“All you need is flour, water, salt and an oven,” says Becky Mears, who has set up One Mile Bakery in Paulton. The concept is good food made with quality ingredients for the local community, delivered by electric bike. Here she tells us about the new business…
You have just launched One Mile Bakery in Paulton. What’s the idea behind the business?
The idea behind One Mile Bakery (OMB) is to offer good food with great ingredients to the local area, specifically within a mile’s radius.
The business was the idea of Elisabeth Mahoney who set up the first OMB in Cardiff. The idea is something I’d love to see across the whole of the UK. It’s a simple, back-to-basics concept and I like to think it brings back the traditional idea of sharing recipes and techniques. We aim to deliver great bread in an eco-friendly way and teach others how to make their own in a home environment. All you need is flour, water, salt and an oven.
What were you doing before you set up OMB?
I’ve worked in a corporate environment for many years, at the forefront of online community building. So lots of sitting down at a desk in an office with my keyboard of rage. Some of those years working for other people were really tough, with a young family and the lack of freedom to be as creative as I wanted to be. I wanted a job that brought me joy and that would fit around a busy family.
Has the business required a big outlay?
The outlay is what you make of it. You can get away with a domestic oven and basic equipment. I have chosen to go for a bigger Rofco oven to make my life easier. I also use mainly organic ingredients, but even great flour doesn’t break the bank.
How strict are you about the one mile radius?
Very, I have a pretty high demand locally with a waiting list so everyone is within the mile.
The business sounds very streamlined and eco-friendly…
Yes! I think we can all contribute towards the bigger picture and I’m very proud to be doing my bit.
How many loaves of bread can you make in a week?
In theory, I could make a thousand loaves if I baked all day, every day, but that isn’t the idea. I deliver to 25 households around Paulton and host at least one cookery class a week, so I bake about 30 loaves and teach others to bake around 20 loaves. It is very much a conscious decision to not max myself out with baking, markets and delivering to shops. I hate food waste and want to provide food where I know it will be eaten and enjoyed. The real pleasure comes from showing someone how great it is to bake.
You offer bread, preserves and soups. How do the orders work?
Subscribers pick a type of bread: sourdough, classic or a mixture of the two. Every week is something new – I have a different soup, classic loaf and sourdough loaf each week.
Are the recipes you use your own?
The recipes in the classes are written by Elisabeth but are all adaptable and flexible. The weekly recipes are mainly mine, dependent on the season or what ingredients I come across. I recently went to Wells Food Festival and bought some black garlic that I will be adding to this week’s sourdough, for example.
Tell us about some of your favourite loaves, soups and preserves…
You can’t beat a really well done classic white loaf. Once you nail that perfect fluffy white, you can make almost anything by adding ingredients and changing the liquid and the flours. I love brioche, good olive bread and the family favourite is a chocolate sourdough.
Caramelised onion chutney is my personal favourite and blackberry jam with berries from the local hedgerows. The soup I’ve had most feedback on was a lovely basic but tasty potato and leek soup.
How do you cope with hills and a full bike load of deliveries?
Ha! I enjoy the freedom of a good bike ride but it’s never really been my thing. I have an electric bike that helps with the hills. It is very much pedal-powered but gives you the umpf when you need it.
What sort of reception have you had from your customers?
Amazing. I was hopeful that people would like the idea but I wasn’t expecting to have a waiting list before I’d started. The local people are very warm and I’ve heard shouts of “There’s the bread lady!” a few times now as I whiz past on my bike.
What cookery classes do you offer?
There are at least four classes a month, often more. You can choose from Introduction to Baking, Italian, French, Vegan, Sourdough, Festive and Breads of the World.