Nothing distinguishes 6 Edward Street, Saltaire as a bakery until you stand in front of its navy blue, front door and see a small label with the name of the bakery printed in tiny letters.
When the door opens the delicious smell of freshly baked bread and cakes wafts onto the street.
Jez Belsten and Lisa Fraser own this 19th century, two up two down cottage come bakery in the heart of the historic Yorkshire village of Saltaire. When I arrive at 7.30 in the morning Jez is busy shaping bread on a long stainless steel counter.
He wears a flat, cloth cap to hold his mop of dark tousled hair in place. He says a cheery hello before a timer sounds to remind him a batch of loaves is ready to take out of the oven in the scullery next door.
He reappears holding a tray of freshly baked bread rolls to his left ear and marvels, “I can hear bread singing when it comes out of the oven”.
It was a busy scene in this tardis-like, 4.5 metres square room with funky neon lights, flagstone floor and exposed brickwork.
Trays of baked goods were stacked ready for dispatch on tall metal shelves lining the walls. Then a series of knocks on the front door sounded as customers came to collect their orders. Customers include, Friends of Ham, Ilkley; The Record Café, Bradford; the Northern Monk Brew Co, Leeds and a nearby pub the Cap and Collar, Saltaire.
“The bakery operates in two ways,” explains Lisa. “We supply local businesses with bread, savouries and cakes and we also run a ‘Pop Up bakery’ selling baked produce from the house, two or three times a month. People get to know when we are open on Twitter and Facebook. Social media plays a huge part in how we market the business. Customers also email orders and we love baking for parties.”
Edward Street Bakery also ‘pops up’ at events such as Real Food Ilkley on the first Sunday of every month. “We love Real Food Ilkley because what is for sale is carefully curated so you don’t get two stalls selling the same thing,” says Lisa.
Their menu includes the delicious and unusual. Such as raisin, caraway and rye bread; sausage, apple and mustard roll; chicken and wild mushroom pie; spiced orange doughnuts, sticky raisin cinnamon buns and a salty kiss pumpkin and almond cake.
Jez often get ideas of what to bake from customers who send photos from their mobile phones of interesting food they have eaten when travelling abroad. One customer sent Jez a photo of a Polish poppy seed, sweat bread roll called a makowiec. Jez made it for his return and put it on the menu for everyone else to try too.
Jez is a fan of craft beer and has been inspired to make bread with a distinctly ‘beery’ theme using yeast drained from the fermentation tanks of the Northern Monk Brew Company, aromatic hops to flavour the flour and sweet malted barley to speed up the action of yeast and give a sweet, crunchy bite to the bread. Jez’s breads look and taste fantastic and are all made using a long fermentation method. Which is a hallmark of quality in my books.
Lisa, studied Graphic Design in London and has lived in Saltaire since she was three years old. Jez is originally from Bristol and was a student at Huddersfield University. The couple met while working in the Diner at Salts Mill. They dreamt of setting up a bakery in the village but their plans were thwarted by the bureaucracy surrounding leasing a building suitable for a bakery. It was out of a sense of frustration they decided to convert the downstairs of their two up two down terraced house into a bakery .
Their first venture as a pop up bakery was the Edward Street Jamboree in 2015 which ran parallel to the Saltaire Festival. Their tiny house and back yard was rigged up for a DJ to play music, they had beer on tap from Northern Monks Brewery Company, they sold their own food and Casa Expresso, a local coffee roaster supplied wonderful coffee. It was a great success, the Edward Street Bakery was born and they amassed a huge following on Twitter eager to find out when and where these fabulous gorilla bakers would pop up next.
The bakery is now working to capacity. Early next year Jez and Lisa are starting a bread subscription scheme and hoping to move to a unit which can accommodate larger ovens and machinery which will increase the efficiency of their traditional production methods rather than replace them. Jez and Lisa also want to take on more staff and work with like minded people who can help them to develop the business.
What is it like living in the two rooms above the shop?
“It is a quick commute,” Lisa quips. “It is a bit cramped but a necessity at the moment and a means to an end. We manage because we love what we do and appreciate living in such a beautiful location with a park and a canal near by”.
After a reviving cup of tea and piece of Jez’s wonderful cake I left Edward Street feeling a sense of joy. This couple have revived what was once commonplace in the UK, a local bakery set in the heart of a small community providing fresh, wholesome baked produce for everyone to enjoy. Lisa always sign the bakery e-mails “with much peace, Lisa” which sums up the couples take on how they want to run their business and seems just the right signature for the forthcoming season of goodwill.
Jez’s chocolate and beetroot cake
250g caster sugar
250 g cooked beetroot, roughly chopped up
240 ml light vegetable oil such as sunflower
220 g self raising flour, sieved
30 g good quality cocoa powder
200 g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
200 ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 180C /gas mark 4. Line a 20 - 22 cm cake tin with non stick baking parchment and brush lightly with oil.
Whisk the sugar and eggs together until well combined. Liquidise the oil and the beetroot in a food processor. Stir the flour and cocoa powder into the egg and sugar mixture and finally mix in the beetroot and oil. Pour the cake mixture into the lined cake tin. Cook for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. For the icing: gently melt the chocolate pieces in a bowl over hot water and whisk in enough cream to form a thick spreadable icing. Spread the icing over the cooled cake and allow to set before serving.