World Bread Awards 2015

Tiptree World Bread Awards 2015

by Sally Abé 16 October 2015

The Tiptree World Bread Awards attracts the country's keenest bakers from far and wide every year in the hope of winning the trophy for the best loaf. GBC's very own Sally Abé was there to judge the event.

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

Now in it’s third year, the World Bread Awards exist to champion both professional and amateur bakers alike. With no less than 17 categories and over 1000 entries we judges certainly had a great deal of loaves to try although, fortunately, there were 70 bread-savvy experts from across the industry to rise to the occasion. We were to judge on appearance, the bake, crumb, taste and texture.

I was assigned to sourdough, having first hand knowledge of what makes a good sourdough from serving it every night in the restaurant, I was delighted to be judging this category. The loaves had been whittled down to 40 (!) for us 8 judges to try, so we dutifully split off into pairs to judge 10 breads each before coming up with the final 8 contenders. There were many different entries, from traditional sourdough, to seeded, fruit and even a crazy multi-coloured curry flavoured loaf.

Once each pair had made their selections, this was when things got really tough. Trying to decide between 8 wonderful loaves of bread – all with their own unique qualities – was difficult, but there could only be one winner. The judging process was completely anonymous, and so once the decision had been made even we didn’t know who had won the prize for best sourdough 2015 until the awards later that night!

The awards ceremony was held at St John’s in Hyde Park, a glorious church laid out with long tables of various types of bread, cheese and jam for us to tuck into before the ceremony began. We washed the spread down with a range of British beers and cider as judges and contestants alike sat side by side to await the results.

Stephen Hallam (himself a Master Baker) kicked us off with a brief introduction to the awards before the young bakers winners were announced. Christopher Foster scooped up not only the winner of this category but the runner up prize too. His mum must have been beaming as she picked up her award for best scone – obviously baking runs in the family!

The winner of the sourdough category was Dean Arbel of the Bread Factory, his Dark rustic sourdough was a brilliant bake and really deserving of this accolade. Steven Winter managed to pocket 2 awards, Baguette and Real bread campaign but the biggest winner was Mark Bennett, an artisan baker based in Poole who managed to win four awards plus one runner up. Mark has over thirty years experience in baking and pâtisserie and has notched up many accolades over the years.

The overall winner was awarded to James Freeman with his London Bloomer for his Great British white, which the head judges believed outshone all the others on judging day. James owns the Victoria bakery in Enfield and is the great, great, great grandson of the business that was originally set up in 1820!

The winners received a trip to the Tiptree farm and most importantly the plaque to display proudly in their shop window, kitchen or mantlepiece to show that they were the upper crust of the baking world.