Former Great British Bake Off contestant opens micro-bakery in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 15:18 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:18 22 April 2020
Simon Blackwell set up the kitchen in a week and is now serving the community of Dereham and beyond with fresh bread.
An amateur baker whose only claim to fame was getting through two rounds of The Great British Bake Off in 2011, has set up a community bakery in Norfolk, providing a fresh bread delivery service.
On Friday, April 17, Simon Blackwell found himself in a hastily borrowed commercial kitchen, just outside Dereham, facing an enormous task - launching a community bakery and delivery service with no bread ovens and one helper in the kitchen. He had set himself the challenge of baking and delivering 100 loaves in one day.
Simon says the idea came out of a desire to keep busy and to be as helpful as possible during these testing times. “So many people are at home and looking for some good old-fashioned human interaction and good quality fresh bread, that I just had to jump in. On Friday evening we made 26kg of dough meaning that Saturday morning was going to be manic.” Using locally milled flour, baked and delivered by the baker, this is the real ‘source local and shop local’ dream coming to life.
Of course, the secret to great bread is the proving, where the dough needs to rise in a steady and even temperature. With and increasing number of loaves and a freezing kitchen, Simon had to improvise and adapted an upright chiller so they could safely and effectively prove all the dough.
Thanks to Facebook and word of mouth, not only did words of encouragement and support start pouring in, so did the orders. “We fell a little short of our 100, but with understanding customers, amazing volunteers and good weather we delivered 84 loaves to the doorsteps of 52 homes throughout Norfolk.”
Simon knows he couldn’t have got this up and running without help from some very supportive people. His partner Celine who saw the potential in this idea, his co-baker for working so hard and adapting to all the challenges, and his youngest son Dylan, who helped out with all the deliveries.
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All deliveries are being carried out with customer and staff safety in mind and customers have enjoyed having fresh bread delivered to their doorstep, receiving a wave from the baker, at a safe distance.
Dereham Micro Bakery is now seeking some key equipment to make the most of space that has been offered to them for expansion. With just one full height bread oven, a roll-in proving cupboard and the racks and trays to put the loaves on, they could begin increasing the numbers of loaves and the frequency of the bakes. If any local businesses can offer support, especially if their equipment is not being used at the moment, Simon would love to hear from them.
Regular updates will appear on the Dereham Micro Bakery FaceBook page, which is also where customers can order and anyone that can offer support can get in touch.
For now, the bakery will aim to bake every Saturday and Sunday with deliveries each day, so that customers get a fresh loaf delivered on the day it is baked. Over the weekend the bakery posts how many loaves are available and will take orders and arrange payment via its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dereham-micro-bakery
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