Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Yearly archive for 2015

Time flies when you’re having fun!

How can Christmas be just NEXT WEEK???!!!! It’s been nothing less than manic in Rex the last few months.    A lot of triumphs, and as always a few struggles.  So what are we celebrating during this festive time?

    1. We’re on the telly!
      Lots of lovely Rex customers know that we were involved in a few bouts of filming this summer, including most excitingly a serial looking at famous people’s locale and the foods they grew up with.  Rex Bakery was asked to be part of Russell Grant’s feature.  He grew up in Harefield, so the producers thought it would be a good idea to compare Chorleywood Bread process which was invented nearby, with the Real Bread that the Rex Baker specialises in.  There was a generous 4 minute segment dedicated to Rex & baking, which sits on on our Vimeo account just now.  It was a GREAT chance to show what the quality of artisan baking means for texture & ease of eating.  We know very many customers, existing & new, watched it – the power of TV is incredible

Rex Bakery ‘My Life on a Plate’ from Rex Bakery on Vimeo.

 

2. Here Cafe in Berkhamsted

We have been supplying this lovely cafe in 1 of our favourite nearby market towns for sometime now.  As they have the space & morning capacity to offer bread, and we share many of the same principles & ethos, we have decided to start retailing from their shelves.  It’s very exciting to start to try build your business & reputation all over again, provides many learnings.  For instance, meeting lots of lovely Berko-ites who’ve just tasted the “Best sausage roll in the world” for the 1st time.  Or are relieved to find organic, local artisan bread – made that morning!  We have told residents that we’re Bucks Best Artisan Bakery – but not sure anyone in Herts cares that much!  So it will take some time to establish ourselves, and of course we 1st have to get through..

 

3. Christmas!

This year in Rex we managed to get our beautiful & subtle (ok, we’re biased) lighted curtain sheets up in the window in the 1st week of December.  We’ve just started new Rex shortbread Mince Pies.  And of course stollen bites & Stollens are selling out as fast as we can produce them.  Many of you have asked about Christmas opening times & Christmas ordering.

Our opening hours over Christmas:

Thurs 24th Dec 7-2.30.
Fri 25th, Sat 26th, Sun 27th Dec CLOSED.
Mon 28th 9-2.
Tues & Wed 7 – 5
Thurs 31st 7-1.30.
Fri 1st Jan CLOSED
Sat 2nd 8-4

It’s aStollen 6305 300 pix great idea to order your Christmas & New Year bread & baked items in advance.  We will bake a large range for 23 & 24 December, but if you would like to be assured of your order please

  1. pop into Rex and ask for an order form.  Hard copies available in the next day or so
  2. click here for our Google doc order form link.  You can copy the sheet, complete & bring back into Rex for payment

 

We are asking that all orders are pre-paid this year – it got very complicated last year & inevitably there were 1 or 2 that didn’t get picked up and others who were let down.  We hope we simplified it!  All the best sellers are available but please contact us at hello@rexbakery.com if there was something specific you were hoping for that isn’t there, and we will do our best to help

 

4) Dr Challoners Girls School Christmas Fayre

The Rex Baker donated his time to run Master classes in bread baking & biscuit making/ decorating.  The Fayre raised >£14k which is fantastic as they are under-resourced versus many local schools and the classes were over-subscribed so a successful earner in their own right!  And the Rex stall sold a LOT of sausage rolls, thank you Girls & your Families 🙂

5) Lots & lots of lovely TripAdvisor reviews

Following our last email inviting feedback, we were overwhelmed by the lovely comments & star ratings from so many of you.  This is highly appreciated. We never forget you have a choice – and now SO MUCH choice in Little Chalfont!  However, if you had anything you wanted to share with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us on hello@rexbakery.com.  We do take feedback on board very seriously, we are still so small that it’s really helpful to us:)

And what’s been more challenging?

Well 1 challenge was that having run the numbers, and reviewed all the cost inflation we’ve tried to absorb in the past 3 years since Glenn first popped up – we realised we were overdue in putting through a price increase on some of our lines. We haven’t updated all of our products, we’ve been very careful to benchmark with everything else in multiple locations and really thought long & hard about this.  Probably for too long! If Rex is to stay for the long term, we need to make a fair return 🙂   Any of us owners or staff are happy to talk to you directly if you wanted to understand any more about this decision.

