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"A very positive city": Sheffield welcomes new bakery I Said Bread

Co-founder Miranda updates us on the new Meersbrook micro bakery a few months after they opened their doors – including on the importance of choosing the right wheat. 

Witnessing people’s passion for what they do first hand brings to life their enthusiasm for food and why it matters so much to our communities. This is how I found myself surrounded by the delicious aromas of freshly-baked bread to meet with Miranda from I Said Bread and find out more about the newly-opened bakery.

There are some great things happening in the suburbs of Sheffield, as new independent food businesses open their doors. I Said Bread, located on the corner of Rushdale Road in Meersbrook, is one of these gems. Miranda, who is one half of the bakery, tells us why using local and seasonal ingredients is at the heart of what they do.

You have been open for a few months now. How is it all going?

Everyone has been so welcoming. A lot of people have said it is nice to have a shop here again, as it is how it would been. This is one of the last remaining places on a row of terrace houses which has not turned into a residential property.

It is really nice to be part of the neighbourhood, as before I worked in a London bakery which was mostly wholesale and you never got to see the people that eat the bread. It seems to be coming back around that people are keen to have small local independent options on their doorstep.

Miranda I said bread

Miranda, baker and one half of I Said Bread.

I Said Bread

The premises had been empty for years and was previously a hairdressers. When we looked around we could see there was a lot of work to do but I could see the potential.

Everyone has been super supportive. We are new to the area as Pete and I moved up from London and people have been so kind, it has been a bit overwhelming. The guys that run Tonco live nearby and have been great. We have had support from local businesses, and Max from Bullion Chocolate, which we use in our cookies, has lent us some fridges.

Right now we are finding what works with the menu and the opening hours. We live five minutes from the bakery which helps with the 4-5am starts. We have been switching up the menu to find out what people like and we want to be seasonal where possible. People who have allotments up the road have brought us fruit and herbs and I have used these in the bread or sweet bakes. We give them baked goods in return.

It sounds like you know your stuff. When did you start baking?

I started baking professionally in 2017. Before that I baked at home, but I don't think I was very good in hindsight. When you bake at home it is completely different to doing it professionally. I knew I wanted to do something tangible and more hands on and the bakery gave me the opportunity. It is knackering and physically demanding, but I enjoy it.

I had been baking bread for a while before we moved in here. I was baking from home for the Sheffield Organic Growers at Moss Valley for their veg box scheme so I knew that my recipes worked well.

I like baking things I will enjoy eating and experimenting with different recipes. At a recent Sheffield Wheat Experiment event people brought bakes from the countries they were from. Someone had made a Malaysian bake called a Mexican coffee bun. I decided to try to recreate my version and we have some on the counter today. I have used an enriched dough and there is espresso crackling on top and a slightly sweetened cream in the middle.

My favourite bread is the Millers sour. It is made using a porridge made out of oats, toasted spelt and malted wheatgrain. This goes into the dough and makes it moist and delicious.

I Said Bread bakery
Ros Ayres

Quality is clearly at the heart of what you do at the bakery. What else is important?

Being seasonal is important, and carefully choosing the flour we use.

The UK currently imports much of the wheat used in foods from Canada and a lot of wheat which is grown is 'commodity grain'. 95% is genetically the same crop, which relies on lots of input from fertilisers and is terrible for soil. We focus on wheats which are more interesting, better for soil and all grown UK – mainly Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

This sets us apart from other bakeries in Sheffield. I don't think any others in the city that I know of use these kinds of wheats currently. As the flour is 90% of what we use, it seems crazy to not be thinking about that. I want to know what it is in everything we make and to make sure we use really nice ingredients.

Can you tell the difference with the taste?

All the flour we use is stone milled, rather than commercially roller milled. So when you look at a bag of supermarket flour it is bright white. Our flour is still quite brown, as the parts of the grains which are usually sifted out are retained because the milling process is gentler on it. This 40% is the most nutritious and it means farmers are not losing out as normally it is turned into animal feed.

There are a lot of things wrong with the food system. If people grow commodity wheat the price for that is dictated by world markets, so even if you think it is a very good year and the crop should be worth more, you will not get it as the price is dictated by international markets. Whereas the guys we work with just sell between themselves, they can set the price and it is fairer for the growers.

This means you have a connection with the grower too. Sometimes I go to Nottingham to collect the flour or they drop it off. We sit and chat and I know the product. I am not just ordering off a website. I think there can be such a disconnect between people who grow grain, the millers and the bakers.

I'm impressed how much you have achieved in a short period of time. It feels like you have been here for years, not months.

It is nice to hear things like that as some days you can get home after a difficult day and think, did we make the right decision? But there will always be those days.

We have just got a new baker and we will see how things go as we may extend our opening hours. It is a case of working out the balance between prep, the shop opening hours and getting some time off. At the moment we are open 9am-4pm Thursday and Friday and 9am-3pm on Saturday. There’s other opportunities we are looking at too. For example, using the space on days we are not working for community activities or workshops.

We will see what happens next. Sheffield feels a very positive city in a different way to London. People seem genuinely interested in seeing their area develop and striking up relationships with people who work in these places. These little interactions really matter to us.

Learn more

I Said Bread, 57 Rushdale Road, S8 9QA.

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