Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Yearly archive for 2014

Yeast and you – find out more for your body’s sake

Yeast and you – find out more for your body’s sake

A lot of lovely Friends of Rex tell us that their bodies are sensitive to what they eat. That they would like to eat food free from yeast, gluten, wheat.. because they worry that bread can cause them bloating, digestion & gastro-intestinal issues, weight problems and so on.

We were really excited to have Dr Sarah Schenker visit us at Rex Artisan Bakery this week!  Dr Schenker is a renowned British dietician & expert food writer who co-authored the 5:2 Fast Diet, and a Friend of Rex.  We asked her what she would recommend to our customers:

So we learn that it’s probably not yeast, gluten, wheat or bread per se that people’s bodies are sensitive to. Instead, it’s poorly fermented bread with unconverted gluten & unconverted flour starches that are hard to digest.

D0 you know why we even need Yeast in bread? The first answer that springs to mind, is that Yeast is what magically makes bread rise. But that’s just a useful side-benefit of Yeast. The real reason we need Yeast in bread is because if given enough time & the right conditions, Yeast naturally works on wheat flour to make it digestible.

So it’s not just what bakers use, but the way that they do it:

 Comparing: Rex sourdough Most chain bakery & supermarket bread
Flour: High quality organic, whole-milled flour so naturally occurring vitamins & mineral elements stay in the flour, no additives at all.  We choose Shipton Mill Often highly processed milling; bleached white; bred for extra gluten; with multiple additives & accelerators to make the dough rise artificially quickly & strongly
Dough development time: Slow – developed carefully over 3 days Fast – can be just a few hours to mix, bake & pack
What happens to flour Well fermented

  1. Wild yeast converts the flour starches to sugars
  2. Wild yeast feeds on the sugars, to lead to slow release of CO2 tiny bubbles and alcohols
  3. These react to rise the bread dough naturally
Poorly fermented –The additives in the flour artificially power the industrial yeast used, to rise dough quickly
Not enough time to convert the starches, they remain in the dough
What happens to gluten: Gluten proteins are thought to be denatured by the yeast Gluten proteins don’t have time to break down & are left in the dough
Bread’s impact on digestive system: Well fermented means naturally low GI, “good” bacteria, benign to the gut & bread crumb that’s easy to digest Poorly fermented can mean nutritionally void, high GI bread, hard to digest, may lead to bloating etc


In short, healthy bread just needs a healthy flour, water, salt, yeast…. and time.  Nothing else added to the flour or loaf, so plenty gained.

And besides… all good things take time and bread made this well just tastes delicious!

At award-winning Rex Artisan Bakery we specialise in sourdoughs and always have plenty of samples on offer, so if you’re not sure if it’s for you, stop by and try some.  We have many, many customers who come especially for our sourdoughs, delighted that they can eat bread again at last without any health repercussions.  So hope to see you soon!

Rex bread 5477

5 incredibly edible Rex ways for you to survive colder days

Did the UK miss out Autumn altogether this year?!
This week we seem to have gone from warm sunshine & smoothies… straight to plummeting temperatures!

To mark this time of year, Rex has been ringing in the changes. We like to do LOTS of new things as you may have noticed including some seasonal fun:

1. Spooky specials

a. Following the popularity of Twice Baked Hazelnut Croissants, we introduced Twice Baked Pain au Chocolat Bats. To make these, we made bat-shaped Pain au Chocolat, baked them, soaked them in syrup, baked them again & topped with icing sugar. These went down a storm!

b. We launched White chocolate coated home-made raspberry marshmallow on gingerbread – pointy teacakes that we called “Witches’ Hats”. Yum! If you enjoyed these, you might love the Hot Chocolate specials we will shortly launch all to be served with home-made marshmallow pieces.

2. Spain-inspired breads
Some of youpan gallego, spanish bread, spain bread, sourdough may have noticed we love our cross-cultural staff 🙂 Our new Spanish night baker, like all our staff, has brought some of his own country into the bakery. We love Spanish food generally and are interested to find out about some new-to-Britain flavour twists & styles of sourdough breads. For instance:
a. Enter Pan Gallego, which we bake on a Thursday & Saturday. This is a larger sized 600g thick crust sourdough with a little “button” on top that has be
come a firm favourite in the bakery since it was introduced. It’s a mainly white wheatflour bread with quite a lot of rye, with a high degree of water in the dough to give large ciabatta-style holes in the bread crumb. Like all our sourdoughs, it still takes 3 days to make but we divide & shape the loaves only in the last few hours, which is quite a different method to other Rex breads.

b. Or try Oat Groat, Sesame & Lemon with a touch of cinnamon which we 1st baked on Sunday – it even sounds Moorish as well as more-ish!
c. And we love the look & taste of new Crystal bread, truly a feat for the bakers. Handling the super hydrated dough is very tricky to do because of the virtually unheard of levels of water in the dough. The bakers stretch this dough into a thin long shape before letting the purposefully very large air bubbles form. See the lovely result being cut here

3. Soups
Now a proudly award winning baker, the Rex baker has long been a keen & expert cook. Having already salted beef, pulled pork, home-made pickles, mayonnaise & pesto for the Gourmet sandwich range.. it’s high time to move on to Rex-made stock-based Soup with the colder weather arriving this week.
Speciality soup served with Sourdough bread or Rex rolls already include Chicken & Chickpea; Minted garden Pea & Ham;

pea soupFennel, Rex-made harissa, Smoky bacon, tomato & chickpea; Cannelini bean & chorizo. Always a mixture of the exotic & the traditional, and all of them are planned to be delicious but it will be up to you. We will refine the soup menu depending on Rex customer feedback.

4. Savoury tarts & Pasties
Following on from our best selling Sausage Rolls, the Rex Baker has been version testing traditional local open pie recipes and our family’s firm favourite – Pasties with Rump Steak. Did you know that the vast majority of pies in Britain are eaten in the winter months, that they have had a resurgence since the last recession & are more popular than ever before, so that we will soon be consuming more than £1 billion worth each year? The Rex range will be special because we hand-make every element from pastry to filling preparation and everything in between. So dear lovely Friends of Rex Bakery watch this space, they’re coming very soon 🙂

5. Open all days!
With all this handmade baked food for you to try coming from our award winning bakery, it only seems right that we should open our cosy warm bakery/ coffee house to the community EVERY DAY. We opened Sunday in November for the 1st time which seemed to be very popular with Sunday shoppers, so we are planning 10.30 – 2.30 each Sunday from now on. And with more staff in place we now plan to open each & every Monday from next 10th November.
Hope to see you soon on one of these days very soon!

Sunday opening, Rex Artisan Bakery, Rex bakery little chalfont




Calling YOU – what does Little Chalfont want? Please support Rex…

Calling YOU – what does Little Chalfont want?  Please support Rex…

world bread awards


From highs to lows… the rollercoaster that is Rex continues…

The highs: this week we attended the Winners’ Dinner at the 2014 tiptree World Bread Awards in London 🙂

From over 400 entries we were named a Runner Up 2014 (losing out in the ciabatta category to the overall best bread winner) and won no fewer than SEVEN medals for our breads & buns! We are so proud & humbled that this made us the most awarded community bakery in Britain!

We won: Gold for our Baguettes and Two sorts of Ciabatta , Silver for a Sourdough and our Focaccia & Bronze for our Chocolate Buns & the new Sticky Toffee Apple Bun.

bronze medal, world bread awardssilver medal, world bread awardsgold medal, world bread awardsrunner up world bread awardsThe Rex Baker couldn’t have been happier – in the view of the 40+ top judges we are making some of the nation’s best bread.  That’s quite an accolade after just 6 months’ trading and somewhat makes up for those many long hard nights….

Naturally the Rex Baker was surprised and personally overwhelmed by this.  We think it endorses our Rex values.  We commit that we:

  • use ONLY organic flour in our breads
  • hand-make ourselves early each morning in our on-site working bakery
  • craft SLOWLY to fully & properly ferment our breads for the best health
  • use only the highest quality possible ingredients such as Callebaut Belgian chocolate, pure unsalted patisserie butter, Kalamata olives…
  • add absolutely no scary, unnatural “improvers” or preservatives

But in the rollercoaster of Rex Bakery, here we go again.  Having faced some really difficult problems since we bought the shop, we are now facing the biggest challenge of the lot.

The lows: We just learnt that  Wenzel’s the Bakers are opening up in Little Chalfont next to the butcher’s!  Wenzel’s are a Middlesex version of Gregg’s, have a factory in Watford supplying a chain of something like wenzels, wenzel's, bloomerwenzel's pastie, wenzels pastie, wenzel's pie filling, wenzels pie filling, mush30-40 shops and are aggressively expanding their brown and orange concept of value bread, soft-filled pies and subs.  Expect 4 rolls or a small white loaf for £1, meal deals and so on, all with “real bread” claims.

Yes they are mass production cheaper food advocates.. and we are the opposite with our focus on high quality & food provenance.  But we are sure they will take some custom from us and more concerning for our little community, bring very few new customers to Little Chalfont.

We fear some local businesses may well go from slight profit to unsustainable loss on the back of this and in simple terms, as residents we could well see more businesses failing and that means more charity shops and empty units. This is sadly what you can see in Chesham and other nearby high streets.

The question for you the consumer & local resident, is what do you want your habitat to be?  Now is the time to decide.  Is it a few High Street chain shops with a factory approach to food surrounded by empty units and charity shops?  Or small independents, who put our hearts & souls into providing high quality, award winning food for you?

sticky toffee apple bun, tarte tatinOur plea to you is simple.  Please support us, we are local like you!


We will see, the experiment is about to begin…

Pseu-dough? How the new supermarket bakery is bad news for you

Pseu-dough?  How the new supermarket bakery is bad news for you

Who has checked out the new rustic approach to our in-store hypermarket bakeries, including a certain local one?

It seems Britain’s biggest grocery retailers are scrapping their “scratch bakeries” (which made up brought-in mixes in machines on the premises & baked them in-store), laying off heaps of in-store bakers in the process, and have moved to transporting finished baked items and dough from a factory, then to be baked off instore. Now the focus is on store appearance – on creating an “artisan” look & feel.   This is all no doubt with the hope of increasing profits as well as trying to up their foodie image & cash in on a premium trend. Here’s why we think this is all really bad news for you:

Spurious claim #1:
“Award winning bakery”
Well yes, maybe that was true of an original artisan bakery brand back in the day,  but just buying rights to use a name doesn’t mean that then using that name across stores in the South East guarantees any quality.  Rex is a rare & grateful finalist in the World Bread Awardsworld bread awardsand we’re pretty sure that the new supermarket rye, “multigrain” and baguette samples we tried aren’t going to win real bread awards anytime soon. Word is, there’s real quality issues right across the new baked range…

Spurious claim #2:
“artisan bakers ready to compete on the world’s stage”
Again, no doubt true of original London independent bakery employees but just can’t be true of the new hypermarket staff, or indeed those in the central factory operation.  We have had job applications from real bakers who couldn’t stomach the “fast food” machine efficiency mentality they were asked to work with to roll out this new range to our hypermarkets…

Spurious claim #3:
“Great value proper bread & cakes”
Hmm.  We noted £1.80 for a croissant, £2.90 for a small tin loaf, £3.50 for a plain ciabatta, £1.80 for a wizened-looking scone… wowzer.  Even if you “buy” that the bread & cakes are indeed “proper”, these are certainly eye-watering prices for out of London.  We feel that Rex is missing out on a price revolution!

Spurious claim #4:
“Fresh thinking”
In our local hypermarket, you walk past the open (too open?  Hope nobody manhandled those loaves before you!) layout of some highly priced open-display new baked items… & find yourself in front of the same old, same old.  4 muffins for £1.50, jumbo packs of soft mix rolls, bargain bloomers etc etc.  Difficult to spot the new thinking back here! New Project name, new decor but not a lot more??

