Numbers of artisan bakeries on the rise

Bakers: Ben Davies and Martha Brown at their Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road.
Bakers: Ben Davies and Martha Brown at their Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road.
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Food budgets may be tight, but the dough is rising in Sheffield...

The city now has two more artisan bakeries swelling the number of existing outlets traditionally hand-crafting specialist daily bread.

Cat Lane Bakery in Walkley opened three years ago and last year, Sharrow Vale Road welcomed the Seven Hills Bakery. The city’s Castle Market has had a baker on-site for a month and now Abbeydale Road are awaking to the smell of baking bread thanks to Ben Davies, who came all the way from Australia to do it.

Ben and fellow baker Martha Brown, a 24-year-old former fencing contractor, set up shop this weekend. Customers queued for their long-fermented sour doughs, speciality breads and patisserie.

The pair met while studying baking at the School of Artisan Food at Welbeck - where the Seven Hills team also met.

Ben, a graphic designer in Perth, spotted the course on the internet. “What appealed was the traditional skills being taught and the focus on organic ingredients,” says Ben, 29. They found an old hairdressers’ salon on Abbeydale Road, in Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter.

“We were amazed by the number of customers on 
our first day. A £3 sourdough loaf with toasted hazelnuts and sour cherries plus a roast potato and rosemary bread were the best-sellers.

“We’re keeping prices 
modest, though; our loaves start at £1.50. We see ourselves as a community baker and want to get real breads into everyone’s homes.

“We want locals to be able to walk to us whenever they need fresh bread, so we’re open until 6pm Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm.”

Couple work hard for their daily bread

FORMER university students Ally Farr and Tim Chuter are working hard for their daily bread - and yours.

The couple open up their bakery, run from two stalls in the meat and fish hall at Castle Market, at 3am. They serve until 2.30pm daily and it’s usually 6.30pm when they cycle home.

“It’s exhausting but we love it,” says Ally, who had set out to be an urban planner until the recession struck.

Tim did a degree in international political economy before doing a bakery course at Sheffield College. He honed his skills at a little bakery on Shoreham Street, then bought its equipment when it closed down.

They started searching for premises and realised the city’s indoor market would be ideal.

“We’d always shopped here. It’s packed with great local produce, the rent is 
reasonable, everyone is friendly and our landlords are the city council,” says Ally, 27.

They kitted out the stalls with recycled materials and opened up in September, baking daily using organic British and Fare Trade ingredients and free-range eggs, plus any other ingredients they need bought from surrounding stalls.

Price-conscious market shoppers are snapping up breadcakes at six for £1, small loaves at 75p, cakes from 80p and wholemeal soda bread at £1.40.