Otherwise, happy Christmas ordering & see you before Christmas Eve 2.30!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Milking it – 3 reasons for you to choose Rex coffee

best coffee in little chalfont

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The best bread & coffee” – We have a lot of lovely comments like this from dear Friends of Rex, and Quality is a cornerstone of the Rex philosophy.  Here’s 3 Rex coffee principles:

latte, cappucino, monmouth coffee, artisan, latte art1) Freshly ground Monmouth coffee

We’ve blogged before about how important it is to us to offer you delicious Monmouth coffee – we are one of the few places outside London & Monmouth Street in Covent Garden that you can obtain this wonderful, original artisan coffee.  Lots of you ask us about buying these expensive beans & yes, we might just sell them on one day!

The quality & freshness of the ground coffee is crucial to Rex hot drinks, but so is the milk in any white coffee.

 

2) Unhomogenised Guernsey cow local Farm milk

Milk has been in the news a lot recently, but not often for good reasons.  Back in the day we were bombarded by Milk Marketing Board ad slogans such as “full of natural goodness”, “milk’s gotta lotta bottle”, “drinka pinta milka day”.  Traditionally, Milk has been strongly recommended for athletes to drink & bulk up in place of water, due to its natural protein properties. And today fizzy drinks companies are planning to diversify into versions of milk.  But it’s most likely that we will hear how unnatural it is to drink Milk after weaning, all about dairy intolerance, about milk farmers’ poor pay by the supermarkets.

Many lovely Friends of Rex are advised to cut out dairy first if they are suffering digestion issues and we do offer almond & soya milks (and Chocolate Buns!) suitable even for confirmed dairy intolerants.  But we were very careful to choose Lacey’s Farm Guernsey Cow milk for several critical reasons:

  • a. Guernsey cow milk is naturally fuller, richer & golden in colour but not fattier.  So just absolutely delicious in Rex latte, cappuccino, flat white or even with our artisan teas, Americano, or Hot Chocolates.  Lacey’s Farm told us that Guernsey milk “contains 12% more protein, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15%more calcium than average milk”  Wow!!  It’s practically a super-food!
  • b. Lacey’s Farm is local.  Located just miles away outside High Wycombe, you can be rightly proud to support a truly local multi-generation family business that’s thrived since 1884.  We can all even visit their herd of pedigree long lashed caramel coloured cows, who eat food that’s 95% grown on the farm, with some extra brewer’s grain & molasses thrown in on top!  That really is farm to table.
  • c. Our Lacey’s Farm Milk is kept naturally unhomogenised.  Of course it’s all pastuerised to remove pathogens, but further Homogenisation has been slated as a nasty unnecessary industrial process that renders the milk fat particles & undigestible proteins so tiny that they permeate your intenstine & pass into your blood stream, causing dietary problems & higher cholesterol.
    Honestly we like the cream on top of the milk!  With a shake of the bottle it disperses anyhow.  It’s hard to find healthy unhomogenised milk in your supermarket because they like the longer shelf life, but we prefer natural in Rex 🙂
  • d. We are paying wa-yyyyy more for Lacey’s Farm Milk than most folks pay for basic milk in the supermarket.   But we do that because dairy farmers deserve a fair price for a quality product to make a decent living.  When did we stop valuing milk as a nation?  On average big business pays just 23.5p per litre for milk today (less than 50p for a 4 pint) which is shocking.   A small bottle of still water costs all of us more!!  As Rex is still a small self-sufficient family business which survives partly thanks to coffee sales, it’s a big profit decision to pay several times over the price of milk that other coffee shops use – but we feel strongly that this is the right thing for farmers, Rex friends’ health, our coffee quality.

pain au raisin, danish pastry, whirl3) A drink’s too wet without one – Rex Patisserie that’s artisan, organic, handmade on the premises

To ensure truly the best coffee experience, many Friends choose to also eat Rex pain au raisin, croissants & sausage rolls and more, all of which are unique to Rex in Little Chalfont.  We don’t buy anything in, we make all of our products ourselves, fresh with the very best organic Shipton Mill flour, highest quality patisserie butter & highly skilled pastry making methods.  We are really proud & grateful to have been voted Best Artisan Bakery in Buckinghamshire – and our organic Patisserie is part of the reason why!

