For some time now I’d been picking up aromatic rumours and tales of The One Mile Bakery circulating in Canton. These telling snippets of information – delicious golden loaves, succulent jams, heart-warming soups – were so tantalising as to make me all but helpless to follow my nose and find out more.
The One Mile Bakery, to those of us not already in the know, is a kitchen in Cardiff which delivers, on a subscription basis, bread parcels once a week. Though customers choose their preferred types of bread beforehand (or a combination of bread, soup and condiment), each parcel is essentially a surprise, with seasonal ingredients sourced and foraged locally to create the selection. These packages are delivered by bike within a one-mile radius of the kitchen, to Llandaff, Pontcanna and Canton.
When I speak with Elisabeth, founder of The One Mile Bakery (launched May 14 last year), she has just finished hosting a day workshop in bread-making, another service OMB provides, and is settling down to a long awaited glass of wine. However, respite is brief in the world of this baker, as she tells me she will later on this evening be at it again, baking well into the night.
Elisabeth is a busy woman. An ex full-time journalist, and theatre critic on the side, she gave up her two jobs, one at the Guardian and the other as lecturer at Swansea University, in order to finally set up a business that had long been in the foreground of her mind. Always a passionate cook, and often the food writer left behind observing and extracting additional information from the chefs, Elisabeth set up The One Mile Bakery with the view of it being a one, or two, day a week hobby business.
Within one minute of the OMB website going live, however, Elisabeth had already received orders, and it hasn’t stopped since. Subscriptions are now put on a waiting list, though Elisabeth carefully navigates the delivery route in order to incorporate as many as possible. Elisabeth also runs a range of courses, from the basics of bread-making to sourdough-baking, which aren’t limited to those in the one-mile radius, allowing people to learn how to make the very same bread that she herself delivers.
An OMB beetroot soup recipe was recently featured in and on the front cover of the Guardian’s new food supplement, Cook, the first piece of UK-wide coverage that the bakery has received, something which has tickled Elisabeth, coming coincidentally from her previous employer.
The larger part of OMB’s clientele is in Canton, and Elisabeth was surprised to see that many more young people now choose to spend their income on homemade food, a trend that seems to be rising steadily across all generations.
“It’s so pleasing and heartening that people will support local businesses,” says Elisabeth. “I think it’s important that it’s local, and about getting to know the person who makes the food. After all,” she adds, “I’m just one woman in her kitchen.”
All pictures used (bar Elisabeth in action) are courtesy of Huw Jones photography; all rights reserved