People constantly ask Daphne Austin why the loaf in their bread bin always seems to go mouldy. “I tell them it’s because they don’t buy fresh bread’, she said sternly.

It turns out that there is fresh bread and then there is proper, freshly baked bread and apparently, not many of us know the difference.

Miss Austin, 47, is one of the family behind Hawkins, known in the trade as a scratch baker who make all their products on site.

Returning to the mould, Miss Austin explained the science. Factory manufactured bread tends to be 75 per cent water to 25 per cent ingredients whereas Hawkins’ bread is the other way around — 75 per cent ingredients to 25 per cent water.

“It has to have that water content to create moisture to grow mould. It is chemically impossible for our bread to grow mould.

“Our bread will go as hard as a brick if you leave it for a week but it won’t ever grow mould,” she added.

It is 25 years since Jon Hawkins started up a bakery business in Carterton, with finance courtesy of the Prince’s Trust.

It being Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, entrepreneurs were given a weekly payment of £40 and encouraged to launch enterprises.

So, aged just 24, Mr Hawkins left his job with a large, national bakery and moved with his wife, Fiona (Miss Austin’s sister) from his home town of Banbury to Carterton.

“What with the RAF base and it being a good-sized place, he thought it was the ideal location crying out for a fresh bakers,” Miss Austin explained.

She and her partner of 28 years, Tony Bayliff, went to stay with the Hawkins in their one-bedroom flat for a week to help with the launch, and never went back.

Since then, Mr Hawkins and Fiona have divorced but the whole family remains on friendly terms and closely involved with the bakery business.

The bakery and hot bread shop in the Giles Centre, Carterton, was joined by another shop in Langdale Court, Witney, just over a year ago.

One of the company’s proudest boasts is that it does not use any preservatives.

Most supermarket bread does include them because fresh yeast is a living product that cannot survive more than two weeks.

“People say: ‘I get my fresh bread from a supermarket and it is still hot’.

“But what they don’t realise is that is actually made from concentrate and then part-baked,” explained Miss Austin.

Unfortunately, according to Miss Austin, scratch baking is a dying art.

“It is a generation change. When your granny went shopping, she went to the baker’s, the butcher’s and the greengrocer’s. Your mother went to the butcher’s, baker’s, greengrocer’s and the supermarket. We are a generation of supermarket dashers,” she added.

Apart from two shops, the business lists an impressive number of bistro pubs, hotels, restaurants, cafes, community stores and even a school among its clientele.

The most popular products are large white baps, large harvester loaves and the granary loaf, Cotswold crunch, The menu also includes a mind-boggling array of speciality breads such as garlic, walnut, onion, ciabatta, sour dough and red onion.

When it comes to cakes, jam doughnuts are the biggest sellers, although the bakery also does a brisk trade in scones, chocolate cake, jam puffs, custard slices, macaroons, Eccles cake and several other fancies.

Chelsea buns also go down a treat “because people like to unwind them and pick out the currants”, according to Miss Austin.

Other big sellers are sandwiches, rolls and hot pasties and pies.

“We have a policy on filled rolls, you pick it, we’ll fill it,” Miss Austin pointed out.

Each night, Mr Hawkins rolls up his sleeves at 10pm to begin work so the first loaves start emerging from the ovens at midnight.

That day’s batch must be ready by 6am to go out on the company’s two vans and then the shops loaded, ready for opening.

“There are not a lot of jobs where you start from nothing and get a finished product. That is something to be proud of,” Miss Austin said.

Times are tough in the bakery trade but Miss Austin is undaunted.

“We have to get out there and shout our name from the rooftops — we have to fight to let people know what is different about our bread and cakes.

“We do well on the hot cross buns at Easter but ours are 65p each versus four for a £1 in the supermarkets. But then, theirs were made last February and frozen.

“You can’t beat freshly-baked bread and cakes that have come out of the oven less than an hour ago.

“We are more than a match for the big boys,” she added.

Name: Hawkins Bakers & Hot Bread Shops Established: 1986 Founder and managing director: Jon Hawkins Number of staff: 12 Annual turnover: £200,000

Contact: 01993 841761 Web: