Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Monthly archive for November 2013

How long is a piece of string? 6 issues

 

We loved the support & likes on our Facebook page when we confirmed that we now own what was Greystokes’ shop in Little Chalfont Parade ūüôā ¬†When we handed over orders on Saturday, many of you lovely ¬†Friends were congratulating us & asking when the shop would open as Rex Artisan Bakery. ¬†We know it will be in the new year, but calling exactly when is unfortunately like how long is a piece of a string – we’ll explain a little of what we’ve been through so far & what’s to come.

Why is the shop taking so long??!

We’ve been up & running <6 months, since Village Day mid-June. ¬†From then we started the weekend pop-up bakery and immediately started looking for permanent premises, trying to balance location with size (a lot of baking space is required). Err, and of course cost…. ¬†There aren’t the breaks you maybe would imagine for a new business start-up (unless you’re a charity shop or in just about any part of the UK bar Bucks), in fact it’s quite the reverse – it’s all scarily Rex artisan bakeryexpensive to us. ¬† Here’s 3 reasons it’s taken us many months to buy what we think is the right shop:

  1. Commercial property complexity
    Our solicitor (also called Rex! ¬†from ibb) called the buy his “most difficult in 30 years of this type of work”… ¬†We found 5 parties to consider in the contract – the owner, the current leaseholder, the management company for the parade, the flat owner & of course the Rex Baker. ¬†No wonder it took >4 months after the price was agreed – and inevitably the Rex Baker ended up having to take on the liability for most issues.
  2. Planning
    Whilst the shop of course comes with a trading licence, so that we can bake & sell as soon as we start, there are other restrictions which a planning consultant is helping us navigate. ¬†The shop will have seating for 15+ to enjoy coffee, soup at lunchtime, warm pies & the like and in time this will require a retrospective licence. ¬†We also want to change the shop front glazing. ¬†We’re in good company in the parade in seeking out permissions – locals will recall that Tesco’s opening was delayed for their air conditioning licence and Costa was turned down initially.
  3. Finance
    There are upfront one-off costs to buy all the ovens, retarders, refrigeration etc as well as actually refurbishing & styling the shop – it’s as expensive as creating several high end new kitchens all at once!
    We budgeted for that but at the last minute we had to ensure we weren’t charged 20% of the shop purchase price for VAT – whilst VAT is refundable, it’s a long slow process & would have wiped our shop refurbishment pot.

And 3 more that we still have to navigate before opening…

  1. Services
    Wall moving, soundproofing, heat exchange, electrics, plumbing (including a new disabled customer loo), plastering, glazing, signage, shelving, security, flooring, decorating… ¬†all on a shoestring/ mates’ rates (pretty please guys)/ DIY.
  2. Fixtures & fittings
    There is a leadtime to acquiring & steam-adjusting & fitting all the ovens & equipment that the Rex Baker needs. Most is identified but the order timing is sensitive because at the same time the pop up bakery units need to be moved from the Rex Baker’s home & installed in the shop – at which point Rex Bakery itself will be on hold whilst the change takes place, and we won’t be able to fulfill your orders for a while.
    In addition there is a wealth of new items to make it all a reality – from tills to coffee cups to shelves to lighting – all Rex artisan bakery bagare yet to be sourced & acquired. Fortunately we’ve learnt quite a lot about bags & the like in the meantime…
  3. Staff
    The Rex Baker can’t do it all himself. ¬†He needs additional bakers, barista & soup-makers & sales staff to make Rex Artisan Bakery a success. ¬†That means advertising, interviewing, hiring… and again timing is critical to make sure the right group of animated, committed baking passionistas will be trained & ready to join the Rex team just in time for the bakery launch.

So we are promise to work our socks off for this but please forgive us for not having a hard & fast date yet, we’re new to it all so aren’t quite sure how long it all takes ūüôā ¬†Any advice, please post in the comments, we love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Why we’re giving thanks, even before Thanksgiving week

It will be Thanksgiving in America on the 4th Thursday of November, but here at Rex Bakery we’re already feeling very thankful – for 3 reasons which we’ll explain.¬†¬†

Why we are thankful this week

1. we had our biggest week since Village Day! ¬† Being a sociable lot, many of you hosted weekend house parties sausage rolls, puff pastry, artisan baking(where was our invitation??) so there were lots of big orders plus we had a super-busy time at the Westwood Park Pop up Point where we sold out of sausage rolls, chocolate buns and olive ciabatta despite baking tray loads’ extra this week, see the picture left and also click on video below of Rex preparing the pain au raisin. ¬†Thank you to all Friends of Rex Bakery, this was great timing for you to reassure us that we really are serving a local need, because….

2. Yay, we can finally confirm that this week we are buying a shop in the parade in Little Chalfont, right near Tesco!¬† We know it’s the busiest part of the village, which we believe deserves an Artisan Bakery and so we hope to become a heart of the community in the new year.¬† Lots & lots to do to get ready, and it’s more than a little nerve-racking when its all so new to us plus super-complex & costly to navigate all the legalities, unfortunately. ¬†We might moan about that in a blog to come. ¬†But at least we will save the village from an empty shop eyesore or yet another charity shop, which was the most probable alternative outcome!¬† And it will be amazing to get going “for real”, so we will keep you posted on our progress as we will continue to really appreciate all your support in the months & years ahead.pain au raisin, cutting dough, artisan bakery, baking

3. we are delighted that we raised £15.75 for Children in Need by donating 1/2 of the special price of jam-spot Scandinavian School Buns last week.  Hope you all enjoyed them, thank you so much for your support for this important cause!!
We keep & deep freeze all Pop up Point leftovers each week and shortly will be arranging a trip to our friends at Restore Hope in Latimer to donate a bevy of Organic baguettes, Walnut & Linseed loaves and the like to needy local families.  So nice to do, makes us feel warm & fuzzy & most definitely thankful that fab organisations like that exist to help our community.

