This is a story about an independent family run bakery and keeping the foodie passions alive…read on…
A family affair
Natural Bread is a family business through and through. Growing up in France, Claire Véry was surrounded by a love of food from an early age. She recalls her fondness for the local markets, packed with vibrant colours of vegetables and the irresistible aromas of freshly baked bread. Her husband William Black shared her passion for natural home-made food and in particular for making bread without any additives or preservatives.
In 2006 they set up Appleton Farmers Market, having realised that there wasn’t a market locally to rival the markets Claire had loved in France. With nobody offering fresh bread in the area, they set about perfecting their own sourdough recipe. William gathered every book he could find on sourdough and travelled across Europe to seek inspiration from bakers in France, Italy and beyond. Sourdoughs are naturally leavened, using traditional slow fermentation techniques, which creates a distinctive and delicious fresh loaf that also keeps well for a several days.
Their home-made sourdough was introduced to the food enthusiasts of Oxfordshire at Appleton Farmers Market. Almost immediately they were selling out completely every market day and soon couldn’t keep up with production in their home kitchen. A pizza oven in their garage was brought back to life to keep up with the ever-increasing demand, until they moved to a commercial bakery in Botley.
The first Natural Bread shop was soon opened in Eynsham in 2008, followed by bakery shops & cafés in Oxford and Woodstock. Add to that a successful wholesale business supplying breads, rolls, pastries and cakes to restaurants, cafés & stockists across Oxfordshire and life became very busy for Claire and William.
Keeping the passion alive
Sadly, William Black passed away in December 2014, following a year-long battle with a brain tumour. Determined to continue with the vision that had inspired William, Claire has kept William’s love of good food and natural ingredients at the heart of Natural Bread.
Claire has been supported throughout by Bakery Director, Michal Sukiennik. Michal grew up in a small town close to the Polish city of Krakow. After leaving school he trained in the best Polish traditions of craft baking and qualified at the highest level as a Master Baker. In 2012 he brought his great skills & pride in making the finest sourdough loaves to Natural Bread. He brought further family ties too with his brother-in-law Gabriel, his cousin and his best friend from those early school days all joining the bakery team.
Bread is our life
Recent years have seen a change in direction for the business with the closure of the Eynsham, Oxford City and Woodstock shops and the growth of the wholesale business and an expanding network of stockists across Oxfordshire & into neighbouring counties.
Today the team’s passion for Natural Bread remains as strong as ever. Michal oversees the bakery operation each day, as well as serving customers at the weekend markets and running deliveries. When asked about what he loves the most about working in the business, Michal says “every bit of it”. Claire continues to work full time in the business and is often seen serving customers at the weekend markets and visiting wholesale clients.
Put simply, Bread is our life here at Natural Bread and we hope very much that you will make it part of your life too.
Keeping it local
We are passionate foodies and believe that quality is key. This is true of everything that we sell, and as an Oxfordshire business we take great care to source as locally as possible. We enjoy working with like-minded local producers and suppliers, who share our passion for good food and love of natural ingredients. We are especially proud to bake with flour from Wessex Mill in Wantage www.wessexmill.co.uk across our product range and eggs from Mayfield in Witney www.mayfieldeggs.co.uk
Take it slow, keep it Natural.....