5 things about Thames Ditton Bakery, Surrey
AN INSIGHT INTO A SMALL VILLAGE BAKERY
I opened the doors of 16 High Street, Thames Ditton, in May 2021, and at the age of 52, I began my life as a baker. I had the full support of my wife and two sons – that and a loan from my uncle were all I needed. I quit my ‘job’ and went all in – I called it ‘the release’. This was my opportunity to apply everything I had learned, from my apprenticeship in The Carlton hotel in Cannes where I trained as a pastry chef, to my days as food development manager at RHS Wisley.
I always say we have the best customers in the world – so supportive from day one and patient with us because just-in-time baking is not an exact science. Suzie, who runs the antique shop down the road, and our neighbour Moya bring us freshly-cut rosemary weekly. I love it when we serve children, hopefully creating early food memories.
Sourdough is not a fad; it’s the oldest way to make bread, and despite the name, the bread generally isn’t sour. Sourdough does several things to make the bread better. It imparts a distinctive flavour, a tang, so it’s not bland. It lasts for days – the knack is to cover it with a cloth and put it in a paper bag – putting it in the fridge causes it to dehydrate and become stale. Also, the bread is easier to digest due to the fermentation process, which is long and slow and breaks down the enzymes.
BREAD WITH SOUL, CHEEKY LUNCHES, AND SWEET STUFF
We use three different doughs to make our range of house bread:
· House sourdough, containing a small amount of malted flour, is our best-selling bread by far – a real crowd-pleaser;
· Pain de Campagne, a rustic round loaf with tonnes of flavour, is the kind of bread you find in rural France – full of character, chewy and crusty;
· White sourdough, with its delicate crust and ample soft crumb, is the perfect sandwich and toast ‘material’.
We rotate some specialty breads as we are too small to make a wide range every day, from buckwheat on Tuesday to Challah on Friday. Saturday is when the bakery is busiest, and we make Fougasse, a bread from where I grew up in southeast France and my mum’s favourite.
During the week, our busiest time is lunch, when we offer pasties, sausage rolls, savoury tarts and sandwiches made with our very own flutes (a thinner version of our popular baguettes).
Our sweet range is small but to the point – carrot cake, banana cake, and double choc cookies are firm favourites. We always struggle to make enough!
The bakery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, but one day I’d like to be able to open seven days a week, as well as on Friday and Saturday evenings for pizza. I see this endeavour as something more meaningful and long-lasting than the business it is today. I hope that the bakery will be part of Thames Ditton village forever, serving our community and bringing deliciousness to people’s lives.