Spurious claim #5:
“without love & affection, our dough would only contain flour, water, yeast & a pinch of salt”  
Is this pseu-dough at its best?  Its not just about WHAT goes into real bread (though Rex is obsessive about the highest quality ingredients possible such as best organic flour across our bread range and top patisserie butter in our viennoiserie)

patisserie butterbut also HOW bread is made.  The best in texture, taste & health comes from long slow traditional careful hand crafting techniques to ensure full fermentation before the bread hits your tummy.     Beware bloating from poorly fermented, rushed factory bread…

Spurious claim #6
“Good, better, bread” 
Well, strictly speaking there’s nothing being claimed here – just the intimation of supremacy via a nice play on words.  But at Rex we believe good always outs – good will prevail.  Given how discerning our Friends are, let’s leave it to the purchasing public to decide if the new rustic looking super-premium priced approach to supermarket bread & baked items is the best option to bread…. or not.


We’ve blogged before about what it really takes to be an artisan – and we like the definition referring to a high quality, hand making craftsman.  But today we’ll finish with a really lovely mission statement by an artisan – has crossovers with the Rex Baker values.  And such a far cry from the hypermarket factory “only in name” pseu-dough approach emerging in our groceries today 🙁

“A kind of personal integrity that can be confused with eccentricity: ‘however strange it may seem to you, this is the way I do things’.

Pride without arrogance: a sincere belief in the excellence of their work.

Humility and steadfastness: the ability to light the wood stove, milk the ewes, coax the bees out of their hives – quietly, without pretence – day after day, year after year.

The belief that their work is not a means to something else, but one of the ways to give meaning to their lives.

Genius: the brilliance that comes to those driven by their personal vision rather than by a desire for success, money or fame.

Generosity: they have no secrets. If you appreciate what they do, they’ll tell you everything they know … and usually set a place for you at their table.”

 Come & try the authentic #realbread approach to real artisan baking here at Rex next week instead xx rex bread display

Do you know the top 3 Foodie trends headed this way from North America?

Do you know the top 3 Foodie trends headed this way from North America?

We’re BACK following our 2 week summer ’14 shutdown, oh lovely Friends of Rex!   We were in the Vancouver area of Canada & have spotted lots of bakery-relevant trends, opportunities…. And ironies to think about.  Here’s 3 we expect to hit Little Chalfont…

1. Gluten-free

“Free from” claims are being made EVERYWHERE alongside Organic, Natural, Wholefoods as if gluten is something Nasty to now avoid.

gluten free, free from, wheat free

In fact only a tiny proportion of the population actually has a gluten allergy, whilst most of us are just reacting to poorly fermented fast-bread & bakes.  We ALWAYS recommend Rex Sourdough first for those concerned with Health, because it has been developed care-fully & slow-ly by hand to ensure a full 3-day fermentation of the live culture before it hits your tummy.  Read here how Rex Sourdough WITH gluten in its organic flours is a naturally low GI, health bread…

Given the “free from” trend, we expect our wheat-free alternatives like Hazelnut Chocolate Brownies, Granola Bars, Light Rye and Spelt Loaves to become increasingly fashionable…  especially the sourdough loaves!

wheat free. rye, light rye, rye with caraway, rye boule






2. Timbits & sweet treats

Oh the irony.  At the same time as we see Gluten-free as a health claim, on every single Canadian intersection you will see a Tim Hortons, a DQ (Dairy Queen) and an A&W (root beer & burgers).  Tim Hortons specialises in doughnuts & hot drinks, and has just been acquired by Burger King.  Its Timbits are considered an essential feature of any big-Canada road trip, they are the balls from the centre of ring doughnuts & come in many different flavours.  Watch out, arteries!

Timbits, Tim Hortons, doughnuts, doughnut balls, doughnut centres, doughnut centers

We visited loads of bakeries… which weren’t!  Even when Bakery was in their shop name, they in fact sold coffee & sweet pastries and NO bread?!  As an artisan bakehouse we like to think they are missing a trick.  However, we were interested that some were chocolatier specialists (we liked their mini brownie bites), others displayed mainly viennoiserie especially chocolate croissants, and many specialised in large sweet gateaux for sale in slices or as whole cakes.   Canadians seem to like to get their sweet hits from their bakeries and the choice is inspiring!    Expect more new indulgent products in Rex very soon…




3. Coffee & tea

The breadth of coffee choice goes from Starbucks on every block, to that undrinkable black stew found all day in a heated coffee pot in diners… and in-between these extremes, this Coast is of course where real coffee cafe culture with latte art originally developed.  There are many, many places to buy coffee literally everywhere; and everybody seems to be carrying a take-out cup at all times.  Little Chalfont has a long way to go because Vancouver coffee consumption levels are double ours – even though it was honestly quite hard to find extremely tasty coffee like our delicious Monmouth!

Tea is hot, hot, hot in North America!  World teas are so much more popular & fast growing in Canada than here – perhaps because theirs is a relatively young culture melted together from so many immigrant settlers in the last century or so, each with their own strong tea traditions.   This is a part of the world that likes to experiment with food cuisine, and world teas & new innovations are on poster ads everywhere.

For example, we came across London Fog – a combination of Earl Grey, frothy milk and vanilla syrup (ok, that risks being a bit yuk & chemical).  This tea latte was apparently invented in Vancouver and has been in Starbucks since 2004.  At Rex, as well as our Monmouth coffee & excellent hot chocolate, we do sell a wide range of world teas.

Rex tea pot

All these trends could make us thirsty – so we are planning to start a hot drinks loyalty card scheme soon.  We do hope our world teas  will be chosen by friends of Rex as part of that!

Thanks for coming back to us after the shut-down, and see you soon xx

3 Trials & tribulations of being a start-up

3 Trials & tribulations of being a start-up


As well as hearing of our summer business success, we bet you’re also interested in the business pitfalls we’re suffering – you’re only human!  So here’s 3 recent ones for you:

1) Staff

As blog readers will know, we sadly lost Neil our night baker recently, and unfortunately we are still on the search for his replacement.  If you are a baker reading this, please check out our ad here! It’s also been all change for our baristas. Some changes were planned & temporary but others were out of the blue, underhand & frankly left us in the lurch big time.  bell-air couriers patisserie fridgeWhilst we’re in a great place with all the lovely new staff through the summer & beyond, there wasn’t a way to keep the shop going in our absence this August unfortunately.

2. original Patisserie fridge value lost

Some friends may recall that when we were trying hard to finish the shop refit as fast as possible, we ran into some difficulties with a courier company who claimed their van was in a crash & that our new patisserie fridge was a write-off.   That featured in another less than cheery blog!
There is no such thing as a quick win in these matters – after months of dodging various slippery courier red herrings such as promises of insurance company resolution, we resorted to starting County Court Judgement debt recovery process.  This includes formally instructing these cowboys that they have a further 28 days to refund you (otherwise the courts may decide you didn’t try hard enough to deal with it upfront).   Guess what? The day after “Bell-Air Couriers” would have received our pre-court notice, they filed for bankruptcy.  Sigh.  We’re probably in a long queue to nowhere amongst many others to sort that one…

3. Am I fake or not?

We have only been offered a handful of £50 notes in Rex since we opened.  Unfortunately this note came into our shop recently, when the shop staff were bullied into accepting it in payment.  It even scans fine with the ultraviolet 50 coming up – but really is an enhanced colour photocopy when you look very closely.

The good news is that we have plenty of CCTV footage and a good description of the offender.  And there were some lovely supportive comments on Facebook

The bad news is

  • we have criminals visiting Little Chalfont!!
  • we won’t be accepting ANY £50 notes from now on.  The same will go for other unfamiliar notes such as Scottish £20 notes.  Sorry, but this is the new policy even if we know you really well – hope you can understand.
  • The police couldn’t give a flying fig – they don’t even record this as a crime because it isn’t part of a major haul.
  • the Bank of England wash their hands, there is no replacement or compensation scheme even for a small trader.
  • It takes a lot of baguette sales to make up a £50 profit loss sadly…. 🙁

Hey ho, you live & learn and we won’t be doing THAT again

So we want to thank you for your continued support, it’s very important and keeps us optimistic and smiling in these mixed early days!

Have a great summer & don’t forget to stock up before we shut up shop…

sandwich tin, long loaf, white


How to drink well – both Hot & Cold

How to drink well – both Hot & Cold

Thank you to the many of you who have responded to the obituary I wrote concerning Neil  Angear. We  miss him a great deal but of course it is his family who our thoughts are with and we hope to meet them this week at his funeral.

For the past couple of weeks, I have slipped into his role, up at 12.30am to work the night shift and I can confirm he worked very hard indeed.  8 hours of non-stop work with sourdoughs to bake first, made the previous day, then moving through the 10 doughs made with a pre-ferment from mixing, fermentation in bulk, dividing & shaping , to then scoring the dough, getting it into the oven which can be tricky on a long wooden peel, steaming the dough just the right amount to get a good burst where you’ve cut the dough, baking at the right temperature & getting the steam out at the right time so you the customer also have a nice crust and colour….

Even then it’s not finished as we make the sourdoughs for baking the next day, make the soakers we add to tomorrow’s dough & mix a big pot of pre-ferment ( we call a sponge) which goes in small bits into all of tomorrow’s doughs. It’s tricky even on a week day when we bake less.

Anyway, we have to move on reluctantly, but that doesn’t mean we forget or do not appreciate the part Neil played.

So what else can we share with you this week about developments at Rex Bakery?

How to drink well – both Hot & Cold

What could Rex Bakery possibly have to say about drinks?!  Well, as you would expect we have sourced some of the best produce we think you can find in Southern England for you, our dear Friends of Rex.

Many of you may be familiar with our Monmouth Coffee, but more about that later.  It’s ice-cold drinks we need in the summer:

We have a whole host of Belvoir lightly sparkling Presse drinks, local Lemonade from Penn based We Made Lemonade and now NEW our real fruit smoothies made with frozen fresh fruit , bio-yoghurt & apple juice.

Strawberry banana smoothieWe have gone for 4 flavours which are all delicious:

Strawberry & Banana
Mango, Pineapple & Peach
Pineapple Banana & Strawberry
Mango & Raspberry

Importantly,  the yoghurt & fruit are blended in front of you from frozen, so you know you are not buying a bucket of ice with artificial “flavoured” syrups here.  Just a cool delicious, flavoursome & fruit-packed healthy drink.  100g of fruit in each drink so that must be at least 1 ½ to 2 of your 5 a day!

And oh goodness! The feedback from early triallists has been AMAZING!


Our coffee –

Monmouth artisan Coffee from Monmouth Street , Covent Garden paired  with a  local farmers Guernsey milk.

We have selected Monmouth coffee, widely acclaimed as the best artisan coffee in London and from probably the oldest London artisan coffee house.  Why?

There’s thought to be 3 critical aspects to an amazing cup of artisan coffee:

  1. Great beans roasted to unleash their potential

Monmouth specialises in the highest quality beans directly & personally sourced from single farms, estates & cooperatives around the coffee-growing world.  Monmouth sets itself daunting standards for quality & trading that just sit so well with Rex. Every week they provide us with their Espresso Blend which is their standard and we are very happy it’s ours too.

  1. Freshly roasted, ground & made

Rex coffee cup1st we grind the beans freshly when you order your drink, then within  a few seconds we are percolating the coffee so that it doesn’t burn dry waiting for the hot water to be forced through.  We look to achieve a vortex when heating the milk, so it stretches the proteins , sweetens the milk & gives a creamier mouth-feel plus a sensible amount of foam to sit on top. Watch how here

Guernsey cow milk is  richer than other British Cows milk because they produce less of it. It is no fattier – just richer. Plus our farmer, D J Lacey doesn’t homogenise the milk, which means sometimes the cream rise to the top a bit like we used 20 years ago – that’s a good thing! Our milk is totally  delicious, making us one of the very few coffee houses that care as much as about the milk as the coffee.  Makes sense surely….

