Meet the maker: Baking beauties

Christmas is an especially busy time for many businesses, but the festive season really turns up the heat up in a bakery.

Meet the maker: Baking beauties

Christmas is an especially busy time for many businesses, but the festive season really turns up the heat up in a bakery. Richard Bertinet, an experienced chef, baker, author and cookery school tutor who runs the popular Bertinet Bakery in Bath, is in the process of finalising his festive product range. 'Our Christmas puddings are well under way and we will be offering all of the traditional favourites, including our frangipane-topped mince pies, stollen, amaretti biscuits and new for this year we'll be making individual Christmas cakes.'
As a French chef hailing from Brittany, Richard admits that Christmas pudding was never part of the celebrations during his childhood. 'Christmas pudding is unique to the UK. In France, we would more traditionally have a bûche de Noël, which is sponge rolled with a pastry cream and then covered in marzipan and chocolate, and the other is a nougat glace.' But for fans of a traditional British pud, what are Richard's tips for success? 'Good ingredients are definitely the best starting point and my secret ingredient is to use rum rather than brandy. Once you have made your pudding mix, leave it to macerate overnight in order to really develop the full flavour.'
As for New Year resolutions, Richard is hoping to convert even more people to his new sourdough tin loaves, which are now available in white and malted wheat varieties from Waitrose. 'The idea behind the new sourdough products is to offer a real alternative to commercial sliced bread, but with no additives, preservatives or improvers,' says Richard. 'You can now have a sourdough bread that is great for sandwiches, fits perfectly in the toaster and yet contains only flour, water and sea salt – there is nothing quite like it on the market. My main aim is to make great bread accessible to as many people as possible.'
Of course, we all know homemade cakes and bread taste better, but why does Richard think we've all been bitten by the baking bug in recent years? 'I think baking is a bit magical. As a child I was always fascinated by what happened behind the counter at the baker's shop. I loved the idea that it is possible to take a pile of dried ingredients and create something absolutely delicious. But baking is also really grounding. It's allabout home and family and something comforting.'
Richard admits he even watches Great British Bake Off on occasion and has appeared on Extra Slice with Jo Brand a few times. But could he see himself joining Paul Hollywood on the judging team?
'It's a great show. No one has called yet but I love to share my passion for baking, so never say never!'

To find out more about Richard's bakery and cookery school in Bath, go to www.bertinet.com.

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