Let’s be honest, different life stages and changing priorities can see career choices inspire and define us one moment before becoming distinctly onerous the next. Simply being in the wrong job can demoralise even the most motivated among us. During such times, hobbies and interests can rise from trifling, fun pastimes to essential tools to maintain a healthy outlook whilst the battle to strike a sensible balance between working and living a happy life rages on.
Like many of us, Luisa George has worked a number of different jobs in her life and looks back on them with, shall we say, varying degrees of affection. For her salvation from the daily grind was found in baking, “I always baked as a stress relief and was always happiest when baking”.
It’s a passion which has endured throughout Luisa’s life. From baking cakes for workers on the building sites where she held various positions to amassing a collection of over one hundred books on the subject, “It’s all I ever read about” she explains. Baking has been Luisa’s one, constant, reassuring and fulfilling pastime to counter the demands of working life.
A fascination with baking bread has triumphed over cakes. Even today Luisa compares the science of bread baking to alchemy, her sense of wonderment at the chemistry transforming simple ingredients into bread has not abated thousands of loaves later.
She enthusiastically recalls last summer and the effect the heatwave had on baking, the weather was so influential normal quantities of ingredients produced far more bread than usual. Indeed allowing and planning for humidity and temperature is a year round reality for successful baking and a challenge Luisa clearly relishes.
That’s not say it all came easily to her, far from it. “I found it so intimidating that I used to think bread was made by people from NASA!” she jokes before thoroughly recommending the Ashburton Cookery School with whom she undertook a course to learn more.
Thereafter she practised, experimented, researched and practised a whole lot more before finally cracking the ability to consistently bake various types of high quality bread. Yet despite totally immersing herself in her passion, and regardless of the longevity of her love affair with baking, Luisa never once dreamt she could, or would, turn it into a business.
Life, however, was destined to change that. Motherhood, establishing priorities around family life, and a well timed redundancy, gave cause to take stock and question whether baking was the key to unlocking a family friendly part time income stream.
Working from home, the kitchen was scrupulously brought up to the highest environmental health and food regulation standards. A select menu of different breads was devised and, in April 2018, the first tentative steps saw modest sales to neighbours.
Today, Luisa bakes to order twice a week every Monday and Friday. The business is run entirely through Facebook, last orders are received by 6:00pm the night before (Sundays and Thursdays). Then, very early in the morning she starts the dough making process, meticulously weighing and calculating ingredients according to each and every individual order in readiness for the day’s bake.
It’s worth nothing that Luisa will still be working on the dough whilst, in the same amount of time, many mass produced breads have been started, finished and are in the process of being packaged and churned out for sale. The comparisons don’t end there. The only additive Luisa uses to extend the life of her bread is English rapeseed oil. “All bread should ever be is water, flour, yeast and salt” she explains. It shows, you can feel and taste the difference in the texture of her bread.
This care and attention to detail is down to Luisa baking for customers in the same way she would bake for friends. She limits baking days not just to prioritise her family, but also because she never wants to risk losing the quality or consistency of her bread. Her approach clearly works and has struck a chord with many.
A loyal following regularly order their weekly sandwich loaves on a Monday whilst a preference for different flavoured focaccia baked on Fridays is becoming prevalent and many of her customers refer to looking forward to ‘Focaccia Friday’. Luisa still has some capacity to welcome new customers, she can deliver to a small area of Saltash and welcomes collections.
Customers can order from traditional loaves, flavoured tear ‘n’ shares and focaccia with different toppings (to name a few) for the baking day they want to collect on. New breads are being added all the time and Luisa loves a challenge so if you don’t see what you want just ask! If you’re planning a party or thinking about catering for an occasion, larger orders are welcome subject a minimum of two weeks notice to enable Luisa to plan and prepare.
Should you be fortunate enough to meet Luisa and discover first hand her passion for baking, it’s inspiring. She is very humble about her achievements yet is keen to encourage others who may unsure about pursuing their interests as a form of work.
She shares,“You always get the bravery after the scary thing. Go for it, enjoy the rollercoaster ride and if it doesn’t work out, well… it will be something to laugh about in the pub afterwards”!
Discover the menu and find out more about products/planned bakes/ordering and events Luisa will be attending on the Saltash Bakery Facebook page.