystery shopping trips in the fresh food industry across the world over the past 15 years back this up. Given that you have just six seconds in which to impress the customer, the two most important components are eye contact and a smile, preferably with a positive acknowledgement normally a simple “hello!”. In Shopper Anonymous-speak, we call this ’the moment of truth’.A ’moment of truth’ presents a positive impression of a business and can happen several times to a single customer while within your bakery. These ’moments of truth’ can be while the customer is in a queue or when they’re being served; sitting at a table, when a team member passes them; and, most importantly, when they leave the shop when the initial “hello” is replaced with “thank you”, “goodbye” or “look forward to seeing you again”.We know that in a bakery with a sit-down food offering, the average team has the opportunity to deliver at least four ’moments of truth’ to every customer. A good tip is to sit in your bakery, follow a customer through the experience and measure how many moments of truth that customer receives. I suspect that, in the average bakery, it might be one out of the possible four.Through our surveys we know that businesses on a comprehensive mystery-shopping programme deliver at least three, ensuring customers leave with a positive impression that leads them to recommend the business to their friends all based on that all-important ’moment of truth’.Your challenge is to measure and increase the ’moments of truth’ within your business. You or even better, someone anonymous should go and observe your team in action right now to see if they are delivering ’moments of truth’. Working on the ratio of four per customer, if you’ve got 200 customers per day, that’s 800 ’moments of truth’ your team need to be delivering. Put simply, more ’moments of truth’ equals more profitability.www.shopperanonymous.co.uk
Bolton-based Greenhalgh’s, a long-established family craft business, has successfully kept to the principles it was founded upon, while embracing the needs of the 21st century consumer. Its ability to change with the times, as well as provide high-quality products and service were key reasons why it won The Craft Business Award, sponsored by Rank Hovis, at the Baking Industry Awards last year.”The inspiration and driving force behind Greenhalgh’s, which built it into the business is it today, was its founder Allan Smart, who sadly died in 2003,” says Sandra Ogden, head of retail operations. “He saw what was needed to produce the very best and he made it happen.”The company is now run by his wife Kathleen Smart and children David Smart, production director, and Anne Busby, HR director, together with key senior executives. Ogden says the bakery has a large number of long-serving staff. She herself has been working for Greenhalgh’s for more than 20 years and is responsible for its estate of shops and staff. Ogden says the staff are very proud and passionate about the bakery’s reputation and welcomed the chance for the bakery to be benchmarked against its competitors in the Awards. “We showcased our products and how passionate we were, and I think that’s what the judges recognised. We also highlighted our ability to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as the continued family involvement in the firm.”She explains that the business is also very self-sufficient. “We have our own art studio, with a full-time graphic designer and a printer who produce materials for our window displays, point-of-sale materials and labels. We also have our own garage, which services all our vehicles.”Ogden says the win has bought a range of benefits, from improving customer perceptions, public relations, recruitment and staff morale. “The competition was stiff, so we were very proud to have won it.”As part of Ogden’s role she promotes team spirit and motivation and has a tremendous amount of passion for the business and its products. Ogden adds: “Greenhalgh’s is a very solid company, but we must never be complacent. Training is paramount to everything we do.”Staff have on-the-job training, and the company has an on-site training centre at its head office in Lostock. It also operates an apprenticeship scheme. Retail staff are encouraged to up-sell, for example by offering a roll with soup, which Ogden says is very successful for them. She explains that she recently had a call from a mystery shopper who felt compelled to ring and tell them how good the service and products had been in the shop. The business also offers regular incentives to staff, and rewards for hitting sales targets. These include everything from a day at the races, to a week’s paid holiday.Future developmentFuture growth will come from the opening of new shops as well as the growth of its wholesale business, she says. “It is difficult when you’re faced with double-digit price increases, and we try to make economies where possible, but we would never threaten the company’s image, by using inferior ingredients,” emphasises Ogden. “We put our prices up in January this year, and we will review them again in October, which is what we normally do, so we’re not doing anything differently.”Ogden acknowledges that there is competition in the marketplace, but says, “We never let it bother us. We’ve got wonderful products, and we’re particular about the calibre of staff we have, as you have to have the best service as well. As long as you have those things, the customers will keep coming back.” The set-up The business currently has 59 shops, and a significant wholesale business around a 55/45 retail/wholesale split supplying virtually all the major supermarkets, including Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, The Co-op and Spar, and the foodservice sector through 3663, Brakes, Bako NW, BHS and Roadchef. It has a £25m turnover and approximately 975 employees 400 in the bakery and 575 on the retail side Popular products The bakery has many shops in the Bolton and Wigan area “the heartland of pies and pasties” and as far north as Cumbria. Its potato and meat pie is its top seller, with potato cakes, egg custards and scones among the most popular items. Ogden says healthy eating trends have not hindered the business at all, although it has been working to reduce salt in response to current market trends, and offers a range of multiseed and low-GI breads, for example. However, she says, you’ll never change the mentality of the workmen who want a pie for their lunch. Although traditional products remain very popular with its customers, Greenhalgh’s product development work is ongoing, and is key to the continuing success of the business, explains Ogden. “We’ve got some new filled paninis and low-GI sandwich rolls coming in, as well as some savoury muffins, salads and new sandwiches for summers.” On winning the award “Winning the award is not just a nicety, it is a prestigious accolade, which gives the firm a higher profile in the industry, and with our customer base. Our business philosophy is to do better today than yesterday. To market ourselves and our skills, creating a quality product and the correct atmosphere for it to be retailed in, is the ethos of our business. We have to do things better than the supermarkets; the customers know the difference, and there will always be a discerning market.” David Smart, production director, Greenhalgh’s Social media Greenhalgh’s has moved with the times and has embraced social media as a way to improve its profile, and increase its presence online. It has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog, and Ogden says the firm is currently developing its website to enable web ordering. Its website is already award-winning, she adds, after being voted ninth out of 500 retail websites, for compliance with regulations, functionality and speed. The bakery also raises it profile in the local community by doing presentations in schools and for local interest groups such as the WI and Age Concern. It also supports local charities and worthy causes.Comment from the sponsor “We chose Greenhalgh’s after much consideration as the other two finalists were also so “crafty”. We were impressed with the fact that craft skills are at the heart of what Greenhalgh’s do despite their great scale. Often, when businesses scale up, there is a compromise on quality in order to make the business efficient. Not so in this Bolton legend! Also they have an unerring need to innovate and this is also not typical of a large business and is great to see. So for managing scale, pace and quality there was no-one better than last year’s winner.”Sara Reid, marketing manager, Rank Hovis