Award-winning baker Patrick Moore has been supplying our Farmshop & Kitchen with sourdough loaves and other slow-fermented speciality breads since the earliest days of his business. The founder of More? The Artisan Bakery talks bacon butties, the gift of great toast and his latest starring roll.
When Patrick Moore shares his formula for the perfect bacon buttie, he speaks with some authority. The chef turned baker has been working in restaurants since he was 12, ultimately becoming executive chef of a luxury Lake District hotel group – where making perfect bacon butties for up to 200 wedding guests at a time was all in a day’s work. He’s also the bread expert for the consumer association Which? and the winner of 16 three-star Great Taste Awards – the highest accolade in artisan food.
“The roll wants to go in the oven at 180 degrees for about three to four minutes, just to get an eggshell crust and a comforting warmth,” he says. “Then Winter Tarn butter. And fantastic Tebay Services bacon.”
The bacon we’re proud to take credit for. Our butchers dry cure it themselves using Cumbrian pork and sell it behind our Farmshop butchers’ counter. The dense, creamy Winter Tarn butter that Patrick likes melted into his hot bacon is hand-churned in Cumbria’s Eden Valley by Trish and Jeremy Jackson and sold in our Farmshop.
But the roll is Patrick’s own masterpiece. His sourdough milk roll – our carrier of choice for the bacon butties and Cumberland sausage baps and hot dogs we serve in our Kitchen, Quick Kitchen and Barbecue Shed – is a bread bun so revolutionary, he says, that people have stopped him in the street to tell him how much they love it. “It has a soft, pillowy, milky texture that’s like the best soft roll you’ve ever eaten, but it actually has structure and a little resistance and it melts in the mouth really perfectly.”
Although it contains a small amount of bakers’ yeast, this plain white roll, made using milk from a local dairy, is leavened mainly by the sourdough method. Wild yeasts that occur naturally in the flour release carbon dioxide during a long, slow fermentation, in which lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria play a crucial role in developing the dough’s flavour and structure.
“People have become used to quick-made breads that are full of air and taste of nothing,” says Patrick, whose German mother introduced him to the tastes and textures of real bread at a young age. “Our white rolls have a taste. Not a strong taste that would offend, but a universal great taste.”
Patrick has been raising expectations about the quality of our daily bread since in 2006, when he founded More? The Artisan Bakery. Inspired by a mission to make available beyond restaurant kitchens the sort of tasty, slow-fermented breads that he was baking in the hotels, he started off at Cumbrian farmers’ markets and food shows, loading his van with his home-baked breads, cakes and pastries.
“We started the business to bring people happiness,” Patrick says. Having first discovered the power to spread joy through baking when he was a boy making treacle tarts for his family, he was soon spreading joy all over the nation: in 2009 his gluten-free Muddee was named not only Britain’s best chocolate brownie but also Britain’s official best food (Supreme Champion at the 2009 Great Taste Awards).
Tebay Services Farmshop was the first food retailer to stock Patrick’s sourdough loaves, after Farmshop Buyer Alexander Evans tasted them at a food festival. Back in those early days, Patrick didn’t call them sourdoughs. “We used to call it by its French name, pain au levain, because when we called it sour dough people said, ‘Ugh’,” Patrick says. “Then when they tasted it they said, ‘Ooh, it tastes of something.’”
He remembers the early impact of having his Wild English Sourdough Bloomers and Lakeland Treacle Breads on the shelves at Tebay Services. “It was absolutely instrumental in the setting up of our business,” says Patrick, who now employs 28 people at the commercial bakery and café he runs at Staveley, near Kendal. “Tebay didn’t dictate to us like any other large retailer would. It was willing to work around the limitations of what we could make and how much we could deliver.”
Patrick’s slow-fermented breads, including Jewish Rye Sourdoughs, ‘Monty’s Revenge’ cheesy bloomers and oil-drizzled herby focaccias, are still the stars of the bread table in our Farmshop. A more recent bestseller is the award-winning More? Sourdough Toasting Loaf, a mould-breaking daily bread that takes the one of the most degraded products in the food industry – the plastic-wrapped white sliced loaf – and transforms it into an accessible artisan food.
“Who doesn’t love great toast?” says Patrick, whose additive-free sliced sourdough (it contains just flour, salt and water) transforms into crunchy, crumpet-like comfort food after just minutes in a toaster. “We took the idea of a product that is often the worst thing you can eat and turned it into the best of its type.”
An innovator who is driven by a mission to share good food with as many people as possible, Patrick is also a passionate champion of other Cumbrian producers. “The variety that we have on our doorstep and the individuals involved – we have some real creative geniuses in this area. It’s just a perfectly knitted blanket of amazing food options.”
His synergy with Tebay Services’ own values makes him much more than just a supplier, says Dan Pearson, our head of food development and sourcing. He’s worked with Patrick for more than 10 years, introducing More? Bakery’s ciabattas, granary rolls, brioche buns and sourdough milk rolls onto the menus in our Kitchen, Quick Kitchen and Barbecue Shed.
“He’s not just someone who supplies us with a product,” Dan says. “It’s much more of a friendship than a business relationship. He’s a really good guy to sound ideas off; we have hours of conversations about food and sourcing, not always bread-related.
“Patrick is so knowledgeable about our local area: he knows what’s going on where, who’s doing what, who to look at. His experience and his values are in line with what we want to achieve: good quality, great tasting good food.”