A family bakery has toasted success with a new range of sourdough bread that is helping to draw shoppers back onto the High Street.
The handcrafted loaves, bloomers and baguettes, freshly baked each day by Chatwins, have proved a hit with bread-lovers across Cheshire where the firm’s shops are a familar sight in town centres.
And Shawn Green (pictured) the top crust baker who ensures every slice is a taste sensation, knows why the products are giving supermarkets a run for their money.
He said: “Chatwins sourdough is as natural as it can be. The only ingredients in our starter are unbleached flour, water and a huge amount of time and patience.
“There’s no emulsifiers, fats or improvers and only 1% of the total ingredient is salt, very little in bread terms and we only use the best sea salt.
“The whole process from bakery to shelf is very slow. Over 24 man hours spread over two days go into creating each batch, from developing the starter and making the dough to resting, folding, shaping and finally baking fresh to go to our shops.
“Our starter includes naturally occurring bacteria called ‘lactobacilli’ built up over a long period by ‘refreshing’ daily. This has to happen every single day of the week, even on Christmas Day.
“It’s a labour of love but rewarding to hear customers say they can taste the difference to supermarket brands.”
Shawn, from a family of London bakers, joined Chatwins last year after 40 year career which has included working as a bakery manager for Tesco.
He added: “Supermarket sourdough is made faster and with less skill. So it’s my joy to work for Chatwins and use methods and recipes honed over several generations.”
The family business, founded by John Chatwin in 1913, still makes all its much-loved cakes, breads and pies in an original bakery on Market Street in Nantwich.
Fresh bread has been its staple since John first began delivering around Cheshire on his horse-drawn van.
Edward Chatwin, the latest family member at the helm, said: “Sourdough became fashionable in the early 2000s but it was actually first developed by the ancient Egyptians.
“Ours has dramatically less gluten than normal processed bread so is kinder to the gut. The crust is thicker, the inside more open and the flavour is what we call in the industry more ‘bready!
“We were late to the market with sourdough but we wanted to get it right. Our reputation was built on tasty bread and the feedback from new and regular customers has been very encouraging.
“It’s nice they are supporting the High Street by coming into town to buy their sourdough and visit other shops.
“Certainly this has been the case at our Nantwich High Street shop since its major revamp and there’s similar trend developing at our other branches.”
Chatwins has grown into a breakfast go-to with bacon baps and a new range of croissants selling fast from 8am each day.
It has completed a major rebrand of 24 shops, ending with its flagship branch on Nantwich High Street where customers queued to sample the bread.
Crusty sourdough bloomers, baguettes and seeded loaves were an instant hit and the range has now been rolled out to Chatwins Westminster Park and Hoole, Chester and Heswall and Bromborough, Wirral.
For more on the heritage of Chatwins and products made by the craft local baker go to www.chatwins.co.uk