Rise of the microbakery
You can forget cupcakes. The latest trend is to make — and sell — your own bread. Victoria Stewart meets a growing band of home bakers
24 September 2012
This sort of experience doesn’t happen when you eat most supermarket bread. But across London, people are getting home from work or school and staying up all night kneading and mixing dough by hand then selling it to friends and neighbours. These are London’s microbakeries — and they’re on the rise.
“We have noticed … a flood of people saying yes, we want real bread in our local communities and the best way to do that is by baking it from home,” says Chris Young, co-ordinator of the Real Bread Campaign, which recently launched the Londoners Loaf competition to find the best bakery here.
“A lot of these microbakeries are really connected to their customers,” says Young. “Some may actually pop round to deliver the bread … It’s a very social way of food retail production.”
Meanwhile, Ben Mackinnon runs Hackney-based bakery and café e5 Bakehouse (e5bakehouse.com). “Demand has crept up so we’ve been organically growing,” he says. “We often sell out. In Hackney especially there is a real shift away from purchasing chain food and people are into supporting smaller enterprises… where you can see that the people producing are having a good time.” Here are four of the best small bread bakeries:
THE POCKET BAKERY
Bakers: Jack and Lara Prince, 17 and 14
Goods: Breads including sourdough, herb baguettes, focaccia and pies. Flour is from Stoate & Sons of Dorset.
Space: 70-100 products are made in the family kitchen in Battersea.
Story: In September 2010, Jack, Lara and their mum Rose (the Telegraph food writer) met Giuseppe Mascoli, owner of sourdough pizzeria Franco Manca, who taught them how to make sourdough after school. Within weeks they had regulars. They run private parties too.
Info: £3/700g loaf. The Pocket Bakery opens Saturdays, 177 Battersea Bridge Road, SW11. Alternatively bread is sold on Friday at the Doodle Bar (noon-2pm, 33 Parkgate Road, SW11; roseprince.co.uk/the-pocket-bakery/)
THE QUO VADIS BAKERY
Baker: Karol Haring, 29, studied in Bratislava, worked as a chef for 14 years, then learned to bake with Jeremy Lee.
Goods: Rye sourdough, white leavened loaf, manchets, raisin loaf.
Space: Around 90 loaves are baked daily using a four-stack oven. The kitchen measures 200 square feet.
Story: Haring bakes from 3am until 11am. When the QV bakery officially opens, the bread will be used in the restaurant and sold in the Quo Vadis reception.
Info: Launches October 2, Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, W1 ( 020 7437 9585, quovadissoho.co.uk)
Bakers: Robin Weekes, 49, bakes; his wife Clare Kelly, 46, delivers to market or to mums on school runs. Their six children help.
Goods: 120 loaves, 300 olive sticks weekly. 12 varieties of sourdough breads include rye, spelt, wholemeal and others with fruit or garlic. “I mix everything by hand. We’re trying gluten-free.”
Space: A 5×3 metre conservatory. Weekes bought a reconditioned single deck oven — he built a brick oven in the garden but found it impractical in winter.Story: A former social worker, Weekes taught himself how to bake, then found people wanted to buy his bread. The couple won the contract to supply athletes with toast during the Olympics. “[We] had no idea how to start a business but we knew Robin’s bread was good,” says Kelly. “My older daughter and I would leave at 5.45am to deliver the bread … she and the middle children would wash, dry and grease the tins ready for when Robin woke up.”
Info: Loaves from £2.99, Fri/Sat, Partridge’s food market, King’s Road, SW3 (wappingsourdough.com)
THE HORNBEAM BAKERS’ COLLECTIVE
Bakers: Eight bakers baking for local stalls and a café, Walthamstow.
Goods: Around 60 loaves weekly: sourdoughs, soda breads. Flour comes from Dove’s Farm.
Space: Five bake from home using tiny ovens, others use the industrial kitchen at the community centre.
Story: “I supplied to the Hornbeam store, then I baked from there. Then some others came along and we decided to make it into a collective,” says Pilar, who bakes 15 loaves each week.
Info: Bread £2.50-£3. Hornbeam Café, 458 How Street, Walthamstow, E17 (hornbeam.org.uk)
The Londoners’ Loaf results are announced at the Real Bread Festival, October 5 (realbreadcampaign.org)