There’s nothing quite like the smell of baking bread as seventh generation baker Iain Campbell can testify.
Born and “bread” in Crieff, Iain has run the family bakery, with shops in Comrie and Crieff, since 1994.
.Now he is aiming to teach a whole new generation of bakers at his new bake school, the first in Scotland.
Established in 1830 in Callander by Iain’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Campbell’s is one of Scotland’s oldest bakeries.
“Being the son of a baker, I never had any other thoughts for a career other than following in the footsteps of my father,” he says. “There was never any pressure, it just felt like the natural thing to do. My earliest memories involve being in the bakehouse on Sunday mornings with my dad, Jim, watching him pipe out meringues and finish off birthday cakes. It was quite mesmerising for a young child.
“I also vividly remember calling into the bakehouse on my way to school and walking along the road with a freshly baked hot pie in my hand.”
It was in 1830 that Iain’s great-great-great-great grandfather Donald Campbell baked his first batch of bread in Callander. In 1929, newlyweds, Bob and Cathy Campbell, Iain’s grandparents, moved to Crieff to run the bakery business that was purchased for them as a wedding present.
“Back then few people had a car so our family drove a van twice a day to the outlying farms and houses as well as to some of the small hotels and guest houses in the town,” says Iain.
“The morning run delivered mainly bread and rolls, whereas scones and teabread were the staples for the afternoon run. Surprisingly, despite all the faddy diets and international influences, our best sellers of 1929 – morning rolls and scotch pies – are still popular today,” he continues.
1929 was also the year of the Wall Street crash and although Crieff was a world away from the New York Stock Exchange, life was decidedly more austere than it is now.
“My granny and her two sisters would preach: ‘Waste not, want not, pick it up and eat it!’ to me and my sisters while we were growing up,” Iain recalls.
Iain, whose one essential kitchen gadget is a reliable set of scales, loves the whole bread making process.
“Making bread is baking at its simplest. Four ingredients can give you an amazingly tasty and satisfying loaf. I like moulding it, kneading it, shaping and the smell when it comes out of the oven,” he smiles.
As well as bread and rolls, Iain sells a whole range of timeless classics, including oatcakes (in a range of flavours), Selkirk bannocks, shortbread and cakes and pastries.
With programmes like The Great British Bake Off putting artisan producers in the spotlight, he has recently branched out to establish a bake school held on Saturday afternoons.
“For the last few years I have been teaching a bread masterclass for secondary pupils at the local high school,” he explains. “And I’ve also trained two apprentices to win Young Scottish Baker of the Year in 2009 and 2014.
“It was my wife Ailsa who came up with the idea of a bake school and we’re both really excited about the whole project,” he smiles.
“Baking is in my DNA, and something I love to share,” says Iain, whose one essential kitchen gadget is a reliable set of scales.
“Making bread is baking at its purest. Four ingredients can give you an amazingly tasty and satisfying loaf. I like moulding it, kneading it, shaping and the smell when it comes out of the oven,” he smiles.
“I hope the classes are good fun for the participants and they take away new knowledge. It would be great to inspire a few to try baking as a career. The baking industry is always in need of new blood so fingers crossed for the next generation of bakers.”
At the moment class size is limited to five spaces but Iain and Ailsa, who are involved in efforts to regenerate Crieff town centre, hope to eventually expand into the derelict Strathearn Hotel next door and create an amenity that will benefit the whole town.
“It’s my dream to create a tourist-worthy visitor experience in Crieff,” he says.
“I hope the classes are good fun for participants and they take away new knowledge. I also hope to inspire a few to try baking as a career. The baking industry is always in need of new blood so fingers crossed for the next generation of bakers.”
Campbell’s is still a real family affair with graphic designer Ailsa looking after the marketing and window displays, and Iain’s two sisters Fiona and Alison both very hands on.
And Iain’s kids Isla, 13, and nine-year-old Hamish, look set to become eighth generation bakers. “They love helping in the bakery,” smiles Iain.
For more info on Campbell’s Bake School, £80 per person, visit www.campbellsbakery.com