  1.  Barista who cares

Not everyone working in Rex Bakery is even allowed to make coffee!  Some of our staff were brought in as experts, some others have extra-training by Monmouth, some are learning under close-supervision.  What all do have in common is that they are aiming for coffee-gold & do really care about you.  We know you can stop many places for your coffee, so we want you to feel good enough about Rex to make the trip specially to us.  You choose – excellent coffee to go or take your time enjoying it – we do love to chat with you about the breads & samples, all that is Rex and most importantly YOU.

Teas of the world

Our Rex favourite is Twinings Assam but we offer many more including English Breakfast, mint, chai….  Best of all we serve our drink-in cup tea-leaves in a beautiful self-sealing teabag!

tea, teabag

So – drinks really do matter in Rex Bakery.  Whether you’re thirsty or hungry – we welcome you to come & try our best artisan range 🙂

See you soon!

Life & death – RIP Neil Angear, Night baker at Rex

Life & death – RIP Neil Angear, Night baker at Rex

This week’s blog is not about baking, new products  or the trials and tribulations of setting up Rex Bakery Ltd.

Neil AngearInstead this blog will address the subject of life & death.  We are shocked and saddened to have just lost a key employee and friend, Neil Angear, who passed away suddenly over the weekend.  I want to share the little of his life that I experienced and what I learned of the man, over the five months I knew Neil .

When we met in February, he had been 3 years out of work, a casualty of the economic downturn. A man approaching 50, dispensed with because he was a bit too resistant to change, too expensive & too old for the modern highly mechanised fast bakery world.

I knew I had found a diamond after just a couple of hours with him.  He travelled from Oxhey that night , the other side of Watford, to come bake in my garage at 1am one cold February night.  As he was an epileptic  he had to travel by public transport & came 2 hours early and sat in the Sugar Loaves Pub, drinking water,  until they kicked him out, just so he wouldn’t be late.  He sat on my doorstep for an hour in the cold, not wanting to wake me up.

I knew straight away I had met somebody who could help me build Rex Bakery.  Clearly a selfless and considerate man, but Neil also had the experience, know-how & drive to be a key part of my team.

You have to love being a baker.

Just consider the nocturnal existence – going to bed at 5pm to start work at 1am. It affects everything around you. Your family & friends never see you & when they do on a Saturday, you are largely trying to recover from the exertions and lack of sleep from the week before.  You need total commitment – it’s much easier not to do it

It is also a very physical job,  lifting 25kg sacks endlessly, cutting & manipulating doughs of significant weight, shuttling all the bread doughs in and out of ovens by hand on a wooden board and of course the tremendous heat, four very large ovens at 250c, some 50cm from you for most of the time you are working.

Neil in Rex BakeryIt is very hard existence and something most of us who have had a professional working life have never experienced. Real graft, making things, trying to get them better every day, trying to adjust for the ever changing vagaries of how a dough is reacting to that particular day’s environment. Trying to get the finish right, to get all the breads through the ovens at the right moment, so nothing is over or under proved.

It is demanding ,very hard work back there in the bakery.  It is a true skill, a labour of love, one that is largely undervalued in our modern world and Neil embraced that life.

I think baking  had made things difficult in his past, being a contributing factor in the end of his marriage, as had his passion for Chelsea FC.

Until he lost his job, Neil had long been a season ticket holder, a regular supporter both home and away, in Britain and Europe.  He felt a deep affinity with Chelsea FC and the band of brothers he followed with Stamford Bridge . He was a true supporter, not an armchair fan like me.  Just last week, he caught me a little by surprise with his genuine rage over the latest Luis Suarez biting incident, and I realised it really boiled down to the last attack by Suarez on a Chelsea player, a season or so ago. He really felt that Chelsea were his family.

I know also that Neil loved his real family deeply as well, who were all from North London and he kept in weekly contact with them all.  Our sincere sympathies are with them at this very sad time.

For Caroline & me, Neil was the backbone of our new business and we relied on him greatly.  He was fun to work with & gently ribbed me & our team, which made the bakery a happy place to work.

I will miss him a great deal and I cannot believe this has happened. We were celebrating his 50th birthday only a few weeks ago so how can this be?

Neil, you are sorely missed, rest in peace.


Happy Birthday Rex! 3 big steps in the last year

At Little Chalfont Village Day 2104, we couldn’t help but reflect on “this time last year

Whilst Rex Artisan Bakery has been open at No. 4 Chenies Parade for 2 months, we actually launched at 2013 Little Chalfont Village Day about 1 year ago!

village day, rex bakery pop up

1. Village Day 2013 launch

Having trained, apprenticed & practised for ages beforehand, the Rex Baker worked tirelessly for days with hardly any sleep, in preparation for the “public launch” of Rex.  There were some disasters for sure :

  • Power.  The surge in our home working bakery usage caused an outage during the bake, and we had to emergency contact our expert electrician & good friend Matt to save the day (or in fact night…)
  • Equipment. Our stone trays to get the right level of heat & browning couldn’t cope & cracked!
  • Late start.  with >100 loaves & dizzying array of buns, tarts, viennoiserie to prepare & transfer, the Rex Baker had barely set up the marquee & table by 12 Noon, the start.  We squeezed filled trays into a 2 seater car as well as the family estate car to make the 1/2 mile trip, but managed to leave price tags, cash float, bags at home… and we had customers from the get go!
  • Weather. The heavens opened & there was so much rain that Villagers got drenched unless they hid under our marquee – which of course itself was beginning to leak.

So especially once the rain came pouring down on the morning of this year’s Village Day, we were spirited back to a year ago!

We virtually sold out that day a year ago, and although it was so so hard, we had done it!!

2. Rex bakery weekly pop-up

The amazing response from the Village encouraged us to start a weekly Rex  pop-up from then on, baking to order with the encouragement of the wonderful community and always providing a few extras for sale.  We started this regular blog, a “Friends of Rex Bakery” email list (please join us here) and a Facebook page.  All of this provided us with great insight as to what everyone wanted from Rex, and a way to try lots & lots of new products.  Some of these have become Rex signature products as a result of incredibly useful feedback.  We wouldn’t have got so far in the past year without:

  • Little Chalfont Primary School.  As school parents ourselves, the support of parents & staff across all the classes has been a huge help.  We like to donate gift boxes & freebies for the School fundraising events in Thanks 🙂
  • Sausage roll perfection. Rex sausage rolls were inspired by the Rex Baker’s own mum’s recipe and have always been super-popular with our Friends.  Today we sometimes feel like a sausage roll factory, making literally hundreds of them!  In the early days we did spend an inordinate amount of time getting them just right
  • Pam from Eat Inn.  Right from the beginning Pam kindly supported us popping up outside her old cafe, which was perfect for starting to raise our profile in the village and a handy place for folks to stop & collect their orders.  That was great during the summer & early autumn months.
  • Sourdough rotation.  To accompany regular Rex Sourdough, we began to experiment with, introduce & rotate new specialty sourdoughs ever since Sourdough September.  Now our sourdoughs outsell our tinned breads, and people are travelling from far & wide to buy hand-made delicious sourdough like our Raisin & Rosemary loaf.
  • Rex Bakery orders, Rex bagsMerc Estate car Delivery. Each Saturday the Rex Baker’s wife would load up the ginormous family car boot with trays piled high to deliver some orders to local Friends’ homes followed by setting up the pop-up.  This worked brilliantly on Christmas Eve to deliver piles of festive Stollens, like playing Mrs Santa!
  • Westwood Park Football Club.  The Rex Baker was an U7 coach before 3am Saturday bakes took over, and the support of the footballers & parents from our fantastic local club has been really important.  We regularly popped up in the car park through autumn & winter to deliver orders & sell vast quantities of iced pain au raisin to hungry players!
  • Malt loaf etc experimentation.  It took the Rex Baker 10 versions before he had perfected a hand-made, organic & preservative-free version of a Soreen Malt Loaf.  There was also variation with other base products to get to Eccles Cakes, Lemon Fudge Streusel Bar etc.  It was fantastic to see response to these at the weekly Pop-up!

So the many months’ real experience gained prior to opening  at No. 4 Chenies Parade were very important for laying the foundations to Rex Bakery today.

3. Reality of the shop

It took a while to find precisely the right location & size for shop AND bakery in Little Chalfont.
Rex Bakery, window from shop into bakeryIt then took a while to convince the previous owners to sell to us as rents were exorbitant.
And an age to process a very complex commercial transaction.
Finally it took really forever to fit out the buildings, power, equipment, decor, find staff…..  Again we couldn’t have got there without a tremendous amount of help from everyone who helped us practically & emotionally in that time, you know who you all are 🙂

At last we opened our doors on the last Saturday in March and have been growing our profile ever since, with new Friends coming because they heard about:

  • the new bakery in Little Chalfont and wanted to give us a try
  • delicious hand-made bread from friends, neighbours, colleagues word-of-mouth and wanted to try it for themselves
  • sourdoughs & rye breads & ciabattas – hard to source hand-made locally
  • our Monmouth coffee, probably the oldest artisan coffee house & thought of as “the best artisan coffee in London”

Given the “Available” sign 1st went up on Village Day 2013 at No. 4 Chenies Parade, it took 40 weeks until opening, the same gestation as a baby!!  And what a journey we have been on.

Rex birthday cakeTo mark it (oh, and the Rex Baker’s actual birthday ironically) our lovely friend of Rex Bakery Tara Botwright made this fabulous cake!   If you need celebration cakes for your birthday we strongly recommend her amazing tasting & looking cakes so do get in contact with her here or by calling  Tara on 07568 312165


New diet news – How to have your bread & eat it too

New diet news – How to have your bread & eat it too

A lot of lovely customers ask us about gluten-free.  Or avoiding wheat/ eating spelt as an alternative.  Or using low GI flours.  Some even say they have to avoid bread because they’re watching their weight.

“There’s an urban myth that if you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t eat bread”

Source: 2008: Professor Terry Graham, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, a human health & nutritional sciences researcher who has now published clinical findings into the effects of different breads on blood sugar & insulin levels.

It’s both no surprise to us & a relief to establish that there IS growing scientific evidence that not all breads are the same – it’s what ingredients the baker uses  AND the way he uses them that determines whether you are eating healthy Bread.

round raisin & rosemaryClinical studies have proven that what’s most beneficial is….. tra la la la….Sourdough. 

“The subjects, who were overweight and ranged between 50 and 60 years of age, showed the most positive body responses after eating sourdough white bread..

“With the sourdough, the subjects’ blood sugar levels were lower for a similar rise in blood insulin,” said Graham

The measurement of the impact of food on your blood sugar is called the Glycemic Index – GI.  This obviously means that Sourdoughs are naturally “Low GI”.  We would never use low GI flours or “sour flavours” which are commercially available, as we don’t like the scary implications of altered flours, but hey presto!  We have the natural GI diet solution for you, in our Sourdoughs.

The clinical findings are so convincing for more serious conditions that the American Diabetes Association positively recommends real bread like Sourdough to help prevent  those with Type II from blood glucose spiking.   Who would have thought just your daily bread could have such a dramatic impact on your body’s gut reaction (literally)?  Clearly not all breads are made equal.