So we know you have so much choice but hope you will continue to love your best Rex coffee AND its special milk 🙂

Does good news come in 3’s?

Does good news come in 3’s?

They say that bad news comes in 3, but this week 3 is our magic number, check us out! 🙂

1) We had the good news from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that following a complaint from little old us, some questionable advertising claims by a chain bakery had been dropped

rb_logoWe had challenged whether “The Home of Read Bread” slogan complied with the Real Bread Campaign’s definition of Real Bread.  To comply, there would need to be no use of so-called processing aids or other artificial additives and we didn’t believe they weren’t used.  We also challenged claims that loaves were ‘hand-kneaded’, and ‘additive-free’.  The draft recommendation by the ASA investigation team was that all these claims were misleading, because the advertiser admitted that its dough contained E300 and E516 additives in their flour.

The Rex Baker was interviewed and said: “We are delighted with the outcome as advertising in the food industry is full of weasel words and unfounded claims.” We hope that other food retailers might now think twice before implying their bread is something that it’s not…

2) And then….. we were announced as Best Artisan Bakery in Buckinghamshire!  This is for the Bucks awardFood & Drink Awards 2015 and we want to say a BIG thank you to everyone that kindly voted for us, there were obviously very many of you!!  We are SO chuffed considering we’re only just 1 years old lol!

The awards also featured some of or wholsesale customers in categories like Best Deli, Independent food business and so on – and as the vast majority of Bucks winners seem to have come from our local Chiltern District, it seems we are developing into a fine foodie corner!

3) To top it all… From the wee small hours of this morning, a BBC crew & producers have been busily filming the Rex Baker hard at work at No. 4 Chenies Parade.  It’s for a programme presented by James Martin, and is about food memories (also important to us at Rex) – we believe this episode will be about Russel Grant, who lives quite locally in Harefield, reminiscing about bread.  The programme might be going to compare the horribly fast Chorleywood Bread Process which was developed in an Institute just up the road, with the slow, original way we make our Organic White Tin – and of course what that means for the sliced white fast bread product versus our Real Bread.    As probably the nearest artisan bakery to the Chorleywood process institute (how ironic!), it seems we were the obvious choice.

sandwich tin, long loaf, white

Thank you to all the lovely Friend of Rex customers who were filmed buying & talking about their daily bread this morning – hope you make the segment!!   All those many hours of filming will come down to a couple of minutes if we’re lucky, but we’ll certainly be watching out for it!

 

As always in the world of Rex, despite the amazing awards success, things can be a tad bumpy.  Just as we are expanding every day – we have been very badly let down by a new night baker who quit before he really began so the Rex Baker is night baking again until we can sort.  In addition, we will see quite a changeover in front of house staff shortly due to family issues, summer holidays, university courses etc kicking in.  So if you know of anybody who wants to

Then do email us hello@rexbakery.com for an application form because we have a lot of vacancies.    As you can imagine, we do need wonderful local staff to keep going argh!

Have a great week xx

 

 

 

 

Elect & Vote for “Quality”!

Anybody that’s visited our shop &  spent any time talking to the Rex Baker, his wife, the staff – will hopefully pick up how very passionately we feel about Rex quality.  But what does that really mean for you? Well:

We are the modern version of a truly old fashioned baker, who cares deeply about we sell, taking time to make our food properly and only putting into it exactly what’s needed.  Our 4 PRINCIPLES

1/ ALWAYS FRESH:  We make & bake bread every single night of the week so that our customers receive the very best of our produce every single morning.
2/ HEALTH:  We follow only long fermentation methods of baking because we think that’s more digestible & healthy. And we only hand shape our breads.
3/ ORGANIC:  We use only organic flour, use the minimum number of ingredients necessary, which is often just flour, water, salt & a leaven. No preservatives , improvers or other chemicals to artificially extend the life or increase the size of our loaf.
4/ BEST INGREDIENTS:  We make everything we can for sale in our bakery, even down to the mayonnaise in our sandwiches. We search constantly for the most special ingredients, local or artisan where possible and let the availability of those ingredients shape our produce.

patisserie butter

Highest quality? best ingredients?  Why? The truth is that the Rex Baker has already had a ton of opportunities to replace the very expensive ingredients he chooses to use, with ingredients that aren’t so expensive.  We all know that there are cafes, chains & shops all over the UK and  even right in Little Chalfont that do use cheap ingredients and despite that, think the food they make is good enough for you.

