Artisan bakery celebrates first year

A Shropshire couple, who turned their passion for baking into a successful artisan bakery, have celebrated their first year in business.

Kate Warwick and Martin Priddy set up the micro bakery Bread and Loaf, in Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, and are now looking to expand.

The bakery specialises in long ferment and sourdough breads, all made using traditional methods and natural ingredients, as well as cakes and pastries.

Before donning their aprons Kate, a lifelong home baker, had run her own busy dental practice and Martin had worked in marketing. But their lives changed when Kate took an artisan bread-making course with baking guru Tom Baker, of Loaf, in Birmingham, four years ago.

“I began experimenting and was baking so much bread that we were filling the freezer and giving loaves away,” said Kate.

“The better I got, the more I wanted to experiment. I did another course to learn the art of sourdough, which I love because sourdough is the most challenging and oldest way of making bread. It got to the stage where we wanted to take our breadmaking to a different level.”

In the meantime Martin had been made redundant from his marketing job and was looking for a fresh challenge. Their opportunity came when a former artisan bakery, The Shrewsbury Bakehouse, closed its doors and came up for sale.

Within a month they had bought the lease and packed themselves off to a course with artisan bakery start-up expert Andrew Whitley, founder of The Real Bread Campaign.

“He was a real inspiration, helping us to see the reality of running a bakery and the baking life,” said Kate.

 “We then spent three months refurbishing the bakery, put in a new oven and opened just over a year ago. It was a little bit scary at first because we went from baking three loaves a day to 50 or 60. Now we’re baking over 150 loaves a day as well as cakes, brownies and pastries. “

“We’ve had quite a journey from baking bread at home as keen amateurs to running a bakery and baking bread that people seem to love,” said Martin.

“It has all felt like it was meant to be and our lives haven’t been the same since. It’s hard work and long hours. It’s 12 hours on your feet and more washing up than we’ve ever done in our lives, but we’re also fitter, happier and healthier.”

Kate sold her dental practice but didn’t want to completely give up dentistry, which she also feels very passionate about. She manages to work as a dentist for another dental practice three days a week.

“So for three days a week I’m a baker, stretching and moulding dough, and another three days I’m a dentist mending teeth,” she said.

The bakery currently opens Thursdays to Saturdays, but there are plans to extend opening times to other days of the week and Martin and Kate are actively seeking a new member of staff to help with growing demand.

All their loaves are made using organic flour from Shipton Mill, Gloucestershire. One of their most popular signature loaves is ‘The Shropshire Whey’, made using whey from Shropshire cheesemakers Appleby’s.