Switching from phones to flour isn’t your typical career move. But that’s exactly what Alan Davis did back in 1995, ditching his 26-year career as a BT engineer to follow a lifelong dream of starting an organic bakery. The Authentic Bread Company is the result of that dream: an award-winning family-run bakery, committed to the environment and to using traditional methods to make the absolute best-quality organic bread.
It all began in Alan’s converted garage, adjacent to the family home, where he began experimenting, baking, and tasting, to find a genuine alternative to the mass-produced and tasteless supermarket loaves. Nowadays, located on the idyllic-sounding Strawberry Hill, deep in the Gloucestershire countryside, the company is run by the whole Davis family. That’s Alan, his wife Jane, and four children: Emily, Alex, Sophie and Tim.
From a young age, the children remember family holidays swooning over the perfectly crusty baguettes in France, trips to the bakery to find new product inspiration, and even a family visit to a bread museum. For Alan and Jane, baking truly is a passion; they have always admired the French culture, baking bread fresh using traditional methods and eating it every day. The pair have also been at the forefront of the organic bakery movement since the 1990s, appearing on various TV shows to talk about the benefit of organic and divulge some of the secrets behind good bread.
Baking and a love of good food does seem to run in the family. Jane’s grandparents owned and ran the only bakery in Eastnor, Herefordshire, throughout the 1800s, while the Authentic Bread Company’s legendary Christmas pudding is said to have been passed down by Jane’s mother, Diana, from a secret family recipe.
Among their time-honoured methods of bread baking is the commitment to avoiding any ‘improvers’: the bread doughs are left to ferment on their own, meaning each handmade loaf takes over 24 hours to make, during which time the tastes and textures develop, giving the bread a character unlike that found in mass-produced bread.
It’s not just bread or baked goods that the company are becoming known for. After switching their two electric bread ovens for wood-burning ones, they are now used as a national example of how bakeries can reduce their electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint. On the packaging side of things, the family is trialling various types of home compostable packaging, dedicated to finding the right alternative that will ensure freshness and minimise wastage while avoiding plastic.
From mouth-watering mince pies at Christmas, to the deliciously nutty spelt loaves or the classic sourdough with the ideal crumpet-y texture and chewy crusts, it’s fair to say the Authentic Bread Company are now a firm favourite at Riverford. Not least for their commitment to constantly working with our recipe team to come up with tasty new treats, including vegan mince pies – which have become something of a guilty pleasure even among non-vegans!