Your Davey Bread, run by Dave de la Riviere, alongside his full-time job in IT, has just scooped the title of British Baker's Britain's Best Loaf for his seeded sourdough made using Matthews Cotswold Flour's award-winning Cotswold Crunch.

He only started baking in lockdown but has rapidly gained a loyal following and beat off strong competition to win the accolade. Dave explains: “I'm relatively new to baking, I started in the pandemic when working from home and a neighbour offered me some sourdough starter.

“I baked a lot of frisbee loaves as I learnt from youtube and books, and gradually progressed to edible loaves that I started giving away to neighbours. In January 2023 I opened Your Davey Bread, offering pre-order and pickup of sourdough loaves from our front porch in Swallowfield, Berkshire.

“I attended a micro bakery course with Wayne Caddy, which really taught me how to produce consistent results and how to scale up from a few loaves to batches. We now do village markets, fetes and supply the local tea room in Riseley, in addition to our pre-order business.”

Dave describes his bakery business as 'a hobby gone rogue' but he has a growing community of adoring customers who were the impetus behind his Best British Loaf Awards entry. He says: “I'm thankful to the persistent people who convinced me to enter and the lovely customers we have that allow me to bake in sufficient quantities to learn the intricacies of sourdough baking.

“I'm so proud my Seeded Sourdough won its category against tough and established competition. The judges' comments were so complimentary too.

“There is an element of disbelief for me, as I'm a micro baker, one guy in his back room with a small mixer and a small oven.” Dave likes his loaves to have funny, pun-based names, and his prize-winning loaf, called Uncle Tom Cobbler N'all, is no exception.

He elaborates: “Created using cobbler/malted flour, the "n'all" element originally covered any ingredients I needed to use up. I experimented with adding various percentages of malted flour to my standard country loaf, until we hit the sweet spot of taste and texture.

“This also took a few experiments with the hydration level of the dough. The dough is covered in poppy seeds and semolina to give the crust some more crunch.”

Dave adds: “Choosing the right flour is obviously critical and I came across Matthews Cotswold Flour in Waitrose and I knew that Elaine Boddy, the Sourdough Whisperer, uses it a lot so I wanted to try their range for myself. I used their Cotswold Crunch in my prize-winning loaf because it has a great aroma when baked and is easy to incorporate into a recipe.

“The malted wheat flakes give a little welcome bite and texture.” Bertie Matthews, managing director of Matthews Cotswold Flour comments: “We are thrilled to see that our award-winning flour is at the core of this prize-winning loaf.

“We work hard to develop a wide range of premium flours that exceed the expectations and needs of our artisan and home bakers. It is incredibly rewarding to see our ingredients play a key role in Dave's success.”

Dave is now at a crossroads in his baking career. Buoyed by the award and now selling out every weekend, he wonders if it is time to scale up.

He says: “I would like to expand to be able to offer my bread in more shops, cafes and restaurants. Perhaps it's time for a second oven and some help. I have also been considering running beginner sourdough workshops.”