Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Monthly archive for December 2013

New Year, New diet?

 

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas”  Source: Unknown

The good news for all Friends of Rex Bakery is that our Hand-Made artisan baked goods are lovingly crafted with only the best ingredients, organic wherever possible and nothing nasty added so plenty gained.  This means you can make your New Year diet Rex-based, as it will offer you the best that Nature & your local Artisan baker can provide.  Besides, what daily bread could be better for you than loaves slowly & carefully developed by the Rex Baker?

That said, many of you talk of cutting back this January and so are we.  We do plan to scale down our bake list to breads & sausage rolls only until our shop opens.

 New Year, New push to open the shop

Although the Rex Baker loves creating new baked delights, and is going to really miss making some of the Rex favourites such as Raspberry Benedict Bars, Almond Croissants, Pain au Raisin…. it’s an important step for the shop opening plans. Rex Artisan Bakery This reduced bake list will enable the Rex Baker to focus on getting the business ready to launch, instead of being consumed in the bakery for days prior to the weekly bake preparing & hand-making the whole Rex pop-up range.

We ask you to continue to confirm your Saturday orders to rexbakery@btinternet.com by Thursday evening at 9pm, and emails reminders will continue to come out to all Friends signed up to receive them.  This helps the Rex Baker still to plan right quantities and to hand-prepare the Sourdough starter, the pastry, the mixes and so on.  All good things take time…

The collection point will be outside the shop at 4 Chenies Parade on Saturday mornings through January, from 9 – 12, but if those times don’t work and you need to collect from our Little Chalfont home do let us know.  Good news for all those that miss that Thursday deadline – we still want to carry some extra loaves at the Pop up Point!!

We hope that this plan will mean the shop can open as early as possible in  2014 – so definitely Happy New Year from Rex Artisan Bakery to all of you 🙂

 

13 Hand-Made Tales to end ’13

Find the 2014 January Bake list here…. 

13 Hand-Made Tales to end 2013

In starting Rex Artisan Bakery, we’ve realised what a quagmire Food Labelling is.  This is not obvious to most people, nor what Rex means by Hand-Made the old-fashioned way by a local artisan baker.  So to celebrate the end of 2013, this lists 13 food preparation facts – legal & Rex – that you might not have known

1) Hand-Made by law
The Food Standards Agency says a product “must be significantly made by hand” to qualify as Hand-made.  So far, so good, right?  But it’s apparently also OK to produce “hand-made” “within an industrial setting” so there’s every chance much of the process is mechanised – “hand assembled” would often paint a fairer picture.

2) Hand-made Rex pastrypuff pastry, Rex artisan bakery, croissant dough
At Rex, hand-made croissants & sausage rolls don’t just mean hand-assembled with bought-in pastry as many people assume  (perish the thought!!) but literally that our pastry is hand-made by Rex, from scratch.  There are 24+ pastry layers made & turned by hand, with only the best ingredients, so good that maybe one day even Rex-made Puff Pastry will be available for sale….

3) Hand-made Rex mixed peel
The Rex Baker peels lemons, oranges & grapefruit himself and boils them 5 times separately then stews them in a glucose sugar syrup over several days to create his own mixed peel for Buns, Stollen, Mincemeat etc.  It’s not that he is being religious about producing hand-made… it’s just that he strongly believes this tastes better, like most hand-made items.

4) Hand-made Rex Multiseed with Honey
Most granary loaves in modern and in-store bakeries are made with “granary mix” – a blend of different flours, wheat grains for a nutty flavour, and indeterminate additives.  The Rex Bakery Multiseed loaf is instead hand-made from scratch.  20% of the loaf consists of oats, sunflower seeds & super-food linseeds which are soaked overnight in hot water & honey, which naturally enhances the moistness of the loaf & creates a very fine flavour.  This is then combined with a 70:30 organic white: wholemeal dough mix.

5) Hand-made Marzipan, and Almond Cream
Most patisseries and bakeries would buy theirs in and use them almost interchangeably.  But the Rex Baker separately hand-makes his marzipan (for the Stollen) with a lot of egg yolk, glucose, & golden syrup whereas his Almond Paste (for the Almond Croissants) is more butter & flour based.  He does this because he believes they are quite different & to be sure of the taste

6) Slow hand-reared Sourdough
Sourdoughs require a very special 3-day process including the constant nurturing of the Sourdough culture.  To get the right taste, this needs feeding & the right level of warmth and regular checking all by the loving Rex Baker himself.

7) Slow hand-made Breads
All Rex breads take at least 24 hours to properly ferment the flour. This is called a ‘Sponge’ and is the same process used back in the old days where a local baker would keep back some of his dough each day to put into the next day’s dough. He knew it gave him better flavour, as do only artisan bakers.

8) Time to mix Ciabattas
Nearly as much water is mixed into Ciabatta & Focaccia dough as ciabatta organic Very Strong white flour with ~14% protein, and it takes longer to mix than any other bread – as much as 30 minutes just to combine and obtain the big holey texture.  It’s so tricky that hardly any in-store bakeries seem to make on the premises, most will buy in from factories

9) Baguettes Fully Made not just Part-Baked
In France there is currently a backlash against the supermarket-style baguette which are delivered part-baked on an industrial scale with their tell-tale braille-like dots on the underbelly.  The hallmark of a good baker is considered to be the quality of their baguettes – which in turn depends on hand crafted care, time, temperature.