In Thanksgiving Americans traditionally enjoy Turkey followed by Pumpkin Pie. ¬†Rex Bakery won’t be joining in, but what we do know is that as soon as Thanksgiving is done, the States rushes towards Christmas! ¬†So we too are now thinking about ¬†festive specials & Rex Bakery pop up timings close to the Holidays.

Have a great week everyone xx

Please try me, I’m new around here!

Please try me, I’m new around here!

It’s interesting how new & quite different-sounding products go down so well from the “taster’s tray” at Westwood Park. ¬† ¬†All credit in particular to the local children, who are so up for trialling & offering feedback on the samples – they are so confident, sometimes they don’t even ask what they are trying as they tuck into Apple & Oats Sourdough, Scandinavian School Buns etc!¬†¬†

Brave in trying the new

At Rex Artisan Bakery we do like to present you with the best we can make, but importantly ¬†from a wide range of bakery inspirations. ¬†This definitely means lovingly recreating the Best of British, even the less well known – for example, a lot of customers point out & query our Rex organic bloomers, and just telling them that name isn’t so helpful. ¬†A bloomer is bloomer, organic white bloomer, rex bloomer, bloomer bread¬†an¬†oblong, rounded loaf of white bread, finished with a series of diagonal slashes on top – perhaps named after ladies’ bloomers given the shape!

Bloomers are thought to originate from London in 1939 during wartime rationing, restricting civilians to ¬†1 slice per diagonal slash (today we medium slice them vertically of course…) Decades later they were a favourite in the Rex Baker’s childhood local Kentish bakery and ours is made slowly from organic white dough, just a different shape to the traditional organic white tin but tastes & cuts for sandwiches etc exactly the same (& a lot better than a pair of bloomers :))

Rex is also inspired by the best of savoury & sweet bakery finds from further flung places- across Europe, America, Africa and even this week we heard about an exciting & popular Persian flatbread that we would like to recreate.  This geographical inspiration mix is evident from the sourdoughs, the viennoiserie, the ciabatta & focaccia & Benedict Bars featuring regularly in the bake list.  Customers often make great suggestions for what they would like to see, feel free to do so in the comments!

And of course the Rex ¬†Baker is inspired by bakers, chefs & writers like Dan Leppard, Jeffrey Hamelman, Michel Roux senior, Peter Gordon & Ottolenghi – trying hundreds of their recipes to develop his own. ¬† ¬†This is how he is perfecting Rex favourites like Raisin & Rosemary, Apricot with Fennel, Potato Sourdough and now Oats with Apple. ¬† ¬†If you are still not convinced to try some of these loaves because they do sound so untraditional, please know that there always samples you can come & try at Westwood Park. ¬†If there is something from the Bake List that you are nervous about & would like to try before you buy, just let us know & we’ll make sure we have some saved for you. ¬†Likewise if you buy & don’t like after trying – just let us know, we are only aiming to please!

By the way, if you are wondering, the Rex Baker did also try Paul Hollywood but found he’s had to use his baking knowledge to make the recipes work ūüôā ¬†Anybody else find them challenging?

Spots of Jam for Children in Need

children in need, spots children in need, spotty children in need

 

In this week of Children in Need, the Rex Bakery will celebrate the the on-theme jammy Spot on top of our new Scandinavian School Buns.  For each one added to your order, we plan to donate 1/2 the special price this week of £1.50 to Children in Need, which takes place on Friday 15th November.  Go on, give them a try!!

Who else ‚ô• at 2am??

Many people remark at the Rex Baker’s choice of new venture – to choose 2am (yes, 2 in the morning) – starts you have to love what are doing. ¬†After a hard day’s night, an array of baked Rex items are available for Saturday mornings

Passion & purpose at 2am

The Rex Baker used to work in the City.  But he always loved food Рfine dining as part of his professional life, getting inspired in Continental European family holiday destinations by the food ingredients and the way food matters there, learning great chef techniques & recreating a flow of stunning dishes at home.

And at some point, high Finance became less attractive for the well, finance, and more of a drag as the sector contracted, the commute took its toll & finally it dawned on the Rex Baker that the rather self-absorbed intangible business of making money out of betting on financial outcomes, was not his purpose in life.

They say it takes most of us a lifetime to figure out our purpose in life. ¬†Steve Jobs from Apple famously said “we’re here to put a dent in the universe. ¬†Otherwise why even be here?” ¬† ¬† The Rex Baker realised that¬†good food and bread dough, artisan baker at work, shaping dough, cutting doughdrink matter, that he wants very simple, very well made food all the time & that rather than wonder why there was no artisan bakery locally, how fulfilling to retrain & provide one himself.

To him, baking is¬†totally fascinating – the combination of rigid, almost scientific technique married with artisan creativity & constant experimentation. ¬†What’s more,¬†he finds he loves the physical, tangible nature of baking – both the manual challenge of working hard and creating a product he can see, touch, smell, taste & be proud of. ¬†There’s no going back to a desk job now, it’s all quite simple – yes, it involves early starts & is all-consuming, but¬†¬†it’s work ¬†that satisfies the Rex Baker and feels like a worthwhile exercise because he is not compromising in any way.

 

 

 

Rex sourdough, artisan sour dough, artisan loaf, Rex artisan bakery

Above all, it’s the best that he can make it , every single week – that’s what matters to him. ¬†And hopefully to you too – we hear wonderful feedback from our Rex Bakery friends & for success of the business it’s of course critical that you agree! ¬†What do you think? ¬†Let us know in the comments.