It’s thought that handmade Sourdough really is the healthiest bread because of the verrrr-yyyy lonnn-gggg slow ferment, positively altering the flour’s starches into digestible sugars.  Certainly the time & love & labour that goes into a Sourdough is what makes it our most premium priced bread (though let’s face it, still costing you about the price of a coffee).  Rex Bakery sourdough takes at least 3 days to make,  relies on a homemade sourdough starter originally derived from local  honey and that’s constantly fed & nurtured by the Rex Baker; and the very best organic flour with absolutely no additives.  The Rex Baker has even been known to take his Sourdough starter on holiday with him to nurture it, and goes in to the bakery late at night & on “closed days” to work the Sourdoughs.   No corner-cutting mixes here!   All our loaves take at least a day or 2 but Sourdough takes the very longest to develop.

artisan bread, sourdough, banneton, doughThat’s why it’s thought there’s no more fermenting, bubbling, expanding having to go on in your own tummy, because it all happened naturally in the days beforehand.  The digestive effect of slowly made real Sourdough is so benign that the researchers found it doesn’t even impact your blood sugar.  This world of difference in what bread you eat has been likened to eating a raw hard green tomato versus a vine-ripened & sun-ready tomato.

No wonder factory-fast breads are associated with bloating & weight gain, forcing some people to believe the culprit is any wheat or any bread.

Maybe even more importantly than being the healthiest option….  We like eating Sourdoughs! We plan the signature Rex sourdoughs to just. taste. delicious.!!!  We regularly rotate them but here’s our typical menu:

Daily: “regular” Rex sourdough
Saturday: Oat, Groat & Sesame; Raisin & Rosemary; Poppy & Pumpkin Seed; Pain au Levain
Weekday rotation: 3 Grain Levain, Potato, Walnut; Oat & Apple

We also make Rye, and Spelt breads.    These are the obvious alternatives to Wheat if you know you cannot digest that but could consume gluten – or just love Rye or spelt loaves as so many customers do!
Did anybody try them all yet?  We often have tasters, please ask if you would like to try something new to you.

None of our breads can be Gluten-free for the approximately 1% of the population who are confirmed Coeliacs/ gluten-intolerants because we cannot guarantee no gluten particles in the bakery atmosphere, unfortunately.  So sorry 🙁

Rex sourdough, sourdough breadWe love that Little Chalfont has taken so to Sourdoughs, we normally sell out of these fabulous loaves before the organic Sandwich tin loaves & get incredible feedback from all you Sourdough-heads out there:

Rex Sourdough – This was most excellent
Loved … the Sour Dough
“Hiii guys that potato sourdough was sooo good the best so far for me”

So if you are watching your weight, diabetic, worried about bread-bloating or trying a low GI diet – the good news is that Sourdoughs are clinically proven to be better for you.  Oh, and seriously yummy 🙂

Have a great week!

How to avoid the Great British Fake-off!

How to avoid the Great British Fake-off!

We had our best & biggest week since we opened – Thank You!


We think:

  1. Many Rex Friends come back regularly, for more.  Hooray!!
  2.  It’s back to work/ school after the Easter holidays, so lots more traffic
  3. Others are spreading the word and every day new people visit thanks to a recommendation
  4. But we also think that the refit of Tesco might have brought in some extra people this week, looking for their lunch!

Rex Artisan bakery, rex bakery, rex sausage rolls, sausage rollsWe love that our shop is near Tesco – let’s face it nearly all of us in Little Chalfont do shop there & that means a lot of footfall in our parade, all the time.  Many newbies to Rex seemed excited with what they found & we hope they become new Friends after their visit.  But without a doubt a few baulked at the prices of say a Rex Croissant or a Sausage Roll compared to their usual supermarket experience, that they were looking for something more Value.

For them, that seems to mean value in price, not value in product.

Rex Artisan Bakery is passionate about the product.  The Rex Baker started the business because he couldn’t find the best in food that he wanted to buy & eat – and envisioned that if he made the very best – the best ingredients, the best methods, for the best taste – then others like him would want to buy it too.   But he didn’t want some kind of exclusive fine dining club – it needed to be what everyone has access to & could afford daily and baking fits the bill perfectly.  Besides, he’s always loved good bread 🙂

Indeed our Sausage Rolls are a great torture test versus anything else on the market.  Ours have a hand-made puff pastry with the highest regarded Shipton Mill organic white flour which of course contains absolutely no corner-cutting our butteradditives.  We purely use the very best French patisserie butter because it has a very low water content which makes the best pastry – and then we work it, by hand & with the greatest care & attention, until it’s ready to roll.  The highest quality & delicious tasting sausagemeat was chosen as the best in the region after an exhaustive selection process.  It forms the basis for our secret recipe including added onion & herbs to recreate a food memory from the Rex Baker’s childhood, inspired by  the sausage rolls the Rex Baker’s own mum used to make.

Compare the care in Rex with the dubious packaged thing you could buy cut-price elsewhere – questionable quality, taste & texture of “sausagemeat” filling in a possibly hydrogenated fat “pastry” – mass-made by machines not a baker.  That feels more designed for profit than to delight the taste buds & the body.  Thinking of the contrast, we maybe don’t charge enough for our Sausage Rolls!!

Yet you will see some huge claims out there, some of which we’ve blogged out before.  Amongst the most misleading is the commonly used “Freshly baked” description.  It sounds so nice, yet this smoke & mirrors approach to pretending it’s real bread has been dubbed the Great British Fake-off.  In reality, a huge consignment of products mass-produced on a factory line somewhere far off & frozen some time ago are shipped in for reheating & “tanning” in an in-store oven.  Or a scary chemical cocktail mix (“just add water”) requiring really no skill or attention is used to balloon into various items to bake & sell as “freshly made in-store”.  And whilst what’s on sale might seem on 1st take to be higher value products because they look & smell just-cooked, these “bake offs” probably have the same questionable approach to pastry & sausagemeat at heart.  That’s not offering the best possible product value so wouldn’t come anywhere near to the Rex Bakery standard.

rex bread displayWe are so confident about our products that we offer lots of tasters as any regular Friends will know! Plus that’s why we have our open layout, so you can see upclose for yourself how good everything is.  The baskets are not for self-service, we want to help you make your selection ourselves – we can tell you about everything & keep it all hygienic that way.  The old adage “If you touch me, please buy me” is definitely true for our displays 🙂

Ultimately our standards are for you, our Friends, to judge.  Only you can decide where to shop & what to buy, and we will just keep applying our hand-made, best quality torture test – that’s a great discipline for us!  We hope our best-product approach is enhancing our local community in many ways  and that because of that we continue to have Friends’  wonderful support for their baked needs– whatever supermarket they also shop at! xx

Half a dozen of the other after nearly one month

Half a dozen of the other after nearly one month


On the one hand we are so happy that there’s been super-positives since we opened – here we  blogged about Six of them.  On the other hand, it’s been Half a Dozen of the other for Rex Bakery with some real “challenges”.  Let’s be honest with you and share 6 of those:

1. Hours.  Everyone says that owning your own business is punishing & Always On – but this has been something quite unexpected.  The Rex Baker was working 18-20 hours days that started at 1am to begin with!   Err.. that’s unsustainable.    Figuring out the rhythm of the business and the ebb’s & flow’s (we joke that there’s not a lot of ebb’s…) has taken a while, and then Easter holidays are another factor to try to fathom, but we just got through it all.  Little Chalfont Parade is a

pulled pork sandwiches

Rex sandwiches

surprisingly busy location thanks to through traffic – people driving through to work who stop to pick up a sandwich early in the day; and after school customers – and can be very busy indeed at lunchtimes so we are rapidly scaling up production & staff to meet these various demand peaks.  So whilst we are now open 7-5 Tues-Fri and 8-4 normal Saturdays, we are assessing whether these are the right times & how to adjust as we go.


2. Production planning.  This is so difficult to call!  Our model, like traditional bakeries of your & your parents’ youth, is to hand make & produce everything early on the day of sale.    Even though you as good Friends of Rex can freeze pretty much anything you buy from us, we aren’t going to freeze our bread & buns to sell to you on another day. That wouldn’t be offering you something world-class right here in our own local community!!  That means we have had a few instances of selling out of popular lines, especially breads on Saturday already.  We’ve had others times when we’ve had leftovers.  Apart from feeding the perennially hungry Rex Baker’s family & giving away to the staff, we have struck up a great relationship with a local organic duck farmer and have a duck egg exchange going.  That means remarkably well fed ducks in return for wonderful duck eggs!  And at Saturday teatimes we have dropped buns at the nearby Paradigm common room for the OAPs to enjoy.  Apple, Bran & Sultana Muffin , anybody?


apple, bran & sultana muffins

apple, bran & sultana muffins

3. IT.    We are all – and we count you as good Friends of Rex Bakery – waiting in anticipation for the professional till to come on-stream.   It is some way away still  but at that point we will have fast calculation & printing of your order for clipping to your bag together with an alert through to the data centre on ingredient usage, sales trends to help with staffing & producing planning and of course the ability to take card payments.  Right now we are causing a queue to the cash machine outside our shop!!  Cash will always be most welcome but we are looking forward to being open for card payments too.   Further, we still don’t have our click & collect website up & running and we know you loyal Friends of Rex must be missing securing your orders – you can blame the Rex Baker’s wife, so sorry 🙁   Her lame excuse?  A very full time “day” job with a lot of travel and not enough hours in the day…. thank goodness that social media & digital properties can be updated pretty much at any time on the fly!!     We are very sorry & please feel free to email us if you need to make sure there is a Saturday order waiting for you meantime.


4. Money change.  We must be an unpopular business with our shop neighbours for sure, because to begin with we totally underestimated the usage of notes & how scarce pound coins and other change is.  That meant we were hounding the Post Office & other shops for change all day long – not appreciating that every transaction (like pretty much everything else you care to think of when running a business…) is fully chargeable & subject to exhausting levels of bank scrutiny to ensure this isn’t some money laundering scam.   It required some sweet-talking buns to maintain good relationships!!  And a lot of hassling the bank to speed up their “service” to us.

 5. “Stuff & stock” – we have had to emergency secure so many items we learnt about in the opening days.  Storage of just baked loaves, sandwich prep table, announcement blackboards, suddenly & without warning running out of pain au chocolat logs of chocolate; sugar; coffee beans due to such unexpected demand!!   We are going through our brown paperRex signature paper bag

bags at an insanely fast rate & have yet another urgent replenishment order on the way.   And of course they all need their signature little Rex yellow triangles stapled on…  We needed Spray guns for our smell-free food-safe commercial disinfectants, specific cleaning cloths for different jobs, more serving knives, an industrial mop, to buy our own recycling bin service as the rates/ council secures honestly a big fat nothing for businesses – and the list goes on…

6. Utilities.  Oh yes, still that subject.  We’ve had heat alarms going off in the middle of the night (err, it’s a bakery – no surprises there then), ovens smoking through spillage, sounds travelling, lack of power points…   Above all, the new “double glazing cold callers” have revealed themselves.  What nobody tells you is that when you open a business, expect 40+ calls a day from folks trying to sell you an energy deal. And “No Thank You, I’m sorted” doesn’t seem to wash….

We think everything may take months before it’s really running smoothly.
So please keep with us!  At least the bread, the pastries, the concept & the decor are hitting the spot with so many of you!

We really want to thank all you Loyal friends of Rex Bakery for your ongoing patience & support during these opening weeks – you are FANTASTIC!!! xx

rex bread display



Now it’s real for Rex Artisan Bakery – and it’s Six of one….

We have just had our 3rd working Saturday & 2 full weeks of Rex Artisan Bakery shop open to the public.  Whoop whoop!

Everybody asks us how it’s going so we thought we should share some of the up’s (& then in another blog, the down’s) of the 1st few weeks.

On the one hand, there’s been lots & lots of Up’s –

1. Rex sausage rollWe are a bakery 1st & foremost 🙂 It’s a huge relief that baking at scale is attracting the same (if not stronger!) lovely feedback on taste, texture & real-ness of the baked items on offer.    That’s where it begins & ends really, we designed our food to be world-class.  Sausage rolls are a good example – always a sell out favourite at the pop up, it’s quite mind boggling how many we are producing & selling within days of opening.  Just today a lovely customer returned after munching his morning buy during a dog walk to say “That’s the best sausage roll I have ever tasted in all my life.  I just had to come back & buy 2 more to let my wife taste one”  (hoping for his sake that the 2nd was saved back at home for him….)

