Peter Doughty-Cook from Peter Cooks Bread on why baking bread is such a satisfying job, and why Herefordshire’s the perfect place to do it
Tell us what you do and why you do it.
I’m a baker – a baker of real bread. Baking bread is one of the most satisfying jobs in the world. I love taking basic raw ingredients, such as flour, water and salt, and turning them into a delicious product that could become the centrepiece of someone’s dinner table.
How did the business come about?
I left my previous bakery after winning a couple of national bakery awards as I thought that would be a good time to start my own business. I wanted to do it with a business partner though, so I found Shona (pictured with Peter), who was also a member of the Real Bread Campaign. We baked together and then delivered our loaves and began to find our first customers.
Why’s your location ideal for your business?
It’s ideally situated for getting our products out to Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Also, there’s a great network of food and drink producers in the area who are willing to share ideas and help each other out.
What do you love most about your products?
They’re all made with integrity. We don’t take any shortcuts, and we don’t use any concentrates, additives or ‘dough improvers’. In fact, we don’t use anything that you wouldn’t have in your kitchen at home.
What makes your bakery unique?
It’s the people who work with us that make us unique. Other bakeries use similar methods and recipes, but no one has the people that we have. Everyone who works here at Peter Cooks Bread is totally committed to making our bread and pastries as good as they can be every single day.
What do you like to team your bread and pastries with?
For me, it’s usually something simple like a good cheese with our sourdough. Last night I had some Gorwydd Caerphilly from my friend Henry’s deli in Ludlow, and that was just perfect.
Describe your typical customer.
There really isn’t a typical customer, but what all our customers share is a passion for real bread. They believe that it’s worth searching out our products. Maybe because they think it’s better for the community or the planet to buy from a small business, but ultimately it’s because our products taste bloody good!
What’s been your proudest achievement so far?
Creating this business and growing it over the last five and a half years so that it now employs more than 15 people.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The most difficult part of running an artisan bakery is achieving consistency. It’s easy to make a dozen loaves well, but to scale the production up into the hundreds, and then do that day after day through all the seasons and every weather is really hard.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to expand our range of bread and pastries and maybe develop some other sweet treats as well. I’m also exploring the idea of growing our own wheat on the smallholding where I live with my wife Mavis and our family, near Bromyard. I want to restore the connection between what we eat and the land it’s grown on, and grow a distinctive variety that’s individual to us.
• Peter Cooks Bread, The Mint Shed, The Hop Pocket, Bishops Frome, Worcester WR6 5BT. Tel: 01885 490487. For stockist details, visit www.petercooksbread.co.uk
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