Posted 1st Oct 2014
In honour of Craft Bakers' Week (29th Sept to 5th Oct) we visited one of the longest running, family-owned bakeries in the country, Dunn's Bakery in London. We sat down with owner, Chris Freeman, to get an inside look into the life of a baker
Five generations of bakers have come from the Freeman family, with current owner Chris having been a prominent figure in the business since 1973, when he joined under his father's ownership. One of four siblings, Chris and his wife Christina have helped to cement Dunn's Bakery as an integral part of the community, taking pride and satisfaction in what they make and sell.
Travelling down from Northamptonshire to Highgate in 1820, Chris's great-great-grandfather, Robert Freeman, began his baking legacy before the Crouch End bakery was established. Now, with more than 40 staff employed in a fully functioning and hard-working bakery, Dunn's offers a myriad of cakes, breads and other sumptuous delights to sink your teeth into, baked fresh everyday.
Proudly making more than 20 wedding cakes, birthday cakes and celebration cakes a week in their two storey workshop, each cake is finished by hand by a dedicated decorator. Bread is lovingly prepared by bakers who arrive early in the morning to prepare it. Shop assistants and supervisors begin their day at 6am, ready to greet the customers with a smile and a stunning selection of baked treats to tempt them, while master confectioner, Peter, makes cake masterpieces behind the scenes – all of which is overseen by Chris, who ensures that the bakery runs without a hitch.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Everyday you take raw materials: your flour, yeast, water and salt and turn it into a product that will make people happy. You experience the process from beginning to end and the whole thing is very pleasing and it's nice to see reasonably empty shelves at the end of it.
Which member of the family will take over running Dunn's Bakery when you decide to hang up your apron?
My son Lewis will take over in due course. He is currently a finance and investment banking student at Reading University, and has been doing work experience in different bakeries while he is there in preparation for taking over the business. He is learning about how other bakeries run before joining the family business.
You have an extensive range of cakes, how do you decide what to introduce next?
It's a mixture of looking at trends and ideas we have, the ingredients we have and what we can do with them, as well as articles so we can see what would work best alongside what we already make.
What was the last thing you introduced?
Sourdough loaves with sea salt and rosemary.
Have you had any special requests?
We were recently approached to make some bread for a film called Tulip Fever, and we have made cakes and things for celebrities over the years as well, including famous English film stars. If we can make it, we will.
Visit www.dunns-bakery.co.uk to find out more about this traditional London bakery.
By Lauren Morton