2Business is also pretty critical 🙂  Thank goodness for see the giant & steady footfall into the shop.  Weekdays are bigger than we ever imagined possible and late morning on Saturday is so busy that 5 of us serve you flat out & yet there was still a queue out the door.  So yes, this is more than a viable business proposition, we have exceeded plan already & we only just got started!!


Rex coffee cup3. Coffee.  We love the taste of Monmouth coffee which we selected for the shop, and with experienced baristas to serve you who have received further expert barista training, and delicious full-bodied healthy local Guernsey cow milk – we know that what’s on offer is quite simply the best British coffee you can buy locally.  Several lovely Friends of Rex are going out of their way to buy their coffee-to-go from us as a result, and many others are enjoying a sit-down in the cafe.  That said, we have had people walking in to try a taster sample carrying – shock horror – a well known high street burgundy-branded coffee cup from further down the parade!!!  We’re sure those folks will think to convert in good time…  especially if they want to enjoy any more of Rex samples haha.

4. New products.  We have extended our range of Sourdoughs significantly since opening – in particular Oat, Groat & Sesame Sourdough, Hazlenut & Apricot and Pumpkin seed & poppyseed.  All of them sell out fast, it’s fantastic to witness the support for Sourdoughs in Little Chalfont.  These past 2 weeks have also seen the launch of some delicious new sweet delights including, to rave reviews, Luminettes (a croissant dough shaped like a pair of glasses filled with home-made luminettescreme patissiere and pieces of Belgian Callebaut chocolate); Vanilla Shortbread and of course the eponymous Hot Cross buns – with & without added apple!!

5. A community service.  We have had some lovely comments about how much Little Chalfont had been waiting for an artisan bakery, how we are enhancing the parade, making people’s daily lives happier.  And most excitingly, one customer told us that he had now abandoned driving to his previous weekly shop in Chorleywood in favour of walking round the corner to all the shops in the Parade for everything that he needed – he hadn’t been able to do that previously because he had missed the real bread.

6. Decor.  As Loyal Friends of Rex many of you have followed our blog, and so know the thought & time (& argh, money!!)  that went into creating the space in No. 4 Chenies Parade.  It’s so gratifying to hear that many of you love the use of oak & reclaimed wood, the colours, the tiles, the lights, even the funky scaffolding for the shelving!   And that seeing through to the real working bakery & all our ovens & equipment is an added bonus, just as planned 🙂

So the six of one story gives us tremendous confidence, hooray!

But we have to be honest, on the other hand there have been challenges as well – our till system & card payments still aren’t live, working out the rhythm of the village & product demand etc etc.  We’ll tell you about the “half a dozen of the other” very soon when we have solutions!!

Rex artisan bakery frontage, front of shop
Meanwhile, we really want to thank all you Loyal friends of Rex Bakery for your ongoing patience & support – you are FANTASTIC!!!  Please keep with us xx



Yes, yes, yes! How your community bakery will get better & better, we promise!

Even when he was still a City boy, the Rex Baker always said that what was really missing from our local village was a decent bakery.

So it was a huge relief to finally officially raise the Rex Artisan Bakery shutters & open our doors at 8am on Saturday 29th March!  A relief to us as we enjoyed the warmest welcome imaginable from Little Chalfont – thank you so much!!  But also, we think, a relief to the many local folks who said they too had genuinely been waiting for an Artisan Bakery just like us.

rex bakery shop, rex bakery cafe

We are overjoyed with the strong support of neighbours, dear friends & family and regular pop-up visitors this past week– all of whom seemed delighted with the reality of the shop interior after patiently persevering with home deliveries, Westwood Park pop up & the pick up point under a black marquee in a building site for many months now!   People liked the Rex Baker’s choice of decor, the use of oak, even his inspiration of the scaffolding for the shelves!  And really liked being able to see through the window to the working bakery, which was always our plan.  We all agreed that this was a little more like it….


But it was overwhelming to experience the warm welcome from so many new Friends out there, and almost bemusing how many times we had to reassure brand new customers that Yes, this was all home-made & baked right there, by a local team, with as best quality, few, local & organic ingredients as possible, on the premises, that morning.   We do understand the doubts.  The branding (thanks to @Rick, design guru & U8 coach at Westwood Park FC) all looks so professional that many fear our shop might be stocked by some kind of “artisanal-style” factory or commercial chain.  We’ve blogged before here & here about all the confusing claims out there in the world of food & bakeries, it’s really not easy to trust what you’re buying & eating.


So in case you are wondering –


  • Yes, we truly are a local family putting our all into this 1st Rex Bakery ourselves
  • Yes, everything really is home-made on the premises
  • Yes, we really do source the best quality ingredients, local & organic where possible


rex bakery shop, rex bakery display

rex bakery shop, rex bakery display

The Rex Baker retrained to become an artisan baker because he believes in Real bread & values Real food and wants to bring that to our local community.  Why not?  Why shouldn’t we in Little Chalfont have the very best in baking?!


We also sold coffees for the 1st time ever, to lovely feedback.  TBH, we have also thought and planned long & hard to make this special & something different – apart from sitting at your choice of a sociable refectory table or more private stools at the bar (or To go…), we have a talented barista, a great coffee machine & of course, amazing Monmouth coffee


But as many of you will have noticed, we are still on a journey!!


Here are just a few of the challenges that we must address:


    1. The Gas engineers arrived on Friday to put right the latest Power-gate.  Hooray!   But left a huge gaping messy hole right in front of the shop, not to mention some horrible mess from traipsing up & down the shop all day….
    2. We had no Broadband, and no way to launch what is a pretty sophisticated Till system.  That meant we are still using our trusty blue cash tin for payments, for the timebeing.  Thank goodness for:
      • a cash dispenser right outside of the shop.  Although apparently it broke down on Saturday, hope that wasn’t due to over-use by Rex Friends!
      • the Post Office next door who kindly swapped our notes for pound coins a heap of times.  We need to be change-heavy!!
      • Very kind Friends who didn’t seem to mind, indeed expected to pay only cash.  Thank you!!


rye bread3. We ran out of bread by lunchtime.  By lunchtime!  Argh!  We had originally planned to open 8am-4pm on a Saturday haha 🙂  We had joked about starting a book on what would be the last remaining item for sale, and given the Pop Up stall experience there was money on 1 of the Rye Breads (a “Marmite” loaf – people tend to absolutely love them or really dislike the more dense, complex & sophisticated tasting Rye Breads so popular in Germany & Eastern Europe).  Instead, we sold out of every single loaf across the whole bakery range and only had a basket of Chocolate buns & Bath buns left after lunch – that would never have happened at the pop-up!  We ALWAYS sold out of Buns 1st back then!! The Rex Bakery team’s families were left happy at least… some well-deserved yummy buns to share out at home.    But we had to put down the shop shutters by 2pm – so sorry if you tried to visit us for bread in the afternoon 🙁


  1. This was the 1st time the bakers had produced 00s of kgs of dough in the working bakery.  They certainly had issues – with extraction & smoke alarms; storage; working surfaces; the outputs of the mixer;  methods & ways of working together…  as one Friend joked, we need a Time & Motion study to perfect their processes.  The bakers will gear up to produce a lot more breads in particular & planning is underway.  We hope you enjoyed what was snapped up in the morning though…
  2.  There’s also a lack of shop storage for display basket replenishment as we are waiting on shop shelving.  There was probably more space for all the back-up bread boxes at the Pop Up, ironically!  We are going to have to chase YET ANOTHER rather slow supplier to hurry up on those, this week, so please bear with us…
  3. No proper Click & Collect just yet.  We are working hard to plan that Friends of Rex Bakery can order their Saturday pick-up choices & pay online in advance, so that baked items are put aside for you 1st thing in the morning & your bag is ready to be picked up in store without you joining the general queue.   Of course you will be able to choose any available extras in addition, but at least you will know that we haven’t sold out of your favourites.  So many people arrived to pick up their staple baguette or sausage roll only to be disappointed this Saturday – again so sorry!!  In the meantime, if you know you need choices from our regular typical bake list for the coming Saturday – please do just email us here by Thursday night and we will try to put it aside for you.


sausage roll

7. As yet, there were no lunchtime pies or tarts, not even sandwiches…. A lot of requests but no real takeaway savoury treats as we had even sold out of the hugely popular Rex sausage rolls in a couple of hours (at a rate of more than double our previous Saturday record).  We are looking forward to launching sandwiches at least in this coming week, for all our hungry local employees – we will be ready for you!!!!


And so on, and so on….  You probably noticed something you would have liked us to have sorted yourself.  We are wide open to your ideas!  Please comment below & tell us what you need from us to get better!


In the meantime, we really did love & sincerely appreciate all your unbelievably kind gifts, cards & comments – they make our day.  Now the close-to-zero hours of sleep, the stress of the risks & the beyond-imaginable hard graft all do feel worthwhile, thank you SO SO much:


“we feel privileged to have a bakery like yours on our doorstep”

“…lovely to see a fantastic bakery opening, we will be regular visitors”

“..the shop looked great, coffee excellent. Congrats”

“Ciabatta was delicious”

“…loved them!  It was lovely to try your amazing food”

“Congratulations! It’s now my girls’ favourite place!!”

Don’t forget, if you need some more love from us to make things better/ something put aside for Saturday, you are very special to us for wanting that so do email us here with your request/ order by Thursday night.


Otherwise, hope to see you this coming Saturday!

6 ways Rex takes the best of what’s local

6 ways Rex takes the best of what’s local

We will be opening our shop doors officially this week!   We will now have a public opening on SATURDAY 29th MARCH.

We hope that Rex Artisan Bakery will make our local community an even better place to be,  and as we move into the final throes of preparation, we have lots of opportunities to stay true to that cause.  It’s true that many of the supply decisions are about standard bakery equipment available only from specialist national & international firms.  We have tried very hard to economically fit out a best in class working bakery that everyone who visits the shop will be able to see working – here’s the Rex Baker unveiling a new mixer & others:


However, here are 6 decisions we have carefully made which are celebrating the best of what we could find locally:

      1. Benches.  High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire used to have a reputation as furniture & cabinet makers to the country.  It’s where Ercol was originally located & full of carpentry craftsmen.  We were very excited to track down an artisan woodturner in nearby Prestwood, who we commissioned to make 6 x oak benches from reclaimed wood to go round our big oak table in the cafe area.  We think this will be  a fantastic social way for people to have a coffee & a bun together, mixing in with the local community.benches, oak stools


      1. Jam.  The Rex Baker could & will probably make some of his own, but given he wants to focus on baking he 1st tried the local WI groups to source a great jam-maker who might want to supply a local business like ours. But sadly there was no lady forthcoming, they must just save their yummy homemade produce for their own families!  However, he has found an artisan jam maker in Aylesbury who has supplied a range of delicious jams for us to try (tough job but someone has to do it…)   and  they are currently researching the seedless raspberry jam the Rex Baker requires for his Benedict Bars (oooh, remember them?!).  These jams will be available for sale in the shop 🙂


      1. Milk.  We do like our Milk in the Rex Baker family, wading through litres upon litres of supermarket organic milk every week.  In the business, we purposefully wanted to avoid conventional milk in our coffee, we wanted to source the best milk we could find as it such a nutritious & potentially delicious whole product all on its own.  We are thrilled to have found a local farmer with a breed of Guernsey cows, to supply sustainable rich Guernsey milk to Rex Bakery.


