Discover a Day in the Life of a Microbaker
In this blog, we explore the life of a Microbaker who produces bread for her local community.
Our EIT Food Day in the Life series is an educational resource aimed at young people and professionals who are interested in the agrifood job market. We profile a wide range of careers in the agrifood sector, interviewing professionals to find out what their job is like, why it is important, and how you could take up the profession.
You will learn:
- What a typical day is like as a Microbaker
- The main responsibilities of a Microbaker
- Why this industry matters to our wider food system
- How you can take up this career path
Meet Alexandra, a baker and small business owner at The Crow’s Rest Bakehouse, an award winning microbakery based in Wakefield. The Crow’s Rest Bakehouse produces nutritious, tasty breads that are made to order using organic and locally sourced ingredients.
Alexandra tells us about her job as a Microbaker, and how you can train to become one too.
A Day In The Life of a Microbaker
What does a typical day as a Microbaker involve?
Alexandra is a microbaker who works from home. To setup her business, Alexandra converted her downstairs living space into a fully functional bakery. She bakes sourdough bread twice a week for customers who order online and then come to collect the bread from her home. In preparation to bake day, Alexandra downloads the customer orders from her website to calculate the amount of dough she will need. She then prepares the starter which is a dough filled with natural yeast and bacteria to help sourdough bread to rise. The doughs she creates are slowly fermented, whether made using sourdough or commercial yeast processes, to enable the individual taste and consistency of the bread.
Once the fermentation process is complete, the doughs are mixed and once they have fully developed, Alexandra starts to shape the bread and then prepares them for baking. Once the loaves are baked, Alexandra’s customers come to collect their orders.
When she is not baking for her customers, Alexandra teaches others how to bake artisan bread from her own kitchen. She teaches classes in small groups to ensure every individual can learn the process and ask questions. Alexandra enjoys sharing her passion and expertise with others, and baking classes are a great way to learn a new a skill, whilst meeting other people in your community.
Alexandra notes that: “I think an important thing to remember when you are making bread is that every mistake is a lesson, so don’t be afraid of something going wrong. That’s how you will learn the most!”
How does a career as a microbaker support the wider food industry?
Microbakers give people the opportunity to shop local and have an understanding about where their food comes from. Food miles are kept low, produce is fresh, and the local community is supported. Microbakers such as Alexandra, are championing sustainable food production and bringing the community together through a direct-to-customer approach.
Where possible, buying food from local producers helps to support small businesses which contribute to a large proportion of our food industry. Small businesses play a key role in many communities and help to reach customers who cannot access larger food retailers.
As a microbaker, how do you reach your customers?
Currently, Alexandra is providing bread for local customers through her website, as well as supplying nearby independent restaurants. By having a direct-to-customer approach, she is supporting other small businesses and creating a sense of community with customers who recommend her bread.
“Here in Wakefield, I mostly do retail, direct to customers. Sometimes they will buy extra loaves to give to their neighbours, or they will buy extra because they have friends coming over and want to have a treat.
“I have 3 restaurants at the moment that are buying bread [from me]. I have been to one where the staff asked me to bring flyers because customers kept asking where they get the bread from, so that was nice to hear as well.”
How can I get involved in this area? What pathways are there into your role?
Alexandra says: “The great thing about bread is that you don’t need to be any age to do it. There is a famous baker who started when she was 14 [years old] with her father. She is now 16 [years old] and they have their own bakery, she is an amazing baker”.
Pathways into a career in baking can include attending cookery classes, studying a food-related degree at university or working in a local bakery to gain experience. Six years ago, Alexandra started out volunteering in bakeries which resulted in her starting her microbakery as “an excuse to bake.”
“I needed to bake more and more and more to practice, but we couldn’t eat all the bread on our own.” Alexandra never set out to have her own business, however she could not find the job she wanted; therefore, she created it for herself. Learning how to set-up a small business can be daunting, however by speaking to other local small business owners, you can get guidance and information on how to set up your own business.
What is the best part of the job?
Community is extremely important to Alexandra, she says: “It’s been really important for me to give back to the community. I found City of Sanctuary which is a small charity that supports Asylum Seekers, so I bake every week for them a handful of loaves.”
Alexandra also enjoys developing her baking knowledge. “I think it’s a great way of building up knowledge and skills and confidence in yourself and to get some extra money doing something that is really fun.”
Alexandra sums up running a Microbakery in three words:
Rewarding, exciting, challenging.
Are you a bread lover?
If you are a bread lover, you may be interested to learn more in our course “Understanding food labels” which you can find out more about here.
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About EIT Food’s Day in the series
EIT Food’s Day in the Life Series is a video series that explores the variety of careers that our agrifood system has to offer. The aim of the series is to raise awareness of the range of high-skilled and highly rewarding jobs that the food and farming sector has to offer and inspire younger generations to consider one of these careers for themselves.