But it just isn’t possible to make good food from inferior ingredients.  

That’s why the Rex baker is obsessed with buying the best he can find, and frequently is rather extravagant in what he chooses to use in Rex.  He loves to find the widest range of flours, ingredients, combinations.  Just now the Rex baker is researching:

  • rosewater from Iran
  • an English patisserie butter (80% water plus) source
  • new  flours – wheat, rye, spelt, kamut…  Hear him talking about our varieties of organic Shipton Mill & beyond flour range here:

We would rather charge more to cover costs & end up selling fewer of a particular line because some will surely balk at the price point – than sell anything less than the highest quality, just to hit a low target price.  To us, Value is an equation of price & quality – not just low priced.

It’s quite a simple guiding principle – create the very best food you can in health & taste & uniqueness – and only if it surpasses own your high expectations, will it sustain customer demand.  We always hoped that there would be enough people that felt like we did – that a good bakery can enhance your day & your diet.  Anything less for Rex friends would be an unacceptable compromise.

Before we even opened the Rex doors, we were warned that Little Chalfont would be a disaster location – locals weren’t discerning enough to care how their bread was made, what was in it, how it tasted.  Well… not only are we finding Little Chalfont is voting with its feet for highest quality……  but we are attracting customers from an unimaginably wide geographic area.  People travel to Rex from Bourne End, Bushey, Berkhamsted; from Harefield, Hazelmere, High Wycombe – very exciting to us!

That’s why we are submitting Rex products to the Great Taste Awards.  This means that THIS WEEK we are gearing up to make a special limited batch of Rex Stollen for judges’ tasting.   We really like this kind of expert judge assessment rather than popularity voting (although thank you all for your votes for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) . So whilst thank goodness we’re squarely 6 months away from true Stollen Season – if you fancy a stollen – order yours here now!  1st come, 1st served until Stollens sell out

A limited batch of May Rex Stollens will be ready from Wednesday 13th May in the shop – and are reputed to last 40 days (though we still don’t know anybody that waited that long to finish one :))

You be the judge!  You can review our Stollen or any other product on the website at any time – and if you do so, you might even get to pick up a freebie in our Review pick of the month!

stollen, christmas cake, almond cake, fruit cake

Have a great week xx

Let’s get “Fresh”

Let’s get “Fresh”

Fresh is a much abused term in the British Food industry.  Its use is designed to make you feel you are getting something created very recently  – but have you ever stopped to think what some of soundbites truly mean?

 Freshly baked – Stays Fresh for longer – Fresh food – Fresh from the oven –
Fresh farm vegetables – taste so fresh- and we mean fresh – Fresh as a daisy

Somehow Fresh conjures up the concept of nature, green/ organic, health, cooked with attention,  just-made from raw… Unfortunately for innocent shoppers, the  fact is that food producers are allowed to use “Fresh” in a way that conceals their true process.  Can you believe that all of the below are “fresh”?

  • Highly processed ingredients mix with Preservatives which inhibit natural food degradation, even for months
  • Food items that are “gassed” at the start & then preserved in special chemical plastic film
  • Items made an age ago, transported in freezer lorries for sale or even baked off in-store. These are often made with flour with added “improvers” (look out for this euphemism)

You can conduct your own experiment at home – any bread that is still “fresh” after 3 days, is almost certainly unnaturally preserved. Any bread left in a bag which doesn’t mould after a week has preservatives.

