Lockeridge Artisan Baker, Dylan Chambers has not only established a dedicated group of regular customers in the Kennet Valley villages and Marlborough for his excellent sourdough (a range now extended to include numerous other additions to the tantalising loaves such as pizzas, doughnuts etc. that emerge from the doors of Baking Chambers in the heart of the village), but he and his skills have been recognised by ‘Taste of The West‘, the largest independent regional food group in the UK. And his ‘Super Seeded Sourdough’ has been crowned with a coveted ‘Gold’ award.
Dylan has always been a baker, but a baker who developed his skills through a love of bread mainly for him and his family to enjoy. But……
The pandemic. Then lockdown. So, an opportunity.
Friends who had become acquainted with Dylan’s scrumptious bread suggested that others should be able to enjoy it as well, particularly his sourdough.
“I’ve always been obsessed with the world of food, wine, how things are made, sourcing fabulous ingredients.” Dylan told marlborough.news. “I’ve been baking bread for over 10 years now, went on a course at the School of Artisan Food to brush up my act, and then a lot of ‘learning by doing’. Followed by expert advice from a Venuzlean consultant, a sourdough expert Baker on Zoom!”
Initially Dylan started by selling sourdough and other breads, followed by doughnuts and pizza to those very local, leaving all outside in a wine case, with an honesty box, and such was the response that demand began to snowball.
A big decision arrived – continue baking for love and enjoyment, or channel that skill, love and satisfaction into something larger so that many more could come to appreciate and enjoy?
Dylan’s family – his wife Claire and their two daughters were quickly becoming fed up with the family kitchen being overtaken with dough tubs and bannetons (bread shaping baskets). So – the Baking Shed was born.
With the help of a skilled local builder, Andy Bunce (who also comes from a family of very practiced bakers) the garage evolved into into a micro-bakery. And local expert furniture maker Mark ‘Bary’ Paradise, added a beautiful solid Ash workbench. From where the sourdough is born.
“The mission was to make the best bread I could, however long that journey would take” explained Dylan. “It had to be right: healthy, contemporary, retarded (i.e. proved chilled 20+ hours), moist – high hydration (water to flour %), sourcing 100% organic, sustainable flour, inc. heritage strains, that had a depth of flavour but not filled with freaking massive holes for all your lovely salted butter to decorate your best china.” he added, accidentally giving away some of his trade secrets to the rest of us.
“The majority of so-called Sourdough bread is nothing like this, commercial bakers often use dehydrated leaven powder that’s simply added to a mixer, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has not yet woken up to the fact, UK food labelling laws are in many cases no longer fit for purpose & we need to update and overhaul labelling and standards fit for the 2020’s, that are legible, rigorous, informative and do not list endless food chemists jargon iterations inc. ‘E’ numbers.”
What do his customers think? Marlborough.news was told by one (now regular) customer that Dylan’s sourdough “Is the best this side of Chestnut in San Francisco”, the customer adding that “good sourdough here is as rare as hen’s teeth, so Dylan has probably got a stock of those as well..!”
Feedback comments include “The best Sourdough bread I’ve ever tasted” and, “We all agreed that was hands down the BEST pizza we’ve ever had – thank you so much! We will be back next Friday”
Whilst to start with it was just local residents who had the opportunity to sample and enjoy Dylan’s, later ‘Baking Chambers’ produce, gradually other customers – some retailers – are taking all that he can create.
Dylan’s view on his award? “Winning the ‘Taste of the West’ Gold for the seeded sourdough is reassurance and confirmation I’m on the right track.” His many West Kennet Valley local customers would echo that…..