Our launch date of 1 March was chosen ages ago. We discovered One Mile Bakery in Cardiff, where Mike’s from, when we lived and worked in the Welsh capital. Our One Mile Bakery is the second OMB in Wales, and it’s only a few miles from where Lesley grew up in Swansea. So, for such a Welsh story for a Welsh couple, St David’s Day was the obvious choice. We planned our first bakes for deliveries and practised scoring loaves with daffodil motifs.
We then learned that our launch date coincided with Real Bread Week (23 February- 3 March) – the annual celebration of additive-free bread made with with quality flour and the magic ingredient: time. This seemed the best coincidence ever, as we’ve always baked that way – slow-fermented yeasted bread and sourdough, often just flour, water and salt. We’ve always called it “real bread”: now we are members of the Real Bread Campaign, promoting it in our local community.
But then the countdown to our launch seemed to be rather closer on the horizon all of a sudden. Our To Do list, as we created a micro-bakery as part of our new house, could be seen from outer space. Our shopping lists changed: instead of 1kg bags of flour, it’s 25kg sacks of flour; bannetons outnumber our dinner plates; we commissioned a stainless steel cover for our dining table, ordered a new Rofco B40 oven to increase baking capacity, and found a secondhand Hobart floor-standing mixer for sale nearby. We were so happy not to have to travel for hours in search of one, we almost did a kitchen dance as we carried it into the house, but at that moment we realised it was the heaviest thing we’d ever had to shift.
Somehow, between sourcing all this and redecorating the house we’ve only recently moved into, we’ve been scaling up our baking and road-testing baking schedules so we know that we can meet delivery times. Our kitchen has become a meeting place for all sorts of starters, bigas, poolish, pre-doughs, and dried ingredients soaking before they are added to doughs. We have been living largely on toast.
And yet, we’ve loved it. So much about our One Mile Bakery is new to us, but at the heart of it are things we’ve always done, always valued. Good food, proper food, made from scratch and free from nasties. Knowing where ingredients come from. Connecting with people who make and bake your food. It has been a steep learning curve at times, we may have come precariously close to nodding off while washing up bread bowls late at night, and our coffee consumption has rocketed, but we are thrilled that on St David’s Day our dream of baking bread for a living, and teaching others how to bake at home, will be real.