The American FDA approves  “fresh” even for foods with waxes & coatings, post-harvest pesticides, mild chlorine or acid washed or if treated with a level of ionizing radiation.  That’s reassuring then…

This week an article was published about an unwrapped chocolate muffin bought in a coffee shop chain.  It was bought in January this year, sat open on a desk in an office atmosphere since then, and some 6+ weeks later was still suspiciously squishy, moist, unmouldy &  “fresh” when tried.  What on earth was in it to keep it like that?!  How long had it been sitting in the coffee shop for sale since it was “freshly made”?! Nature’s progress for a real food muffin should have been staling, followed by normal moulding.  It could take several days & even a week to naturally degrade – but degrade it should have done!

The irony is that these foods may have been charged at low price points –but given how cheap to produce & store, undoubtedly the products are over-priced for what they actually represent.
Anyone remotely concerned about health- good digestion – quality food couldn’t possibly want to consume such a product.

But we also promise “Always Fresh” in Rex!  How is our food provenance process any different from this?

pan gallego, spanish bread, spain bread, sourdoughOur philosophy is to promise that we are hand-making our products ourselves, from end to end on the premises, every single morning.   Our flour is only 100% organic with nothing unnatural in it to artificially speed up the development or the size or how long the breads last.

What does that practically mean for the Rex range?

All bread* , viennoiserie*, buns & scones are baked  the day they are put out to sale & if they don’t sell that day, we discard them.  Be reassured that everything we make freezes well in your home for future use, if properly wrapped & defrosted in plastic.  We won’t ever re-sell day old bread to you though – there will be a new bake that night instead!

*100% sourdough Rye wrapped in clingfilm betters over the hours so that may have been made 1-2 days before
2 x hazelnut croissant, twice baked* Twice-baked viennoiserie requires pre-made croissants & pains au chocolat – they are then transformed to a delicious confection using sugar syrup & new ingredients

We make all the ingredients for the daily sandwiches and toasties & soups ourselves every few days – we roast our own free range chicken & Mediterranean vegetables, we make our own pickle, hummus, mayonnaise, stock.  We even pull pork & salt beef ourselves!  You can trust us that we are meticulous with pre-washing all the salads & vegetables we buy in before use – we don’t want anything from hygiene risks through to additives interfering in Rex food.

Biscuit bars & cakes – we are selling more & more of these in Rex in 2015 and they could have a natural shelf life of many days & then even longer in your home.  To be honest, we are remaking all the time as they don’t last very long in Rex – and probably even less in your homes!

chocolate brownieSo you can be sure that Always Fresh really does mean what we all think Fresh should mean, in Rex.  We’ve thought long & hard about providing the very best quality & Real freshness on your doorstep – Oh, and about being seriously yummy 🙂

Have a great week!

Better never stops

Who knew, we’ve made it AND SOME, well into 2015!   One year ago we still just had an unconverted empty old carpet shop with the Rex Baker producing out of our home garage working bakery for a Saturday morning pop-up.  Whilst that was all quite a challenge in itself… we had no idea what was to come!

Rex artisan bakeryvillage day, rex bakery pop up

We’ve worked relentlessly this past year with a vision of the highest possible standard in baked products and a bakery that makes Little Chalfont a better place to be.  In the process we have:

1)      Experienced the extraordinary kindness of so many local people

  • Thanks to the Villagers who placed regular orders & proved out that Little Chalfont truly values Real Bread made slowly
  • We love love love our Rex branding materials, volunteered by good friend & big London agency design chief Rick
  • Who else is in awe of our beautiful product photography, put together for our website by lovely Peter, who also shoots the most amazing luxury homes if anybody’s selling?!
  • Navigated the minefield of how to become an employer with the help of HR expert & super-mum Kanika (plus a lot of cold face learning along the way…)
  • We bent the ear of super-practical & paint-brush wielding Ben, organiser of the wonderful Adventure Talks.  We now exclusively support his favourite Neuroblastoma Society charity in memory of the loss of his dear son Alex

Sunday opening, Rex Artisan Bakery, Rex bakery little chalfontTo get established we worked with local village contacts & friends in building, carpentry, digital, electrics, Eat Inn… thank you all!