      1. Soft Drinks.  We have joined Bucks Business First, a helpful organisation that makes the link between various start-ups & have been a kind sounding board during our (ongoing…) utility company sagas.  Through them we found out about a group of local ex-Challoners boys who have established an artisan home-made drinks company and we hope to sell their drinks in Rex Bakery for those that don’t want a coffee.  Although the Rex Baker’s wife finds it hard to believe their home-made lemonade is better than hers, so let the battle of the lemonades commence!!  One thing’s for sure, we won’t be selling those canned fizzy drinks that are getting such a bad press for their impact on our teeth & health….


      1. Grocery.  We are loyal to local Prestwood friends who handmake & will deliver our selected sausagemeat sausage rolls, puff pastry, artisan bakingfor the eponymous Rex sausage rolls & various charcuterie for our sandwiches, and with the quite-close Heathrow greengrocery serving local markets & suppliers we are assured of excellent fruits for our cakes & buns and salads for our cafe.  We have sourced fresh organic eggs from Seer Green – we will be using a LOT of eggs in the bakery!!


    1. Staff.  We have  a lovely team of 4 to work alongside the Rex Baker through the week, and several more Saturday helpers.  Whilst we had enquiries for the baker vacancies from all around the UK and indeed all the way from France, Cyprus, Portugal… we are very excited to be welcoming experienced baker, patisserie chef, cafe & barista staff from Chesham, Watford & right here in Little Chalfont!!  The Rex Baker’s wife & oldest daughter have been the face of the Saturday morning pop-ups for some time, but will be handing over to the experts.  Although expect to see the family in the beginning Saturdays to help with the handover, and from time to time thereafter as we enjoyed meeting all the local Friends so much!

      It must be coming together in the way we hoped because 1 kind Friend said on Facebook this week: “It’s looking SUPER-COOL in the parade, looks like it’s from Marylebone not Little Chalfont”.  We are very chuffed! Because, we love Marylebone, it’s only 35 minutes away on the train and – why not here in Little Chalfont???See you in the shop from Saturday 29th March!




Is this Power-gate 2, the Sequel? How we have a target Open date

Is this Power-gate 2, the Sequel?  How we have a target Open date

We have had our last Saturday pop-up.pop up shop; Rex Artisan Bakery

There is no bake list or orders being taken this week – we are transferring the secondary ovens & equipment from our home working bakery up to No. 4 Chenies Parade in the coming days, and attempting to dot all the i’s & cross all the t’s with target public opening date now of Friday 28th March.

In the meantime, there are just a few biggies still to sort…

Friends of Rex know that we have had a rough ride with the Utilities in Little Chalfont.

But after a dramatic U-turn by the electricity provider, that was all put right behind us and we have surged forward, powering through all the other (apparently very many!) challenges of opening a new business.  As 1 good Friend put it – running a bakery should be a cinch compared to opening one!

But this past week we have learnt of some new Power issues.  Oh no, here we go again!!

Whilst we have our shiny new much loved Electric-powered bakery ovens & most of the bakery power (lights, catering equipment, air conditioning) will be electric, we of course planned Gas for hot water.  The alternative –  immersion heaters in a hot water tank  – should only be a back up because they would burn out every couple of years, proving expensive in the long run.

We of course became acutely acquainted with all things Gas earlier this year when we had gone so far as sourcing Gas bread ovens from the Continent, after being informed there was no reasonable way to go Electric in Little Chalfont.   At that point, we learnt of 4 stages to using Gas at all for your business which involves 3 different companies, none of whom can do the others’ tasks.

What do they all do?

1) Transco.  They come & check your gas supply through your existing pipework and then have a second separate team who will organise the installation if you haven’t any gas.

2) The middle-man.  You pay them for all this work (British Gas in our case) to liaise with the upstream Transco check & the downstream metering, connection & of course bills moving forwards

3) The metering company who come & re-check the supply, install a meter, report back to the middleman.

We have had no problems all the way along this rather complex chain of hand-offs (except for the usual waiting around for each of the said-agents to arrive).  Transco had been and confirmed the supply & we thought we were in the final stages of meter installation last week.

So, imagine our shock to be told by the metering agent that there is NO GAS SUPPLY after all, so he cannot legally connect a meter or try to help us find out why.  His experience was that for some businesses who haven’t had Gas supply for 12-18 months, we might possibly need  to dig a trench( through our new floor) to install new pipes & connect to the  gas main in Chenies Parade, which of course takes many weeks.

Err… No thank you.     That’s not quite what we had in mind for our target opening date,  our working bakery operations nor budgets!!

Fortunately British Gas  organised Transco to come out very quickly a second time(in 48 hrs) who have now confirmed there is no Gas, but need a second team to assess how to reconnect the gas . So we await a second Transco team!
But we aren’t planning on waiting on them, we will use our Immersion Heaters for  hot water at launch.

rex bakery shop, rex bakery interiorSo please do standby to come & visit us end of March, we will be excited to welcome you into the new bakery & shop which we think is shaping up beautifully (yes, we’re biased) with staff lined up, painted walls & ceiling, floors laid, lights fitted, counter tops in place, shelving & furniture about to move in.

See you soon!!



Rex takes two steps forward, one (or two) back…

Rex takes two steps forward, one (or two) back…

Every week our new & existing Friends ask “how much longer now”.

The truth is, there are major challenges to test & stretch us every single week if not daily, and this week has been especially full of ups 🙂 & downs :(.

Two steps forwards and one (or two) back…

This week the Rex Baker was TERRIBLY EXCITED when his new electric oven arrived.  Regular Friends will recall the hassle we faced over power, which was miraculously resolved.  Amazingly,  the very kind supplier delivered brand new ovens for the price of reconditioned ovens, and 5 men spent 7 hours building it on-site.  It will take about another week to plumb & connect still and then after that we still  need to transfer our working home bakery equipment to the site.

rex bakery oven video

It was great to welcome so many Friends into the shop with its newly smooth concrete floor, almost painted walls, grouted tiles, ceiling lights ready to work & woodwork installing.  It’s all visibly getting there…

On the other hand, we’ve had setbacks and some of them are potentially significant. We continue to say we hope to launch by end March and we hate to use the word, but like Power-gate, 1 or 2 could be showstoppers in terms of opening date.


This week’s showstoppers

1. Our patisserie fridge
Many Friends of Rex Bakery seem to enjoy our cakes,lemon blueberry cake buns, sausage rolls and for the past 2 weeks only until the shop opens, Croissants & pain au chocolat & pain au raisin (which sold out within 1/2 hour on Saturday).  For hygiene & health standards we need to keep many of these chilled & guarded once the shop opens.    So we set about finding a patisserie fridge, and of course like everything the Rex Baker is selecting, a beautiful top quality unit was chosen.Imagine our excitement when we found that the exact product we were after was available nearly new on ebay!

We successfully won the auction and chose a highly rated courier to transport our new multi-kilogram, 1.2 metre (virtually square) fridge to Little Chalfont.  We asked for delivery as early as possible as our good friend  George Noble the builder, was building a full length counter around the patisserie fridge & a polished concrete worktop is being installed above it.  So super-frustrating when after a week, our seller let us know that they had had no contact from our courier.  Argh!

We asked the courier if we could cancel, with an idea to hire a van ourselves to go collect it.  Upon which, the couriers told us that they had now organised a date to collect from the seller and that they would deliver to us at the end of that week and if we wanted to cancel that would cost us 50% loss of the original hefty courier payment.  So Hobson’s choice – but we decided we could only afford to hold on so George’s team built the  counter around an imaginary fridge…But to our horror on the expected day of delivery, the seller told us that the fridge had STILL not been collected.  The courier’s response was that they expected us to cancel so hadn’t sent their van to collect it in case we did.

More argh!!!    What’s worse, it would be a further week before they could collect & then deliver to us…Beyond painful but with no fast alternative to hand, we went with it and at last our seller confirmed the fridge had been picked up.  Yay!!  So…. imagine how we react on Friday (bake prep day… kind of busy…) when we were on standby to receive the ginormous patisserie fridge at the shop – only to learn that the courier’s van was involved in some big country lane accident whilst on its way to us.  Hmm.  Glad that nobody was hurt BUT when we hear that the write-off is not just the van but the patisserie-fridge inside too –   YET MORE ARGHH!!!   So, we now have to source exactly that patisserie fridge model (to fit what’s been built around it) brand new at full price, and sincerely hope we can do that in good time.  AND we predict a major dispute with this slippery courier to retrieve our full payment prices.  Sigh.  Life is never easy, is it…

2. Bakery staff

Our bakery team is 80% complete now with wonderful people, very exciting.  But we’ve STILL been unable to recruit 1 critical position, let down a couple of times now unfortunately.  We have to keep on trying..  there is no such thing as 80% there if we are to open the shop – this really is a lynchpin role..

3. council planning

We continue to be in planning discussions & paperwork around all sorts of steps including even air conditioning unit details…
The good news is that we can of course fully trade from No.4  as a shop like all Chenies Parade ground floor inhabitants, as well as food provision & preparation like other units up & down the parade.   But the bad news is all the paperwork….

So you can see there are plenty of developments away from the simple craft of home-making the Rex Bakery produce for the Little Chalfont pop-up every Saturday morning.

Many thanks & here’s hoping we all have a truly great week after last week, we all deserve it!!

6 ways to get great value from Rex bread

6 ways to get great value from Rex bread

Few Brits truly value Real bread. We have got used to low supermarket prices of British bread, to bread lasting an unnaturally long time due to the high level of preservatives & bread additives in the mixes many bakery chains & in-store bakers use, and to throwing away old bread.  So what does Rex the Baker recommend for home-made Rex bread?

6 ways to get great value from Rex bread

Apparently the British pay the lowest average price in Europe for their bread, and it’s the Number 1 food we throw away with about 1/3 of all bread sold ending up in the bin.  Perhaps because so much bread is really cheap, even when times are hard we just buy too much of it, and then don’t eat it because frankly it doesn’t taste all that great.  In short we don’t respect a lot of the bread we are sold.

Our 6 tips to really value Rex bread:

1) Choose your favourite loaf as a regular item.

Our intention is that every baked item we sell tastes delicious, better than you can buy elsewhere.   Many Rex friends are adventurous every week and like to try the rotating Sourdoughs, the new products such as the Eating Loaf, or have adopted Focaccia or Olive Ciabatta.  As bread geeks ourselves we are right with those Friends.  But if you aren’t yet so sure, we recommend that you go with the loaf that inspires your best real bread memories.  In our case this is probably an Organic White Bloomer, because it conjures up memories of the delicious loaf bought from the local village bakery at lunchtime from Sixth Form, devoured at home with friends well before the end of that blessed “free study period”.Rex Artisan Bakery, pick up point, pop up shop, pop up bakery, basket of bread

2) Naturally longer lasting

We explained last week that Rex bread is all hand-made and you get nothing but the best in high quality ingredients, organic where possible, for the Rex price you pay.  You also get nothing nasty added such as preservatives in your loaf, and real bread is for sure best when eaten soon after it was freshly made & baked.  But some of our loaves naturally last longer – ciabattas & focaccias due to the very high water content in the dough, Multiseed due to the touch of honey and our Potato, Oat & Apple sourdoughs thanks to the fruit & vegetable content.

3) Can’t put a price on your health

The Rex bread price includes the love & labour that goes into making good food, slowly.  Unfortunately the big bakery chains & supermarkets cut corners & avoid the traditional bread making techniques which take time & craft – because of their cheap industrial processes they can charge very little for loaves that you don’t then really enjoy or value.
In addition to being hand-made with no mixes, all Rex loaves take a minimum of 24 hours to prove, with sourdoughs taking up to 7 days.  For anybody with bread intolerance concerns, we always recommend trying the Rex Sourdough first.   Our traditional methods mean that the yeast & starters are properly fermented for ease of digestion, the right rise & texture is achieved naturally and no bread additives or accelerators (with worrying risks for your gut) are required to artificially create a loaf.

