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Baking's past

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How baking used to be – the recollections of Jeff Le Caudey (Part One)

There were about 50 bakers in Jersey in the years up to and during the Occupation. They used flour from several mainland suppliers including Cardiff & Channel, Spillers, Ranks and Hovis. All of these firms were represented by ‘Commercial Travellers’ who came over from England several times a year and visited every bakery.

The cargoes of flour arrived by boat regularly, usually each with 320 bags, and were collected, stored and delivered by Le Caudey Brothers of 20, Commercial Buildings (Tel. Central 102).

In the early 1920s, moving the flour involved horses, trolleys and men strong enough to lift and carry the 212 lb (96 kg) ‘sacks’. Fortunately, by the mid 1930s, the ‘sacks’ had become ‘bags’ weighing 140 lb (63 kg). Delivery to country bakers, such as Amy’s in St Ouen, was a full day’s work for a horse, and the driver would always walk up Beaumont Hill holding the bridle.

In the 1930s, Le Caudey Bros purchased some lorries and the horses became redundant – save Zigger, a black horse who had served with the Americans in the First World War. He continued to deliver in the town area until the German bombing on 28 June 1940. A bomb caused Zigger’s stable at the end of Commercial Buildings to collapse around him. One of the drivers, Frank Bihel, rescued Zigger from the rubble but he never worked again.

Quite a few of the larger bakeries stored their flour in lofts so the bags had to be cranked up using a manual crane. This called for two or more men to make a delivery. At the opposite end of the scale, there were several one-man establishments. One of these bakers ordered his five bags to be delivered the following morning. They were delivered at 12.20 am, drawing bitter complaints from the owner while the bags were being unloaded – his morning, of course, ending at 12 noon sharp.

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Gallette des Rois

The French bakers, especially in Northern France, end their Christmas celebrations on the weekend of the 12th Night, the 6th January, celebrating the visit of the three Kings to Christ in Bethlehem, by baking the Galette des Rois, which translates into the King’s griddle cake.We have made our own version this year. We hope you will try it and enjoy it – please let us know what you think.

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