Making the Change to Fair Baking
Updated: Mar 4
This year’s South West Fair Trade Business Awards will be hosted by Briony Williams, star of The Great British Bake Off and winner of The Great Christmas Bake Off 2019. Briony heads a fantastic all-female line up at the awards ceremony, also featuring Jaya Chakrabarti, CEO of Transparency in the Supply Chains (TISC), and Nicola Matthews, UK Marketing Manager at Tony’s Chocolonely.
We recently joined Briony in the kitchen to celebrate the start of Fairtrade Fortnight (running to 8th March, also International Women’s Day) and to discover just how good Fair Trade baking can be. Briony shares her own experience of delving deeper into Fair Trade, as well as her irresistible recipe for Peanut Butter, Tony’s Chocolonely and fennel cookies.
Words by Briony Williams, Photos by Sarah Conner
I'm not going to lie, I've never fully understood what Fair Trade actually means. I know that it's a good thing, and that if I buy Fair Trade products then I am putting some good back into the world, but why is that? After I was asked to present the South West Fair Trade Business Awards, I decided I could no longer carry on being ignorant; it was time to figure out exactly what is meant by Fair Trade, how it applies to me and my life, and why I should care a bit more about what food I'm putting into my bakes and buying for my family.
Let's start with what Fair Trade actually is. To quote the internet, 'Fairtrade [certification] is trading between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries. Fair prices are paid to the producers, and companies are able to provide workers with a stable income that can improve their lives'. My understanding of this is that every person involved in the process of food production, all the way to the farmers that grow the produce or ingredients, is paid reasonably. This means that when you buy a product in the supermarket with the ‘Fairtrade’ symbol on it, you are making a conscious decision to better the lives of those producing it in developing countries.
So how can I apply this to me, my family and my baking? I thought I would do a little test by going shopping for the ingredients I use in my signature carrot cake. Every item I needed, I made sure I looked through the products on offer to find the Fairtrade stamp wherever possible. There were some bits that I couldn’t find – for fresh ingredients such as the butter or carrots, it’s best to buy local. But so many baking ingredients like sugar, nuts, spices, and oil were easy to track down. When I got to the checkout, I was expecting the total bill to be significantly higher because I have always had the impression that Fair Trade equals more expensive, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was only a few pounds more than normal and I got a bit of a boost knowing I had bought predominantly Fair Trade.
The final part of my quest to comprehend Fair Trade was to figure out how I can incorporate it into my daily life. To be honest, this is the easiest part; I need to make a concerted effort to buy more Fair Trade products, simple as that. My daughter loves bananas, eats them every day, so when there is a 10p difference between a pack which is fair for farmers and a pack that isn’t, I am going to buy the Fair Trade ones. When I am whipping up a chocolate cake, I will look for the cocoa powder with the symbol that tells me I am making the decision to care about where it came from, and that the farmers who grow the cocoa beans are being paid fairly.
This process of discovery has actually led me full circle back to the idea that buying Fair Trade puts a little bit of good back into the world, and I have to admit that’s reason enough for me.
Here’s another recipe I adapted to cram in as many Fair Trade ingredients as possible—quick, delicious and now fair, too!
Peanut Butter, Tony’s Chocolonely and Fennel Cookies
Makes roughly 20 cookies
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g crunchy peanut butter
125g Fair Trade caster sugar
175g Fair Trade soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
250g Fairtrade Tony’s Chocolonely, chopped into large pieces – I used half 70% cocoa and half milk chocolate
Put the oven on to 180°C (fan). Line two baking trays with parchment.
Beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars with a whisk or in a stand mixer until well combined.
Beat the egg and milk with a fork in a mug until combined. Tip into butter mixture and beat again until combined.
Combine the flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt and crushed fennel seeds in a bowl.
Tip the flour mixture into the butter mixture and gently mix until just combined.
Add the Tony’s Chocolonely pieces and mix until just combined.
7. Break off a golf ball size piece of dough and roll into a ball. Place on parchment and press down to flatten. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are just hardening. Put on cooling rack.
The dough will last in the fridge for a week and the freezer for 2 months.
The South West Fair Trade Business Awards are a call for all organisations in the region to take action against exploitation in supply chains by choosing Fair Trade and proudly sharing their ethical commitment with staff and clients. The awards are free to enter, and are open to organisations of any size and sector until 3rd April.