4) Freeze me!

We have blogged before about 7 ways to keep your bread fresh.    Our favourite method at home is to freeze half or the whole loaf until required, always wrapped in plastic and not paper to prevent the bread moisture from evaporating in the freezing & defrosting process.    All Rex baked items can be frozen & naturally defrosted – and all the savoury items can be warmed up before serving.  Yum!  If you do want to freeze your loaf already sliced, let us know in your order & we will provide it sliced & pre-wrapped.Rex Bakery artisan bread sliced & bagged

5) Crumbs!

The Rex baker’s family loves its chicken pieces & meat escalopes, fishcakes, pasta bakes to be coated in breadcrumbs. Not only delicious, breadcrumb coating is an economic way to bulk out your meals.  We have successfully used all the Rex breads, as a mix of loaf ends or singly, with crusts on or off.    All varieties can be declared delicious 🙂  We therefore recommend any loaf ends are breadcrumbed in the food processor & simply frozen in bags until you are ready to use.

6) Pudding club
Oh yum, we love puddings!   For bread & butter pudding, we like Nigel Slater’s recipe best.  And if you ever have such a thing (unlikely, we know…) as leftover croissants, these work a treat too.  For dried or stale bread, also try Queen of Puddings, Summer Pudding, Bread Pudding.  All of these also work with fresh bread by the way…


You probably have your own favourite uses for leftover bread – maybe Eggy Bread or chunks to feed the birds or ducks? Please let us know yours in the comments.

Little known way to avoid chicken feathers & human hair in your bread – eww!

Little known way to avoid chicken feathers & human hair in your bread – eww!

Nowadays, many people believe that they are what they eat

So we often get questions from new & current Friends alike about what exactly goes into Rex bake range, how they taste, how & where they are made.

You are what you eat – but do you really know what you are eating?


We may not be experts, but many of us do care more about the human food chain today.


Did you know that a now-global scientific approach to modern food production heralds from nearby Chorleywood?  The Rex Baker has recently met  locals who worked in the 1960s in the now defunct Chorleywood Flour Milling and Bakery Research Association, which was almost opposite to Christ Church in bread dough, artisan baker at work, shaping dough, cutting doughChorleywood.


Back then, small British bakeries needed to compete on cost & efficiency versus big new commercial bakery factories that had sprung up post-war in the UK.  So the research bakers at Chorleywood developed revolutionary ideas to help – but in fact they changed the way bread was made across the entire world and today fewer & fewer of us like the result.


These researchers discovered that by adding hard fats, extra yeast and a number of chemicals (now with no irony called “Bread Improver” in the Industry) and then mixing at high speed you got a dough that was ready to bake in a fraction of the time it normally took. This became known as the “Chorleywood Bread Process”


The actual result was that the big factory bakers very quickly adopted the process and as the price of British bread plummeted, the revolution largely wiped out traditional craft bakeries from villages across the country.   This travelled worldwide and now most of the  £1billion a year UK bread industry is made this way, to produce cheap long lasting bread with generally lower quality wheat.



Some Rex Friends ask for wheat alternatives or low wheat breads – but it’s the whole British approach to commercial baking that may be affecting your digestion.  We think slowly hand-made Rex bread with the fewest, highest quality ingredients and nothing else added, gains you plenty instead.


One of the key additives used in so called ‘Bread Improver’, to soften many factory breads be they Chorleywood or otherwise, is  L – CYSTEINE (or E920).


It is a harmless enough sounding chemical and is synthesised in a typically ingenious way – it takes an unwanted bi- product and turn it into something useful.   However this chemical is generally synthesised from Chicken Feathers in the EU or Human Hair in the rest of the world. Eww!   How does that sound?!


We don’t know about you, but the Rex Baker tends to avoid eating both of those things 🙂 It’s hard to imagine our bodies are designed to digest extract of that!


Worse, this isn’t even something that bread, cake & biscuit manufacturers have to openly declare on their ingredients list because enzymes are seen as processing aids, not additives.  Most people have no idea that their bread may contain this, nor from where it hailed and so can’t even make an informed choice about what they are eating.


artisan bread, rex bakery, rex bread, multiseed crust

So good news for all near to Little Chalfont – now you know how to be sure that the bread & baked items you are eating DON’T feature extract of chicken feathers or human hair!!!   Rex Artisan Bakery openly states what our few essential ingredients are and you will be able to see us taking an old fashioned approach in the on-site working bakery right in the heart of our community, hand making our baked items slowly to get the rise & the taste right without artificial help.


We don’t want to give you nightmares but there are other dodgy sounding enzymes in modern bakery production….  for a start those mysterious “flour treatment agents” that many of the better supermarkets mention in their in-store artisanal-looking bakeries.   More on those another day, we promise!!


In the meantime, no need to worry AT ALL if you are a Friend of Rex! xx


How 1 easy step gave power back to the people

How 1 easy step gave power back to the people

The old saying “Two steps forward, 1 step back” can be so true!
It certainly has been as we move towards Rex Artisan Bakery’s opening – which should be just next month now!

1 easy step to (affordable) power

Outfitting the bakery is now coming along at apace.

Rex Bakery, window from shop into bakeryRex Bakery has planned a bakery shop with seating area for coffees, soups, baked items etc at the front of No. 4 Chenies Parade and the working bakery situated at the rear, you will be able to look through via the viewing window in the dividing door & wall (see picture).  The 2 areas have to be mainly separate to carefully manage heat versus air conditioning in a working bakery.

Here’s some of the progress we’ve made in recent weeks:

1)      Power-gate

Several weeks ago we blogged how the level of available electricity was very low in Chenies Parade, despite us having 3-phase power to our shop.  We had been told by Little Chalfont’s sole electricity supplier, that it would cost us tens of thousands & many months to source any extra electricity from the nearest sub-station – it was a real shock to learn that our village appeared to be closed to a new small business.

We then went into reinvention mode, spurred on by fantastic Friend support.  We unfortunately had to disregard biofuel energy (nice & eco but just proved impractical for a bakery business as you have to start up the ovens 5 hours before you can use them!!).  The Continental baker prefers gas ovens & so through friends & the interweb we sourced a Mercedes of gas ovens to import (albeit with a Mercedes  price tag to match) which meant we could now progress.  Meanwhile, our local expert project manager friend (he should be leading the UN) advised us to lodge a formal complaint with the power company.  Though of course a whinge about restricted supply could take an age & go nowhere.  We also had conversations with councillors & frank, tough exchanges with the electricity provider’s local rep.   All of which felt rather pointless at the time – but anyhow we had nailed our gas-powered plan B, so all were just ways to vent steam.

Then 1 week ago, out of the blue, we received a letter from the power provider offering to upgrade our electricity to the necessary levels for a few hundred pounds instead.  Yay!  We don’t exactly know what changed the supply problems or their minds, but we grabbed at this immediately & hey presto after they changed 3 fuses we now have all we need & more to open with the standard British electric commercial bakery ovens!!

Amazing!  Friends may expect us to be more pleased than we are – but given the wasted energy (excuse the pun), time & money in sourcing alternatives, all of which are in too short supply when starting a new business –  it doesn’t feel all that sweet.  A good learning for us all though – let’s just take that 1st step of lodging a strongly worded complaint.  If you kick up a fuss, stick to your guns, don’t just lie down & take it – this proves that the little guy can win out over the big guys on occasions 🙂

So the selected electricity ovens are paid for, are on their way, we’re still on track & we want to say thanks to everyone for your support & interest – woop woop!

2) Inside

We have fitted soundproofing  & a new ceiling, air conditioning & extraction, 1st fix electrics, plumbing, interior walls.  We shutter, Rex bakery little chalfonthave a new electric shutter from which we can see you outside but you can’t see in to us!! We have fixed multiple leaks in the ceiling, we have sourced flooring, shelving, seating, worktops, Farrow & Ball paint samples (that’s the nicest bit…).  Plastering should take place this week…


3) Outside

Back doors are replaced, front window glass has been replaced, the shop sign goes up this week which will be more than exciting!


4) Staff

We have been busy meeting candidates, interviewing & assessing and are now at a point of making some offers on critical positions – the whole team is not yet established but there are some great people who are going to work alongside Rex the Baker to bring the dream to life.  Actual opening date is dependent on the team being in place, as you can imagine.


Meanwhile the pop-up continues to grow every week in sales & in number of new Friends discovering us for the 1st time – it’s really nice to actually be inside the shop shell now to shelter from the last of the winter weather.

Have a great week again!

Who else wants to know the secret of Rex product development?

Who else wants to know the secret of Rex product development?

You might wonder why it has taken the Rex Baker MONTHS to develop his new Malt Loaf.

On the other hand, those new local Friends who aren’t of a certain age or didn’t grow up in the UK, haven’t even heard of Malt Loaf!    As well as wanting to develop the Best of world breads, Rex wants to champion great British produce like Malt Loaf which is practically unique to the UK.

The secret of Rex Artisan Bakery product development

The Rex Baker is inspired by food memories.

He fondly remembers enjoying Soreen Malt Loaf with his Granny, who he loved very much & who was wife to the original Rex. So in a way,  his efforts to recreate a distinctive, delicious, wholesome and healthy malt loaf  is homage to her.

When it comes to developing such a loaf, many of you may see the parallels between the brewing & bread baking professions. In essence the same basic ingredients are used: grain, water & yeast.   It turns out that the Malt Loaf has come from Britain’s love of Bitter Ale, which has the malty tones & also hops for the bitter tones.malt loaf

In Rex Malt Loaf we therefore introduced Malted Barley, which gives British beer its colour & malty overtones but we don’t want the bitter  undertones from hops (although – that could inspire another bread in the future!)

Further, we want sweetness, we want moistness & stickiness but we want a rich malty flavour.

The challenge we faced was in deciding to avoid the use of certain ingredients common to Factory bread versions:

Instead after multiple attempts, the Rex Baker has settled on the combination of Black Treacle for rich deep caramel overtones; & Honey for light sweetness & natural preservative qualities. Together they give a rich deep flavour.  Then Rex discovered the winning  mixture of Organic Prunes again for their deeper richer flavour with sultanas for their sweetness – sultanas only made a reappearance in Version 8 of Rex Malt Loaf!  Most other loaves on the market just seem to use Raisins.

malt loaf wrapped in clingfilmIn Version 15 which finally reached the February bake list, the Rex Baker has selected four different malt flours, straight from the brewing industry, to achieve the malty overtones and the stickiness. Of these flours, Chocolate Malt is very dark & bitter and is used to make Stouts & Porters like Guinness.  These different malt flours together make the product very tricky! So tricky that the Yeast finds it difficult to do its thing, so the Rex Baker has employed a technique called a ‘flying sponge’ where we get the yeast very active in a very wet pre-ferment before we make the final dough.  It also means as usual with Rex bread, the flour is all well fermented which gives you a more complex flavour and is thought to be better for your digestion.

And then finally the Rex Malt Loaf also uses a mixture of White & Wholemeal Organic Flours – this seems to make Rex unique, no other recipe seems to use Wholemeal but we believe the 30% Wholemeal further adds to the richness of flavour.

So it took no fewer than 15 versions & a lot of trial & error to develop the latest new Rex product – that’s the secret.

We do hope you enjoy our Malt Loaf.   Rex Bakery can guarantee it will not last anywhere as long as the Soreen Loaf which might sit on shelves for months, and will not be as artificially sweet.  But we do think it is much richer in flavour, is nearly as sticky and the all-naturally healthy home-made Rex loaf  inspires the food memory of Malt Loaf with Granny as a child.

We are supplying Malt Loaf wrapped in food-safe clingfilm & recommend you keep the open end wrapped in this until all consumed.

