Vienna Bakery is celebrating National Craft Bakers Week by inviting Islanders to taste the passion that goes into craft bakery products.
Organised by the National Association of Craft Bakers, of which Vienna Bakery is a member, National Craft Bakers Week is about celebrating artisan bakery products made by independent local bakers. It runs from 8 to 13 October.
Founded in 1961 by Bob and Peggy Dodge, when they opened a traditional bakery in Georgetown originally designed by Henri Ori a well-known local French baker. Vienna Bakery is still a family-run business where the traditional skills of the master baker are combined with the techniques of a modern European bakery.
Proprietor David Dodge is passionate about his craft and in promoting well-baked bread as an essential part of the daily diet.
He said: ‘Bread is probably the one staple food eaten by people of every race, culture and religion the world over. This is because bread is good for you and is recognised as an important part of a healthy moderate diet; particularly in countries such as our close neighbours, France, because it contains many of the important nutrients required for good health.’
National Craft Bakers Week is being celebrated all over the British Isles, but Mr Dodge is firmly putting the emphasis on Jersey’s traditional baking products such as the cabbage loaf and Wonders, and the influence French bakery traditions have on the Island. He is also extolling the simplicity and quality of craft bakery.
‘As with all who follow the skills of the master baker, our philosophy is simple: use only the best ingredients and allow all the time it takes to make fabulous fresh bread. We knead and ferment the dough slowly, then bake thoroughly to serve the Island fresh bread every day. The passion we put into everything we do is in the quality of our products,’ he said.
The week unites bakers from across the nation in the celebration craft baking skills. For craft bakers it is a chance to share their baking passion with their local community. For Islanders it is the opportunity to taste Vienna Bakery products at the shop in the Central Market.
Now in its third year, National Craft Bakers Week reflects a growing interest in craft and home baking and artisan bread making as reflected in the popularity of BBC 2’s The Great British Bake Off and the Hairy Bikers Bakeathon, which celebrated the traditions of European bread making.
Mills to grind grain are recorded from the 11th century as being among the Island’s oldest occupied sites. Over the centuries, as many as 47 watermills were recorded located alongside the Island’s 12 main streams, with a dozen alone in St Peter’s Valley. The heyday of the miller was probably from 1800 to 1860, when imported wheat from the Baltic was ground in Jersey, and the flour exported across the Atlantic.
In the days when local bakers baked on a Sunday, they provided an essential community service by allowing the ovens to be used to bake the traditional Jersey Bean Crock (les pais au fou) traditionally eaten by Island families on the day of rest.
In 1945 there were 50 bakeries in Jersey; now there are less than ten but the traditions of craft baking are still very strong.