A day in the life of a Suffolk bakery
by Lovefood Team | 01 February 2012 | 0 commentsTweet
In the third of our monthly series, Joanna Brennan, manager of the Pump Street Bakery in Orford, speaks in her own words about why bread matters
The Pump Street Bakery day begins sometime between midnight and 2am when the bakers arrive at our converted barn, just outside the village, to start mixing, shaping and baking the loaves for the day.
As manager of the shop, I escape the early mornings, but my father Chris is the head baker and goes in to oversee the bakery. If I haven't had a call by 8am then I know we should expect a full complement or sourdoughs, baguettes, buns, croissants, doughnuts and Eccles cakes to arrive shortly.
The rest of the staff arrive at the shop at 8:30am to set up for our 9am opening. This can sometimes be a bit of a mad dash with hundreds of loaves and pastries to unload from the van and the coffee machine to calibrate. The warm loaves help to heat the shop, and in winter we light the wood burner to warm the café for the first customers of the day. By 9 am there are often a couple of hungry people waiting outside!
The morning is a busy time behind the scenes. My father does all of our bakery product development, so he is often bringing over trials of new loaves or pastries for me to sample (a tough job). As the cook for the café the time between 9am and noon on weekdays is my prep time, so I've usually got steamy pots of soup on the stove and a long list off mise-en-place to do. On weekends I'm serving up stacks of buttermilk pancakes and bacon buns to brunch customers. It's 12 o'clock before I know it!
We have a great team at the shop who really enjoy serving all of our customers, from our regulars to those who've popped in for the first time. As an artisan bakery that specialises in sourdough we sell mostly unfamiliar loaves, named after local places like Gedgrave and Kelsale, so we tend to take quite a bit of time with each new customer explaining how sourdough is made and the ingredients in our different loaves.
We are big supporters of the Real Bread campaign and we're finding a lot more customers are seeking out small bakeries who don't use softeners and improvers, but bake using just flour, water, yeast, and real ingredients, daily, like we do.
Our day starts winding down at 4 pm when the shop closes. If we have any bread leftover it gets taken to a nearby emergency family shelter by one of our bakers on his way home. We sweep, mop and clean the cafe, shop and kitchen from top to tail so that all is ready for the next day
All of the staff finish at 5pm which leaves me in the shop on my own. This is my management time, so I make myself a cup of tea and organise schedules, plan the cafe menu for the next day, and order anything we might need (an endless job). I also try to catch up with twitter, facebook, our website and our newsletter. With a bit of supper and all of that, it can sometimes be time for the bakers to begin again by the time I get to bed!
It's hard work to run your own small business, but its amazing when you see results and have people coming back for more. We're working on renovating an old Citroen HY van to be a mobile Pump Street Bakery, bringing our bread around the county, so watch this space.
More 'day in the life' articles