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One morning when I was walking to school, I saw a black bicycle pass by that had a trunk attached to the back and a large wicker basket for bread in the front. It passed by so quickly that I could hardly pull out my phone to snap a picture. But I made a mental note of the words Little Bread Pedlar in typewriter font on it to look up at a later time.
Over the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about how cute the bicycle was. I kept talking to everyone about it – about a girl pedaling through Covent Garden on a bicycle with a basketful of bread. I wanted to ride that bicycle and go around town selling bread. On a day off from school, I looked it up and loved their ideals behind baking – “By keeping it simple and doing it well one can achieve the best results” I read that they use the best ingredients – Valrhona chocolate, Lescure butter and Shipton Mill flour. I was sold. By just looking at their website, you can tell they care about what they do. It struck a chord. I quickly emailed them my CV to intern with them. I was especially excited because they were doing thing that were unfamiliar to me – British bakes like Eccles Cake and Bakewell tart and things that weren’t my strong suite – breads and croissants. I figured I’d rather be doing this on my day off from school to make the most of my 3 months in London.
I heard back from them within a day. Nothing about coming in for an interview or trial. But a straightforward – “Can you come in next Monday for a 10AM shift?”
It’s been three weeks since I began working at Little Bread Pedlar and I love it here. I work with Nicola, the partner in the business, and Stewart and Hannah. All of them such lovely people. All of them, good teachers. I’ve spent my time getting acquainted with the recipes and making croissants, almond croissants (probably my favorite thing – almond butter smeared in a croissant and topped with almond flakes), Eccles cakes (dry fruit mince made in a butter and brown sugar base and stuffed into puff pastry), brownies (the best I’ve eaten yet and way better than all the brownie recipes I’ve tried. And why wouldn’t it be when it’s loaded with Valrhona chocolate and cocoa), Spelt soda bread (the most non-temperamental bread I’ve met), pain au chocolat, brioche and shortbread.
But you know what my most favourite thing to do is? Roll croissants. Stretch out the piece of cool triangular dough a little at the bottom, then pull out the “nose” and then, in one swift motion, roll up the dough from the bottom towards the pointy end, pinching the last bit it just a little so the croissant doesn’t unfurl on baking. There’s something about the touch of croissant dough that puts me into a different state of mind. Rolling soft, buttery dough to make perfectly shaped croissants, for me, right now, is the definition of happiness.
I love slipping my whites on. I love the navy blue and white striped apron. I love my hands covered in flour. I love the smell of spelt bread when I pull it out fresh out of the oven. Working in places like these make me want to work in kitchens all my life.
I’m lucky that my school schedule lets me work and make the most of my time in London. For those mailing in asking about working/internships in restaurants and bakeries before/during the course, I cannot urge more the importance of practice in the real world in addition to going to culinary school. Surely, you learn techniques at school and know how you must make something, but that’s not good enough. You need to make it thousands of times before you really master it. And you need to be efficient. As the old adage goes, practice makes… More importantly, you need to know if working in kitchens is for you. Long hours on your feet back and physically strenuous work is not something school prepares you for and you should get a feel of that before you make a big, fat investment for culinary school.
If you’re in London, come by to the bakery in Dockley Industrial Estate, as a part of the Maltby Street and Spa Road market, open every Saturday to the public until about 2PM. Our neighbours here include London Honey Company (which, I hear, sells an amazing London honey), Ham and Cheese Co, Kernel Breweries, Coleman Coffee Roasters, Fern Verrow Vegetables and La Grotta Ices (I loved the nectarine and basil sorbet here).
More photos of LBP on Facebook.
PS: To keep up with my London adventures, you can follow my Instagram feed and Twitter, where I post pictures and thoughts more frequently than on the blog.
- ^ RSS feed (feeds.feedburner.com)
- ^ their website (lbpedlar.com)
- ^ La Grotta Ices (www.standard.co.uk)
- ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
- ^ Instagram feed (followgram.me)
- ^ PurpleFoodie Twitter (twitter.com)