We are so excited to introduce Sophie, our new expert technical baker at the Cotswold Flour Mill on this very special International Women’s Day - 8th March 2023.
We sat down with Sophie to ask her some questions so our baking club can get to know her better!
How did you get into baking?
I have always loved it in the kitchen – I would bake with my Mum and Grandmother as a child and continued experimenting and collecting bakery books through the years. I then saw a university course advertised to study baking at the National Bakery School in London and felt it was meant to be! Since then I’ve just never stopped baking!
What’s your role at Matthews Cotswold Flour?
My job title is ‘Bakery Development Manager’ which doesn’t give away much about what I do! I work with our trade customers making sure they have all the help they need to succeed, but I also speak to our home bakers a lot to answer their questions and write recipes for the website. In general – if you have a question about baking, I try to answer it!
What’s your favourite thing to bake?
I love rustic baking – focusing on good flavour and quality ingredients. I especially love making things like tarte tatin, key lime pie, focaccia, hummingbird cake, or cheese and jalapeno pretzels – I’m also a chili addict!
Do you have any preferred flours that you like to work with?
I like using stoneground flours as they have a nuttier flavour and a great texture – in particular I love the stoneground wholemeal and the regenerative white for bread. Adding spelt is really fun and works in savoury and sweet baking with plain flour.
Which women do you admire in the baking industry?
I’ve always admired women like Delia Smith and Mary Berry – they really dedicated their careers to perfecting classic techniques and making cooking/baking simple and accessible. I’m really excited at the moment by Kitty Tait and Benjamina Ebuehi – they both have such a natural talent and flair for flavour.
This year the UN's theme for IWD 2023 is "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". This theme aims to recognise and celebrate the contribution women and girls are making to technology and online education. Have you seen any innovation and technology recently within the baking industry?
There is so much innovation happening in the baking industry, but a lot of it goes on behind the scenes to get the best products for our bakers and customers. I’m really excited by the different bakery solutions which are being rolled out to help smaller businesses keep up with trends and reduce waste while saving money. We need to accept this kind of technology and innovation to keep bakeries in business.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly getting into baking
Keep making things you love to eat, and try not to follow a recipe too much. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I prefer to use recipes as guides and make switches as I go. Bakery is a science so use recipes as a beginner to learn the basics on how everything works, then try to follow your intuition more – you’ll quickly become a pro and your bakes will be unique to you!
If you want to see more from Sophie, please visit her Instagram page: @sophiebakesmcf