SIGEP Golden Cup: King Arthur Flour baker competes internationally


King Arthur Flour baker Martin Philip recently traveled to Rimini, Italy to compete for the Golden Cup for Bread at the 34th International Exhibition for the Artisan Production of Gelato, Pastry, Confectionery and Bakery.

How did he do? And, just as importantly, how did he prepare?

Known by its Italian acronym, SIGEP, this enormous trade show attracts bakers from around the world. The Golden Cup competition challenges teams from five countries in three categories: traditional breads, pastry, and healthy breads.  Martin, the head bread baker in our Norwich, VT bakery, was invited to compete along with three other Americans, all representing the United States.

Leading up to the competition Martin formulated three unique recipes and spent countless hours practicing – and here are some pictures to prove it!

Challenge #1: healthier baguettes? Baguettes, long and lovely, crackly and crispy, traditionally made with white flour.  Whole wheat baguettes may cause Parisians to scoff, and for good reason. I’ve sampled my share of botched attempts to make whole-grain baguettes palatable. What’s a baker to do?

Pictured above, Martin is scoring baguettes made with Type 85 flour. Type 85 is a grade of flour between white and whole wheat; it retains much of the nutrition of whole wheat, but some of the bran has been sifted out to achieve lighter products.

Baking with this flour isn’t just a simple matter of substituting ingredients; this dough requires a totally different mixing and handling technique. But, the result is amazing: a toothsome yet thin crust, an interior full of irregular holes.

Martin’s hope is that “healthy breads” won’t be lumped into a separate category of products, but will become the norm of what we consume on a daily basis.  I know that I’m sold on these baguettes!

Want to taste a similar version of these sifted whole wheat baguettes? They’re available every day in our bakery!

Remember, the competition was in Italy, and one category is traditional breads. When I think Italian bread, ciabatta immediately comes to mind.

Ahh, ciabatta…  with a crispy crust and soft, hole-y interior, it’s airy and delicious. Now, challenge #2, add LOTS of walnuts and a touch of bran to enhance the flavor, without sacrificing light texture.

To take it over the top visually, Martin designed a stencil to sift flour atop each loaf for a beautiful presentation. Another winner! Is your mouth watering? A version of this bread is available in our bakery on Thursdays.

Here Martin is placing dough in a loaf pan. This bread is based on a German whole rye bread, dense and hearty. Challenge #3 is to add flavor and complexity to make this take on a European staple one of a kind. Martin achieved this with the addition of orange and spices, a perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate (or just toasted and buttered).

I recently spoke with Martin on his motivation for competing, and how we all benefit from his efforts.

First of all, it’s in line with our mission here at King Arthur Flour to provide inspiration for bakers. When there’s cross-pollination among enthusiastic bakers from around the world, new ideas are spawned, and traditional techniques are honored and shared.

To Martin, participating in an international competition is “fuel for personal growth and creativity.” As a result there will be new products in our bakery, new techniques to teach in our education center, and better information to share with our customers and baking community.

As I spoke to Martin (while both of us were dividing and shaping dough), I realized that Martin’s inspiration has already spread throughout King Arthur – and we promise to pass it on to you.

Inspiration to try new recipes, and dig out old ones. Inspiration to add a special touch just for the sake of beauty, like the miniature crate of oranges pictured above. Inspiration to nourish your family, and to experience “the pure joy of baking.”

The American team didn’t come home with a medal; flights to Europe were canceled and delayed, and the competition installed some last-minute rule changes that proved difficult to overcome.

However, Martin’s face showed no signs of discouragement. His skills have been refined and expanded, and he appeared energized by the process.

As I left Martin in the bakery, he said, “Are you going to be around this afternoon?  I’ll have a new bread for you to try.”  Possibilities are endless in the world of baking, and we hope you will continue to explore!

Go ahead, browse our recipes, watch our videos,  sign up for a class… or simply put on your apron and bake!

*Updated February 27th - The SIGEP results have been revised based on the original rules!  The organizers reiterated that this competition is primarily an exhibition of baking tradtitions from around the world.  Below is the revised classification of the teams

1st Hungary
2nd Germany
3rd USA
4th Israel
5th Italy
Amber Eisler

Amber Eisler was born and raised in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and started her time at King Arthur Flour in the production bakery. Amber now works full-time in the Baking Education Center, and enjoys sharing her passion ...


  1. yourfavoritegnat

    Congrats, Martin! What a honor to be invited to join the competition! I love reading these stories too. Cant wait to hear more about the new breads you are developing!
    I am glad you enjoyed reading Amber’s blog. Martin is a very talented baker and King Arthur Flour is very lucky to have him! Elisabeth

  2. cmtomlins

    While our American team may not have come home with a medal – I think all of us who admire and use the many ideas presented through King Arthur are the real winners! Thank you for all that you do for us to allow us to be better bakers.

