Food News

Tap­ping into the trend for ar­ti­san bak­ing

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

The pop­u­lar­ity of The Great Bri­tish Bake Off has seen such a rise in ar­ti­san bak­ing that it has changed the mar­ket for tra­di­tional millers like Matthews Cotswold Flour.

Based in Shipton-un­der-wy­ch­wood, this fam­ily-run busi­ness has been in the Even­lode Val­ley since 1912 and still re­lies on tra­di­tional equip­ment in­clud­ing stone mills. The mill is owned and run by Paul Matthews and his son Ber­tie, the fifth and sixth gen­er­a­tion of flour millers in a busi­ness launched by Fred­er­ick Matthews 106 years ago.

Matthews pro­duces a wide range of flours us­ing authen­tic stone­ground and mod­ern roller mill tech­niques in the orig­i­nal build­ing.

The com­pany re­cently launched two new flour prod­ucts – stone­ground whole­meal and Cana­dian Great White – re­flect­ing a grow­ing trend for ar­ti­san bak­ing and the rise of her­itage brands with high prove­nance val­ues.

Af­ter do­ing a Busi­ness Eco­nomics de­gree and work­ing in Lon­don and New York, Ber­tie re­turned to Shipton-un­der­wych­wood last year to join the fam­ily mill.

He has brought a re­newed en­ergy and pas­sion to the busi­ness and he has big plans for grow­ing the brand.

The trend for health­ier ‘real’ bread, com­bin­ing a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the qual­i­ties of dif­fer­ent grains and a pas­sion for ar­ti­san bak­ing, has changed the mar­ket for in­de­pen­dent millers. Peo­ple are dis­cov­er­ing that there is a huge dif­fer­ence be­tween a hand-crafted loaf and one made us­ing the Chor­ley­wood process, the method in­tro­duced in the 1960s to pro­duce

fac­tory-made bread in a shorter time, us­ing lower-protein wheat. It’s a process that still pro­duces around 80% of the bread in the UK but things are chang­ing, ac­cord­ing to Ber­tie.

“Peo­ple are only just re­dis­cov­er­ing what bread is like when it hasn’t been made us­ing the Chor­ley­wood process. They don’t need to eat mass pro­duced bread made from lower qual­ity flour where chem­i­cal en­zymes are added to make the bread rise quickly and evenly. They can make their own bread, where wild yeast makes the bread rise and helps give it a de­li­cious flavour.”

Ber­tie says the mill also has a unique at­mos­phere that makes a dif­fer­ence to the flour be­ing pro­duced. Flour takes on some of the at­mos­phere of the mill it was ground in and the farm it was grown on, be­cause grain has to have just the right mois­ture level to make good flour, and mois­ture comes from the air and ground.

“Our mill is sur­rounded by trees and fields. We can lit­er­ally watch the grain grow­ing and the mill isn’t air-con­di­tioned or her­met­i­cally sealed off from the out­side.

“As a smaller mill we are less in­dus­tri­alised and our milling sim­pler. We can still check by hand each batch of flour, touch it and feel it as it goes through the milling process from grain to flour. Not many mills can do that nowa­days.

“We’re also buy­ing grain from the same farm­ing fam­i­lies my grand­fa­ther and great grand­fa­ther bought from, still hav­ing din­ner with them as they’re old fam­ily friends.

“It’s part of what makes work­ing in the fam­ily busi­ness so spe­cial. You feel a deep con­nec­tion with the land and the peo­ple.

“I came back to the busi­ness be­cause I adore liv­ing the Cotswolds. I was born and brought up just across the road from the mill, and I love it here.

“I’m the fifth of eight chil­dren but all my broth­ers and sis­ters have ca­reers and com­mit­ments so it fell to me to join the busi­ness and I love be­ing a part of the mill’s next gen­er­a­tion.” www.fw­p­matthews.co.uk

Ber­tie and Paul Matthews

Pack­ing at Matthews Cotswold Flour

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