Two common themes.  First, it was a great help that the Rex Baker was in the heart of the local school & Westwood Park Football communities prior to become a baker – that local families network has really launched Rex, it surely took  a village to bring our bakery to life! 🙂  Second, our special supporters are all genius specialists in their chosen fields.  What a talent-filled village!  In the pursuit of the highest possible standards, better never stops

2)      overcome obstacles, even the seemingly insurmountable

  • Power-gate looked like a showstopper – we lost weeks & a lot of sleep when the Electricity board initially advised there was insufficient grid capacity in the parade to run our ovens
  • We lost our pricey new patisserie fridge to a dodgy courier who then conveniently went into liquidation. That was an expensive 4-figure write-off but what to do?  At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also still grumbling about losing out on a fake £50 …
  • After starting with a trusty blue cash tin for weeks, we’ve pioneered a useful cloud-based ipad till system with dinky mobile Bluetooth card machine – might look all cool & conceptual but the latter has proved way too flaky.  Avoid Adyen! We’ll be reverting to a more traditional, clunky but hopefully reliable docked method for payments very shortly
  • Our original night baker & friend Neil suddenly & tragically died at home 1 weekend in June, less than 3 months after we opened and the Rex Baker doubled shifted for an age whilst we sought a replacement.  In fact, due to staff turnover & shortages & inductions, illnesses, accidents, holidays…  he has continued to also night bake for parts of every week since, focusing on making our core Real Breads. Better never stops.
  • We have been been targeted by meddling officialdom – regarding licenses, tables, shop noise, health & safety checks, planning groups, you name it…  It’s amazing to discover how start-ups could simply drown under the red tape out there.  We’ll have a whingey blog another day on how Britain is so NOT open for new business unfortunately

3) Been judged & awarded to be amongst the best of British artisan bakers

world bread awardsWe were so excited to win so many gold, silver & bronze medals for our various breads, buns & Malt Loaf at the tiptree World Bread Awards 2014.  It blew the Rex Baker away to think that the selection of Rex goodies he personally made & transported up by Tube to the huge panel of expert judges to taste in Victoria, was deemed to be as high quality  & in some cases better than produce from the very best & most experienced names in artisan baking.  It was a lovely awards ceremony, but it was the next morning that the Rex Baker was well & truly moved when it was published how well he had done, so soon after opening.  But of course – better never stops.

4)     sharpened our plans for 2015

  • We like being judged for the standards we strive for so will keep seeking out Awards!  We’re less keen on the “popularity votes only” types like Bucks Best Bakery here – but hey, we were grateful to be nominated in the 1st place & will be humbled by any votes.  So please keep suggestions coming – we are especially looking for a Sausage Roll contest but haven’t found one yet!
  • Many of us were stunned when Wenzel’s chain opened up a few doors down from us in the Parade in November – how very dare they!  Whilst their low pricing approach appeals to some, our dear Rex Friends value our original long fermentation, hand-making methods with organic flour on our premises – but it has all made us think long & hard about our communications.  Does everyone understand the clear blue water between the “bakeries” in Little Chalfont? Lots more posters, pictures, awards & honest explanations of what makes us so special to come 🙂
  • belgium chocolate, belgian chocolate, hand tempered chocolate, artisan chocolateThere are SO MANY products in the pipeline – and always will be.  Here’s just a few of the simply delicious upcoming plans
    * Hand-tempered Belgian chocolate by Rex for Valentine’s Day and beyond – hearts, slabs, milk & white chocolate, mixed… extremely high quality, highest cocoa solids & simply delicious
    * Our new pie warmer can hold Pasties!  We’ve been sampling lots of Rex development versions – favourites so far include  Rump steak & vegetables pasty and cheese & onion vegetarian pasty.  mmmm.
    * A new shop fridge with Breakfast items such as Yoghurt with fruit & Rex-made granola;  a new waffle iron to make fresh Rex Waffles; Porridge…
    * Wraps, pizza, choux pastry dessert items, quiches, gateaux….  the list goes on
  • Wholesale has already become an exciting part of our business, with discerning local businesses choosing to seek us out because they share our high quality food values (and love our Sausage Rolls 🙂
  • We’re confident that wholesale will be a big, growing focus this year…

So as Better never stops, we plan to continue to grow – within our shop, outside it, in profile & most Sausage Rollscritically with you, our Dear Friends of Rex.
Thanks as always for your continued support & have a great week! xx