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Oxford baguette winners are the upper crust of baking
BREAD produced in a north Oxford patisserie beat a rival recipe by French chef Raymond Blanc to the title of Oxfordshire’s best baguette.
French speakers in the city organised the competition to sort the wheat from the chaff, scrutinising seven baguettes produced by bakers and supermarkets across the county.
Twelve “jurors” sampled slices of each baguette, judging them on taste, appearance and smell before deciding on a winner.
In fact, competition was so strong, organisers created two overall winners – one sourdough bread, and one yeast.
In the sourdough category, the Natural Bread Company, an independent baker in Wantage, came out on top.
Meanwhile, in the yeast category, Gatineau, in Summertown, triumphed.
Waitrose’s stone-baked baguette came third, but in something of a turn-up, Patisserie Blanc’s regular baguette, produced by Mr Blanc, came fifth.
Organiser Florence Rossignol, who has displayed the winning entries on her website french inoxford.co.uk, said: “We had eight nominations, but one had to be discounted because they imported the half-baked baguette from France.
“The Natural Bread Company was distinctly the favourite, because it scored highly on all fronts.
“Because the Natural Bread's Company’s is sourdough, and that is very unusual for a baguette with a very specific taste, we felt we had to award the best yeast baguette, the more common type as well.
“The winning breads had disappeared from the testing table before the others, which proves people really enjoyed them.
“I’m very relieved that the testers managed to pick out quality baguettes in a blind test. French people deserve their reputation, after all.”
Winner Fabien Gautier, owner of Gatineau, said: “We were hoping to be winners because we spend a lot of time making sure the food is fine and testing it. I’m French and I’m proud of making a good baguette. We are pleased because we were up against competition from Patisserie Blanc.”
Rita Serrao, manager of Patisserie Blanc in Woodstock Road, Oxford said: “Monsieur Blanc will not be happy. It would have been lovely to win – especially knowing how much hard work he has put in – but we will have to work a bit harder.”
Other baguettes nominated were Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference variety, Taylor’s Deli in St Giles, Oxford, and Patisserie Pascal in Abingdon.
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