Bakers inspired by gold standard ‘twin’

Bramsche baker Jorg Barowski, left, who is head of family bakery Justus, and Karl Badger of Saker bakery, Todmorden
Bramsche baker Jorg Barowski, left, who is head of family bakery Justus, and Karl Badger of Saker bakery, Todmorden

A BAKERY will be moving in new directions, drawing inspiration from one of the Calder Valley’s twin towns.

Before Christmas bakers Karl Badger and his daughter Clare Stagg spent time at a bakery in Todmorden’s German twin town of Bramsche - an experience which has given them new goals for their own bakery, Saker, which is at Lydgate, Todmorden.

Saker, which has specialised in vegan and vegetarian products and also has a retail outlet in Market Street, Hebden Bridge, has been established for more than 20 years during which time it has supplied outlets from Hull to Liverpool and Newcastle to Nottingham.

Karl, Clare and their staff have a passion for baking and it has long been an ambition of Karl’s to see more closely how it is done in Germany, a country famous for the fine quality of its baking.

Already using unique German moulds for Saker’s rye and sour breads, they were hugely impressed and in awe with what they found and want to develop a closer relationship with the German bakery in addition to being inspired as to how they move their own business forward.

Karl explained: “I am English but after I left college I worked on an organic dairy farm in Denmark. I stopped off on my way back here in Kiel and worked a shift with a Kiel baker. I’d decided I wanted to be baker and Saker has now been running here for 22 years.

“Our core business is wholsale but we opened up the shop in Hebden Bridge two years ago and have been looking at expanding our range. It is realising the dream but if I was going to do it I needed to go over to Germany.”

With the help of Phil Morton of Todmorden Town Twinning Association, he was put into contact with Bramsche bakery Backerei Justus.

“It’s a commercial bakery and the impact was far greater than I thought. It turns out to be one of the top German bakeries, being a German gourmet magazine bakery of the year in 2000/2001 and has won gold medals for almost all its bread.

“Clare and I went there ‘blind’ and it was four times bigger than our bakery. I worked there for one night and the reality is that even though it is a big baker they were baking like a craft bakery. I found it a shock. Every bread that I looked at - I’m a bread specialist - I have never seen such attention to detail,” said Karl.

Clare, who used the visit to take a closer look at cakes produced and sold in German coffee and cake shops, was also very impressed with the quality of each product, especially when compared with mass produced bread sold in large quantities in the UK.

“We’d gone to a country where their attention to their bread is passionate. That’s the standard. This is a big bakery in Germany and they sell far and wide, but it is top quality stuff,” she said.

“Dad found the bakery humbling and I found the cake and coffee shops were humbling. We visited a coffee shop at Osnabruck Christmas Market and the range of was like a cake shop version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!

“I haven’t discovered my dream from this but my dreams have changed. I would look to see us not losing anything we have, just growing; not necessarily bigger but better, offering more,” she said.

Karl hopes to build on the first German visit and hopes to develop closer links with Justus, raising the bar higher, striving to match the exacting German standards, aiming for authenticity taking the business in new directions in the process.