The Incredible Bakery – 'It had to be the best for him!'
A mum’s quest for the perfect gluten-free loaf changed her family’s life; when Valeria Mizuno-Turner’s son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, she didn’t realise it would eventually lead her to start an award-winning bakery.
Five years ago, Valeria and James welcomed their baby son Leon. Unfortunately, soon afterwards they realised that something was very wrong: “He got so sick, and his skin was terrible. I would take him to the doctors but they couldn’t solve the problem. We knew we had to see specialists but we didn’t even which specialists to take him to”.
Valeria solved the mystery while breastfeeding Leon one day: “I ate something that had peanuts in, and a few hours later when I fed him, his head went up like a balloon and we realised that it was a food related allergy. Subsequently we went to see a specialist and discovered that he was allergic to dairy, egg, peanuts, and a delayed reaction to wheat and soya. We got some products on prescription for him, but unfortunately all the gluten-free products also contained egg which he couldn’t have.”
Desperate for something nutritious and tasty for Leon to eat, Valeria started baking her own gluten-free bread. She scoured books, drew on her family’s baking skills and started experimenting: “Although I didn’t have any formal training, I’d always been a keen baker, and my mother always made such delicious things!”
After plenty of trial and error, she finally cracked the perfect gluten-free loaf: “The bread was acclaimed by family and friends, they started asking to buy the bread. So my husband and I started selling the bread at a farmer’s market in London, then selling to shops in London, and eventually we needed to expand to meet demand. We had an opportunity to move to new premises in Northamptonshire, so we relocated our family and business and we’ve never had any regrets.
We’ve since got our SALSA accreditation (Safe and Local Supplier Approval), which lets us work with supermarkets and bigger stores. We’re still very much a family business and now have five employees.”
As the business expands, Valeria still maintains the highest standards: “Everything that we make, my family also consumes, so we’re always thinking of the needs of the family and people who want to be healthy. The ingredients we source are from trusted, reliable suppliers. We strive to get the best ingredients and try to keep the food miles low where possible. We’re always looking at nutrition, when I first created the recipes I made them high in fibre, low in fat and salt, because I want my child to be healthy.”
The Incredible Bakery Company’s gluten-free range has expanded over the years to include everyday favourites and more exotic recipes; from their golden linseed loaf, to a red quinoa loaf, a ginger, date and chocolate loaf, burger rolls and many more. The breads are getting a growing number of fans, and our Foods Matter taste testers also gave them the thumbs up.
Their panini range has seven different flavours – including garlic, rosemary and sun-dried tomato – and the onion variety recently won best freefrom product at the Baking Industry Awards. Valeria is justly proud of it: “The panini packaging is oven-proof, so it can go straight from your freezer into the oven with no risk of cross-contamination.“
When we spoke, Valeria was busily planning for Christmas; “We’re just bringing out our mince pies, with local apples and sloe gin from the Warner Edwards gin foundry, plus a special loaf with all the flavours of the Winter season. In the new year, we’re bringing out a sourdough loaf and an orange slice”.
If you’ve a sweet tooth, the Incredible Bakery Company caters for you too with a range of individually wrapped cakes, including banana and ginger muffins, and chocolate brownies. “They feel, taste and look like any other cake!” enthuses Valeria.
The company was founded for Leon, so what’s his favourite treat from mum’s bakery? “It’s the lemon slice!”, And happily, these days Leon is in the peak of health, as Valeria explains: “He’s grown to be such a handsome boy, and he’s even healthier than his peers! From a child who had rashes everywhere, his skin is now perfect. It comes down to a having a diet that suits his body and doesn’t harm him.”
One of Valeria’s favourite creations is this vegan 'cheese' dip, which is perfect with some freshly baked bread from the Incredible Bakery Company:
Cheddar-type dairy free cheese
1⁄4 cup of sundried tomatoes chopped into small pieces
Soak the sundried tomatoes in hot water overnight. In a food mixer first mix the sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, spices and salt, whizz just to crush the sunflower seeds. Add the soaked tomatoes, water and cider vinegar. Mix it all up until you have uniform paste. If you want you can serve straight away as cheese spread or place it in the fridge to obtain hard cheese consistency.
The Incredible Bakery Company: 01536 601 600 www.incrediblebakerycompany.co.uk
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