Dunn's Bakery - London
Last year I was lucky enough to attend British Society of Baking conference. I had never attended any conferences before as this year is my first year attending ABST! There were many inspring speakers throughout the day and networking time. In fact, I got speaking to Christopher Freeman from Dunn's Bakery. This bakery offers many high end products ranging from celebration cakes to bread and confectionery goods. What I really apprecated was that they use local & fresh ingredients, supporting other independent businesses to create the finest products. It was Christophers grandfather, Robert Freeman, who traveled down from Northamptonshire to London in a hay wagon in 1820. By 1827 Robert opened Dunns Bakery in Crouch End.
Now, I already know what my end goal is, I would love to have my own business one day and Christopher really advised me on the best way possible to go about it. That was when I built up the courage to ask for some experience, I mean if you don't ask you don't get, right? Cut a long story short I was now in contact with Lewis Freeman, current bakery manager at Dunn's and is the SIXTH generation baker, wow! A few emails and phone calls later, I had secured a weeks experience at the bakery. Lewis was really helpful and sorted accommodation out for me with someone who works at the bakery.
My main love in bakery is bread, but my first shift was with the cake decorating department starting at 5:30am. I was nervous going straight into cakes as I have no confidence with creating visually stunning products. I was introduced to Neil who is the cake decorator, the first thing he asked me was if I had any cake decorating experience and all I said was ‘don’t let me pipe’. So he straight away reminded me how to make a piping bag and he spent the first hour with me just teaching me ways of piping. Each time I practiced I got better and better and I was so lucky to have that one on one experience with him. Neil made me feel so much more confident in myself and I learnt so many new skills and now I’m actually pretty good at piping!
As it was Easter week I got the chance to make the chocolate bunnies. Making and using chocolate at University is great for learning but seeing it all done a bigger scale was such an eye opener. Neil said to me "I’ve never trusted anyone else to do the chocolate bunnies so someone at University must be teaching you right" which just shows how important it is that we are learning these skills before going out into the industry.
The main thing I took away from my experience there was that I gained so much more confidence in myself. Going on placements is nerve racking and it’s scary staying in a city you don’t know well but you just have to believe in yourself and have fun! The skills I have learnt are so valuable now and the memories will stay for life.
The one piece of advice I would give to students in a similar position is to take the plunge and ask! After all, we are the up and coming bakers, if you specialise in a particular subject then go experience something you're not confident in. Knowledge is power, never stop learning :).
Thanks for reading, I hope this inspires you to get yourself out there more! I am so looking forward to ABST to network with even more industry experts!
Holly Weeks :)
This is only the Veganning of the bad puns!
If you hadn't guessed, this blog is all about Vegans specifically around baking. I've been a vegan for years now and when I first made the decision to change I actually found it difficult to find good recipes. I especially found it difficult in college/uni to find good recipes to substitute the dairy products that were needed for the recipes.
I then decided to experiment a lot more in baking, researching and trialling until I achieved a consistent outcome. However, with Veganism on the rise, the demand for good vegan bakery products has grown massively. In 2018 there were 600,000 vegans as opposed to the 150,000 in 2014!! This is why I started to research and experiment deeper with products that would be hard to find alternatives for. This year I have been working on creating my own vegan puff pastry, making my own dairy free butter using aquafaba, cocoa butter, coconut oil and olive oil, I can successfully report that it works and tastes delicious!
It's been said that if the world turned Vegan, it could save 8 million people by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, I mean...WOW! A plant based diet is great for maintaining healthy cholesterol and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and thats only a few of the benefits to consider.
Whether or not you decide to give the Vegan lifestyle a try, you should broaden your knowledge on the subject as the demands in the baking industry are changing all the time, give some recipes a try and share!
Last week our student rep from UCB wrote a blog talking about #WorldWaterDay and how sustainability affects bakery products. We also heard about another story from UCB related to #BrumGoesGreen2019 where a number of Universities in Birmingham were involved in sustainable living events for one week. In the bakery at UCB, students looked at making Recycled Bread which is an interesting subject that we thought you may also like to look at. The link to the blog on the recycled bread, along with some pictures of the bread being processed here so check it out and let us know what you think! Click here to view: RecycledBreadBlog
Have any other colleges or universities been involved in new ways to be more sustainable? We would love to hear from you and any stories you have to share as well!
Bakery students from around the UK and Ireland sharing their experiences