‘Our kitchen sourdough bakery came out of a real community need’
- Credit: Archant
Jesse and Sofia Sutton Jones started their micro-bakery during lockdown from their Crouch End flat after shielding neighbours begged for good bread, and are now aiming to open their first shop
Keen baker Sofia Sutton Jones and husband Jesse started up their accidental micro-bakery during lockdown, delivering sourdough around their Crouch End neighbourhood.
But their first floor flat is now bursting at the seams with a large oven, dough mixer, two polar fridges and electric delivery bike - with barely enough room for their 15-month-old daughter.
Now the fledgling business, which started via word of mouth on WhatsApp, has exceeded its £25,000 Kickstarter target to open a bricks and mortar bakery in Middle Lane.
It was an SOS from a shielding neighbour that sparked their lockdown baking frenzy says Jesse.
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“Sofia is a passionate baker who has run sourdough classes in our home, a vague dream we had had for several years became a possibility when we saw there was a real need in our community for bread delivery. Crouch End is a lovely community and we made a bunch of new neighbourhood friends during lockdown with people were saying ‘we can’t leave the house please can you make us bread’.
“We offered to bake a neighbour some bread and went round and dropped it off. The look on his face when he saw the loaf and the look on Sofia’s face, it just felt right. The stars aligned.”
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Within two weeks they were getting up at 5am on twice-weekly bake days, making up to 90 loaves, which Jesse delivered up and down the hills of Crouch End on his Brompton.
“With a young baby we were up at five anyway! We did no marketing, it just word of mouth as people shared it on different WhatsApp groups set up to help each other.
“As each road caught on, orders would flood in from Weston Park, Denton Road, Upland Road. To stop us getting overwhelmed we set up an online system so people could hop on and make an order.”
The couple had already invested in a Rofco oven for Sofia’s sourdough classes which bakes up to 12 loaves at a time. Each is fermented for 24 hours in the fridge before baking, and soon there were two fridges in their dining room, a labour-saving dough mixer, and the foldable bike with rear trailer.
“Our dining room was a bakery, with 15kg sacks of Shipton Mill flour and packaging in the baby’s room. We were also selling small bags of flour to people who couldn’t get hold of it during lockdown.”
From the ‘N8 Sourdough’ made from organic stoneground wholemeal flour, organic spelt flour and organic strong white bread, to a rye sourdough “for the Germans” they branched out into brownies, Basque cheesecakes doughnuts and croissants to fill the time between proving and fermenting.
“We got so lucky with a tremendous surge in popularity for sourdough and baking,” says Jesse.
“So many people became hobbyists we were fielding lots of questions about how to make sourdough, but we enjoy passing on the passion and I think home bakers realised what an amazing art there was to making a good loaf.”
The couple have now “reached our limit” and to continue to grow launched a campaign to turn a former Off Licence on Middle Lane into a small batch bakery where they will continue to deliver by bike, and hold community breadmaking workshops for adults and children.
They also have plans to film classes and tutorials to inspire bakers worldwide to make their own loaves.
“You need to make a huge amount of bread to make a good return so we’ve taken a leap to have a retail space on the High Street, it’s an opportunity for people like us to regenerate an old shop, and our mission is to keep things independent, use local produce where we can and make things in small batches to keep quality high.”
Order at sourdoughsophia.co.uk They have reached £32,450 of their £25,000 Kickstarter goal donate here www.kickstarter.com/projects/sourdoughsophia/sourdough-sophia-the-microbakery