    BTW – last week I had my first opportunity to see your new facility. I was having pangs of longing to be back on the business side of a real bakery…. right up until I saw the sign that reminded me that it all starts at 3:30 AM.
    You are so very welcome! Thank you for letting us know we are doing a good job. 3:30am IS a bit early, eh? Thanks for coming to see us and hope you can make it back soon. Elisabeth

  3. klwms50

    Is a recipe for the German Rye bread that is pictured, or one similar to it available on your web site? I did a quick search and didn’t find it but maybe I was not using the right name. I’ve baked bread and rolls for years but the German I now share my life with says I never quite get his favorite rye right!
    There isn’t a very similar recipe, however try this recipe “Jeffrey’s rye” as a starting point. Rye bread dough tends to be sticky, so approach this recipe with patience and an open mind! Happy baking, Amber

  4. omaria

    Congratulations to Martin and the other bakers. We will all benefit one of these days from new recipes that were developed because of this trip.
    I am envious of all the people that can come in to the store and buy the wonderful things you all bake there.

    They really are an amazing team, we are lucky to have them. Hopefully one day you will be able to join us here!-Jon

  5. yy6906

    Great example of how one’s perspective is the most important determinant of success. Those breads look beautiful. Does KAF currently offer a product that is similar to Type 85 flour?

    I am sorry to say that we do not sell anything quite like a type 85, but I will certainly suggest that we should!-Jon

  6. goyaboy

    I want congratulate Martin. I loved the new breads and wished I lived closer to try them! Keep up the pursuits and would love to read an article from martin explaining where the creativity came from and read some of these new techniques!

    Thanks for the support! Kim@KAF

  7. echavlik

    Congratulations to Martin! Also to King Arthur Flour, for creating the environment to nurture exploration and growth! I hope that we will be able to use Martin’s recipes and ingredients in our home kitchens soon!

  8. joanski

    How exciting. Wish I lived closer to buy your products, study under someone like Martin or better yet, work in the bakery. I am always up for new challenges, new ways to do things, so I practice on my audience of one, who is free with comments on my work, pro and con. Looking forward to the new recipes particularly the whole grain, healthier breads! Is type 85 flour something uniquely European?

    The type 85 flour is certainly European. However, that isn’t to say we can’t get here in the US. Currently, our bakery has found a source for some excellent type-85 flour. It is similar to whole wheat flour but doesn’t contain all of the wheatberry (only 85% of the wheatberry is extracted for the flour). There is a very interesting Blog entry that might be worth reading through for how to replicate this at home: Kim@KAF

  9. biobaker

    I’ll second (or eighth?) the congrats to Martin, and I’ll also second the request for something like type 85 flour. I realize that it’s an entirely different beast but, functionally, it sounds as though it might fill the place of a white whole-wheat bread flour, which is something I’ve thought about for awhile (usually as I’m adding vital wheat gluten to my bowl of WWW.) Every time I read a French baking blog I’m envious of their flour selection. Adding another “European style” flour to your line-up would be great!

    Thanks for the tip! Please see the link to the last posting for more information on re-creating the Type-85 flour at home! Kim@KAF

  10. caulaysmom

    Congratulations Martin! I’m in culinary school (actually sitting here waiting for class to start!) we are studying Artisan bread. Is the type 85 flour you wrote about available to purchase? I’m sure everyone would love to have a go at it in class!

    The flour is currently not available through our regular line-up. However, I have seen a unique blog entry (I posted it on a previous comment here). You CAN replicate it by using a blend of whole wheat and bread flour. The alternative would be sifting the whole wheat through a very fine tamis to get the bran out (but then you might also lose some of the germ…). Best, Kim@KAF

  11. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez -Petrópolis, RJ- BRAZIL ( SENAC )

    As a baker instructor of local SENAC School, one of my challenges during the classes is to encourage students to try new recipes and to stimulate their creativity, making new breads with achieved skills, but out of that standards they´re normally done.
    What i could note is that after 2 or 3 first baking classes, when i really teach the basics, they really take new paths and making breads start to be an art in prior to all!!! new and fantastic ways appeared. brazilians are masters of creativity.
    It´s really a soul and magical moment when i see the result of that long pasted hours of technical tips about bread emerging from oven.
    I´m really inspired to crate an annual contest of bread baking in SENAC local school to improve creativity among them!
    Congratulations to Martin and this fantastic post you gave us here!!!


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