Ingredients check:

Organic White Bread Flour
Organic Wholemeal Bread flour
Diastatic Malt Flour
Sunblest Malt Flour
Amber Spray Malt
Dark Malt Flour
Organic Chopped Prunes
Dark Treacle

You will also note that Rex Malt Loaf has NO DAIRY , so it can be enjoyed by those with an allergy in that area 🙂


3 ways to Taste the Globe’s best of breads right here in Little Chalfont

3 ways to Taste the Globe’s best of breads right here in Little Chalfont

Aren’t we an international bunch in Little Chalfont?

You may have noticed how some of the more worldly Rex baked products sell out every single week at the pop up point, perhaps even before you got a look-in!  Well for those wondering how best to eat the more Complex-to-develop Sourdoughs (common in Central & Eastern Europe and California) or Italian bread specialties, we have some delicious top tips for you this week.

3 Ways to Taste the Globe’s best & lift your day

1) Sourdoughs.  More & more Friends of Rex Bakery ask after the speciality & regular Rex sourdoughs each week – their extended home-grown yeast process, depth of taste & texture and believed superior digestion impact is capturing local imaginations.  Anyone concerned about suspected bloating from mass commercial baked products, should try the gentle & delicious effect of our Sourdoughs instead.  Read our favourite ways to eat Rex Sourdough here.

Alternatively, a taste of Italia is brightening up our last weeks of Winter – the Rex Baker is up to focaccia & ciabatta baking capacity in our home working bakery every week now.

2. Artisan ciabattas olive ciabatta interior(handmade, not just derived from a concentrate or packet mix) are rarely found in retail chains because they are very hard to make – our dough is made from Italian organic durum wheat flour, olive oil and due to its very high water: flour ratio content, it’s tricky to handle.  Fresh Rex ciabattas make a wonderful accompaniment to pasta; toasted slices can be topped with mozzarella cheese & Italian cured hams; and Rex olive organic ciabatta is a meal by itself thanks to the huge whole organic Kalamata olives uniquely grown in Sparta, generously distributed throughout.



focaccia3. Focaccia. Many people in Little Chalfont are still discovering Rex Focaccia and how to eat it.  The starter dough is made the same way to Ciabatta but then proved & baked in a tray – the Rex Baker tries lots of different toppings on his Focaccia.  Personal favourites included the sea salt & herb toppings, but Friends also love a few pieces of vegetables or goat cheese.  Our favourite ways to eat Focaccia:

  • Fresh from the pop-up point – enjoy the slice just as is, because it was baked just a few hours earlier. Or dip into an Olive oil & balsamic vinegar blend.
  • Slice it horizontally and fill the fresh bread with cheese, cured hams, rocket & tomato slices.  What a lunch time sandwich that makes!  We hope to offer varieties of this in the Rex bakery café.
  • Slice it horizontally & toast cut side under the grill.  Use to make an open sandwich topped with roasted vegetables, drizzling with olive oil & basil.  You can also regrill your lightly toasted open focaccia slice with slices of cheese for an easy cheesy toastie.
  • If it’s a few days old, warm up in the microwave for just 20 seconds on full power & serve it any of the ways above, it will be warm & taste perfectly fresh.
  • If your Focaccia slice was frozen (it freezes really well wrapped in plastic), then place in the oven (180/ 350) for 15 minutes from frozen then serve

As one Friend of Rex Bakery said of Focaccia in their order:
“It’s me new secret pleasure, I don’t let the others in the family know about it!!”

Our focaccia looks quite belissimo (if we say so ourselves 🙂 so do try 1 of our Focaccia varieties this week!  We wonder what’s your favourite  ways of eating focaccia?  Do tell us in the comments here or on our Facebook page here x


How to treat your family AND boost their 5-a-day intake in 1 savoury bite

How to treat your family AND boost their 5-a-day intake in 1 savoury bite

Aren’t we asked to fit at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetables into our diets, every single day?  The truth is, it can be quite a battle on occasion in the Rex Baker’s family.  But never fear, there’s a new way to enhance sandwiches without anything visibly “green” that the kids might resist.


  • oats apple sourdough, sourdough, organic white sourdough

Towards your family’s 5-a-day intake in 1 savoury bite

It’s actually thrilling when you’ve successfully sneaked extra health into you & your family’s diet, without them knowing & with them actually loving what they are eating!  All Rex sweet products carry at least a little fruit or extra fibre and of course we hand-make everything in Rex Artisan Bakery with the best ingredients we can source, organic where possible and nothing else added, so plenty gained.

But this week we are recommending one of our breads, Oat & Apple Sourdough for your families’ sandwiches & lunches.   Sourdoughs are very special loaves – they take days to make & have many digestive health benefits especially compared to industrial-made loaves.

Oat & Apple is one of our tastiest breads (according to the Rex Baker’s children) with an extremely light & long lasting moist bread-crumb thanks to the inclusion of up to 1/2 a grated Cox’s Orange Pippin* apple (that’s all the clean skin & flesh) into each organic white loaf.  Topped with extra oats, what we think is a beautiful rustic-looking crust 🙂 does bring some extra goodness with it too.

Whilst an apple a day famously keeps the doctor away, the best thing about Oat & Apple Sourdough is that it just seems like a delicious white loaf that doesn’t taste at all apple-y or indeed sour!!   Think of the inclusion of apple as a natural preservative that maintains great loaf moisture and injects extra tangy-fruit health benefits into every bite.

What’s special about Cox’s Orange Pippin in your sandwich?

  • Did you know that these apples were originally developed in Bucks, not Kent?  So are a local icon!
  • Great source of vitamins (especially vitamin C), minerals and antioxidants
  • Good source of extra dietary fibre especially pectin
  • Thought to positively stimulate bacteria in your digestive tract
  • It’s believed that an apple as part of your lunch fills you up faster, so that you are less tempted to overeat later.

Here’s what a couple of friends of Rex Bakery have to say:

“My boys enjoyed the new apple & oat sourdough loaf today”

 “This is sooooooooooo delicious!!!”

If you too would like to inject some extra 5-a-day health into your diet, why not add Oat & Apple Sourdough to your order this week?

* We choose the apple that’s in-season.  This was Cox’s Orange Pippin in February.

Could this be a show stopper?

It’s been a tumultuous week for the Rex Baker.   What we learnt is going to require inventive thinking akin to the “Apollo 13” square peg in a round hole scene to keep going, lol.

It’s ironic because the feedback from the local community continues to be overwhelmingly warm, with so many of you ordering here by Thursday night for Saturday morning collection at the pop up in the Parade; and visitors to No 4 telling us time & time again that an Artisan Bakery is “Just what we need in Little Chalfont”.

Could this be a show stopper?

Last week we told you that it was taking longer than you’d think before we’d be ready to open the bakery.  An important factor we mentioned was the utilities required to operate a working on-site bakery, and that we  had a good idea we would Rex sourdough, sourdough in oven, commercial bakery ovenneed to increase the electricity supply to power all the ovens, retarder provers, chillers etc.    Well just days ago we heard from the electricity supply company that the power to the Parade’s individual shops is woefully inadequate – less than we have to our own home garage in fact – and that all excess capacity to the Parade has been bought up by a certain popular supermarket.  On paper there isn’t enough to the shop to service a bakery, and neither can there be in the short term.

What’s more, the nearest sub-station is some distance away on a private road (so needs planning permission, writing to all the residents, etc.).  We would have to pay  tens of thousands of pounds for our part in a  massive Little Chalfont infrastructure upgrade, which would include  a huge trench dug from our shop to the site for a direct feed and it would take at least 6 months to get through the process.

So  we have to think laterally and work out another way forward because it’s just not an option for little old us to resource such a thing!!

(We do wonder what plans are being made by our Utility Companies for the housing development  allowed on the Donkey Field behind  Chenies Parade and two planning applications for shops/flats between Chenies Parade  & the car showroom. Everyone wants to build in our community but there is no power infrastructure to facilitate it!)  OK, rant over…

It’s all a nasty shock to say the least, because many of you will remember a bakery further down the parade before so the power must have been there on the grid a few years ago.

Which brings us to creative thinking.  So now we are looking at the types of ovens; the fuel they use; how much can be used simultaneously; and especially reviewing gas powered commercial baking oven options which are popular in U.S., Italy and Germany if not Britain.  There are other business model options too, of course.

So we certainly don’t see it as a show stopper at all – yet!!  And we’ll keep you all posted, it’s lovely that so many of you ask about the bakery progress & that you really do care about having  a real bakery in the community.  Thank you.

In the meantime, the builders started work on the interior of the shop, we have sourced gorgeous contemporary wood tables & benches & shelving for the shop and cafe area, organised the shop signage and applications from potential bakers & staff are coming in – so lots & lots of positive shop momentum.

And we are thrilled with the feedback on all the Rex Bakery products and at least we can be totally confident about & committed to the production & quality of our home bakes in the meantime.  chocolate buns, rex bakery And if you are new to Rex Bakery, WELCOME & please sign up for email alerts in the top right hand corner.

Have a great week! xx


It’s taking longer than you’d think

It’s taking longer than you’d think

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A British Bun (or two) can’t hurt

A British Bun (or two) can’t hurt

This week buns are back, yay!! The eponymous Elizabeth David, who was born 100 years ago this last Boxing Day, writes in “English Bread and Yeast Cookery” how “all these ‘small, soft, plump, sweet, fermented cakes’ are English institutions”

The British Bun institution

We pretty much sold out of bread and all sausage rolls at the pop up point this Saturday – shame, there wasn’t even a small Multiseed loaf  left for the Rex Baker’s children’s lunch boxes for back to school 🙁

So that taught us that it is OK to offer our Friends of Rex Bakery a limited bread  list in January. And certainly the Rex Baker gained valuable daytimes otherwise spent in bake preparations, for critical business & shop fitting planning.   However, overnight during baking he couldn’t resist preparing some extra dough & baking up some of his favourite buns – so we had a fuller range to offer at the pop up point afterall and we have decided that the same will be true throughout January.

The Bun really is a long standing British Baking institution which has been usurped more recently, as yummy butter-rich overseas invaders like the Croissant has taken its place as a breakfast or mid-morning snack.  Who else remembers a bun at elevenses as a British child in the last century, before the advent of the brunch & continental viennoiserie?

A bun should be slightly sweet,  not too rich, light and most importantly it’s delicious eaten fresh.  In keeping with the lighter New Year bake list, we have a great opportunity to explore the British Bun.

chocolate bun1) Chocolate Buns have been a favourite of Rex Bakery since our Village Day launch.     Our chocolate buns,  inspired originally by an Italian bread, are sweetened just by honey, top glazed with sugar syrup & flavoured by Callebaut Belgium Chocolate  Cocoa Powder and Chocolate Drops, giving chocoholics that chocolate hit but without the fat levels of a chocolate bar or cake.  There is no egg or butter in this bun so it’s light unlike most chocolate products.

2) Rex Bath Buns are also light unlike the  original 250 year old,  Sally Lunn buns of Bath, because ours are not dripping in butter.  We do enrich the slightly sweet dough with egg and flavour with Rex-made citrus peel, lemon zest, anise (a very old fashioned baking spice) and a few raisins.   If you go back to the Victorian  era, apparently nearly 1 million  London “Bath Buns” were baked for the 5 1/2 months of The Great Exhibition of 1851 – although with such a quantity some were criticised as irregular, cloying, prone to staling.  It seems that those set the tone for  the commercial London Bath Bun mass-produced since then.  So you can see that originally they were popular but perhaps it’s time for a new direction for the Bath Bun. We feel ours taste great, meet all our January criteria (light, fresh, tasty, only slightly sweet) and hopefully are our little contribution in reviving the great British Bun tradition.

So now you know all about the goodness, care & tradition that can be in one humble British bun – reassuring for those New Year healthy diets!

Have a great week xx