10) A strong hand in experimentation
The Rex Baker spends a LOT of time thinking about new products – reading, experimenting, testing, baking, refining – to provide new personally developed artisan ideas.  Recent examples which haven’t yet formally hit the bake list include an Apricot, white chocolate & marzipan Brioche, Poppyseed Stollen, Walnut & Linseed Loaf, Pork Pies, Malt Loaf…

11) Home-made by law?
The good news is that the Food Standards Agency insists that “home-made” should mean made not just assembled; by oneself; in the home or catering premises; simply, using traditional methods.  The bad news is that it’s deemed OK to use partly-prepared supplies that are available to anybody domestically in products that are described as home-made – eg “pre-prepared raw pastry“!!  If that wasn’t Rex-made it wouldn’t count as home-made in Rex Bakery, that’s for sure…

12) “Freshly baked” by law?
Terms like “freshly baked”, “baked in store”, “oven fresh”, “baked from scratch” and “artisan-like” can be really misleading – they can be used to describe what’s recently been baked somewhere – but was absolutely not freshly made by hand from raw materials, and not even necessarily on-site.  Sometimes big mixes like “soft roll mix No.2” are delivered to be diluted & baked in a store, sometimes part-baked pre-frozen products arrive to be baked-off in-store & sometimes they are baked elsewhere and just delivered for sale.   Rex Bakery will have its bakery kitchen on full view to the public so there will be no hiding, and baking will take place through the night on-site.

13) Nothing else added
The Rex Baker selects the very best ingredients he can source, organic where possible and nothing else added, so plenty gained.  He eschews the chemical preservatives & stabilisers you might find in many breads so that does mean that Rex baked goods last just as long as is natural – we believe this is right for taste, health, for knowing exactly what you & your family are eating.  This is different from the European Court of Justice.  Did you know they ruled that the description “naturally pure” was even OK for a strawberry jam with not just added pectin but also some lead, cadmium & 2 pesticides?!

For all these reasons it’s hard to trust food when you don’t know who is producing it for you.  Friends of Rex Bakery can trust & taste the love & personal care put into all Rex baked items.  So now you know 13 hand-crafted facts, don’t forget to put your Saturday orders in by Thursday at 9pm each week to rexbakery@btinternet.com

Find the 2014 January Bake list here…. 

xx

All the trimmings this Christmas – Rex Bread Sauce!

So we are moving into the final, exciting throes of preparations for Christmas!  Don’t you just love this time of year?  It can be a bit of a whirlwind of activity but somehow it all comes together & the really important things that matter – love, health, humanity, good food shared! – come to the forefront.  Rex Artisan Bakery has a very humble contribution to make to your successful season – our bake list to grace your dinner tables.

 Rex Bread Sauce

They say that Turkey needs its trimmings on Christmas Day, and one of the key sauces is of course a good Bread Sauce, a British historic culinary institution.  In turn, they say that a good Bread Sauce is contingent upon good bread, in fact BloomerArtisan organic bloomer has just been recommended by one top chef. Well at Rex we believe any of our white or Rex sourdough breads make beautiful Bread Sauce if you have the right recipe, and the Rex family firm favourite recipe is from top chef Mark Hicks, from when he was at the Ivy.  We want to share it with you to help you nail Christmas Day.  Delicious & super-easy made in advance & kept chilled in the fridge so you don’t even need to worry on Christmas morning about it.

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 large onion, peeled & halved
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves, 1 bay leaf, salt, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg,  Optional tiny pinch of ground clove or allspice.
  • 1 ltr milk .
  • 200g fresh white breadcrumbs – we remove crusts from any white Rex loaf & turn 200g to breadcrumbs in the magimix.

Very finely chop 1/2 the onion & fry it in 1/2 the butter until soft.  Stud the other 1/2 onion with the cloves, including anchoring the bay leaf with 1 of them.  Put the milk, nutmeg & studded onion into a pan with the cooked onion & bring it to the boil. Season & simmer for 30 mins.  Remove from the heat & leave for 30 mins to infuse. Remove & discard the studded onion.   Add the breadcrumbs & return the mix to a low heat, simmering for 15 mins with an occasional stir.  Pour 1/3 the bread sauce from the pan to the blender to process, then return to the pan & whisk in the remaining 50g butter.  Cover with cling film in a bowl & store in fridge until ready to use.  Can be served chilled or warm (Rex likes it room temperature..)

We really hope you give this a go & enjoy a special extra treat for your Christmas Day spread 🙂

All Rex wants for Christmas is…

All Rex wants for Christmas is…

…your support as it is keeping us going right now!!

Phew!  We kind of made it through a manic Small Business Saturday 7th December – our busiest & biggest bake so far!!  We want to sincerely thank all Rex friends, both existing and new, who put up with a rather chaotic order collection point & stall today.

A manic morning for Small Business Saturday

Right from the 1st blog entry, nearly 6 months ago now, we said that we would share with you the trials & tribulations as well as the triumphs of setting up a new Artisan Bakery business.

Well following a very hard day’s night, which started for the Rex Baker before many of you went to bed and was still going when his family got up the next morning, the volume of orders & baking planned to feed a hungry Little Chalfont community meant honestly we faced a few teething problems for the pop up point this week.  These included:

  1. sticky willie, sticky willy, iced bun, long iced bun, iced fingerMistakes in bag packing.  Baking was backed up so that some of the week’s most popular items (Sparkling Sticky Willies (left), Sausage Rolls, Multiseed etc) were not ready for packing into bags early enough.  We could only part-pick initially and inevitably, when we came to complete the bags, there was some confusion & a couple of inconvenient mistakes made for our dear Rex friends 🙁
    Once alerted, we re-audited all the bags at the pop-up point to double check remaining orders for collection were 100% accurate
    It’s a long time since we made bag packing mistakes, we have the picking & packing off to a tee normally now and are absolutely committed to Click & Collect option once the shop opens.  That’s because the Rex Baker can’t stand waiting in queues and would like that option himself if he was his own shopper!
  2. Limited slicing. Some of the loaves that required slicing for orders were baked up to 2 hours later than usual due to the volumes of all products being finished off, and so were still too warm when it came to slicing them for some orders. This caused the bread slicing machine to have a melt-down and we were unfortunately unable to supply all slicing requests 🙁
  3. Delayed pop-up point start time.  We had planned to pack up all the baked spares and take them with all orders down to the pop up point and be there, with a cleaned area & stall set-up from 8.30ish.  But given the ovens couldn’t cope with all the demand, at that time we were still baking!  We updated the blog & emailed all the order list to delay the timings, but it was actually even later again before we were there & ready to start passing out orders to waiting Rex friends and to serve those passing by.  What a kind, forgiving group our Rex friends are, thank you!!
  4. Salty balls!  The Rex Baker prepared a few special extras for the pop-up point customers including some chelsea buns/ currant whirls which he tops off with caster sugar – except that in the last minute melee they got mistakenly topped with sea salt  instead.  Very fortunately none of these were in pre-orders, and we only sold a few before a kind customer alerted us… but we don’t know who some of the other new Rex customers were that also bought them, so please, if that’s you & you’re reading this, do let us know here who you are as we are really really sorry & we promise to make amends to you!!

So a day that was not without its challenges, and showed us that the most important bakery developments are going to be… the new bigger ovens & more bakers to work with Rex !!

cute little girl eating bread, cute little girl eating a bunThat said, it was an absolute joy to see how warmly welcomed Rex Artisan Bakery is going to be in that location in the village; to meet & offer samples to so many wonderful customers, older & younger (left); for the Rex Baker to produce that much totally hand-made great tasting bread & buns (best ever ciabattas…) & to virtually sell out soon after Noon.

Thank you to all & now on to the Seasonal list!

Order, order!

 

Order, order!  Why should I order?

orders for Rex BakeyMost Friends of Rex Bakery do order, but we know that it’s difficult for many of you to make the Thursday night deadline a regular fixture, especially at this busy time of year.  We really hope to make Click & Collect work, as we do believe it will be a big help to you in a busy shop. It also does help the Rex the baker a lot, to plan the right quantities.  Most importantly there are big advantages to you:

1) You secure your favourite products.  A lot of  lines sell out at the pop up point, even when we make tons! Unfortunately it’s unpredictable and we don’t produce an unlimited supply from fresh  because we like to avoid crazy unsold wastage.  Whilst we love to donate a few leftovers, there is a limit to how much we can freeze for donation to Restore Hope 🙂

2) Quicker process.  When we see our Rex Bakery friends waiting to collect their orders, we try to get to them fastest.  We are planning a special Click & Collect point in the shop, because a queue is anathema to Rex the Baker himself!!

3) You can have your bread sliced to freeze. We do slice to order when requested, and provide these in plastic wrap bags ready for best lasting quality in freezing.  That could be very important on Friday 13th December to keep you going through til Christmas Eve when the Rex Bakery will next pop up.

4) You can always add to the order.  Actually most friends do  add to their regular order when they collect, so please don’t think you are restricted to what you selected on the bake list

5) The biggest & most beautiful go into the order bags 🙂  Whilst we never sell anything under par, everything is Rex-made from scratch so there can be slight variability.  We do want to provide our loyal Friends of Rex Bakery with the choice pick of the bake when we fulfill the orders.

6) You can customise your order to suit you.  Want an epi for a special dinner party in place of a regular baguette?  No Epi; baguetteproblem.  Wanted the Benedict bars pre-cut into halves?  Absolutely.  Needed the order ready 1st thing?  Of course.  Hoping for a special product not on this week’s bake list (like Spelt or Rye)? We will try to help.

 

7) we involve you.  We ask for loyal Friends’ feedback & adjust our products accordingly; from time to time we offer you new products to try for free; we share your opinions in our materials; we take your new product ideas really seriously

For all these reasons and more, calling your orders! Do email rexbakery@btinternet.com