Can a bakery be sustainable? We speak to Anna Higham of Quince

New artisan bakehouse Quince Bakery is opening this Saturday, joining the growing band of London establishments selling top-quality baked goods. But Quince will be a little different, turning away from the classic viennoiserie in favour of a sustainable focus on recipes from the British Isles, using grains sourced as locally as possible – expect homemade Staffordshire oatcakes, yeasted buns and tattie scones.

The bakery will be run by Anna Higham,  an award-winning Scottish pastry chef and writer, who brings years of knowledge and skill. We can’t wait to visit, but first we caught up with Anna to find out how she intends to put sustainability at the heart of her business.

Can a bakery be sustainable? We speak to Anna Higham of Quince

Tell us why you decided to open Quince Bakery

A bakery has been my ‘next move’ ever since leaving Lyles and Flor in 2020. I got a little distracted writing a book and working at The River Cafe.

At UK Grain Lab last year (a bi-yearly conference for bakers, farmers, millers and flour enthusiasts in Nottingham) I attended a panel discussion on sustainable workplaces. The conversation was centred around how to take the same principles we were applying to sourcing and production and apply it to ourselves as workers.

I felt frustrated that the conversation made it sound impossible to set up a neighbourhood bakery without either incredibly cheap rent/live-in accommodation or taking huge investment on board and relinquishing control. I knew that I wanted to use Quince Bakery to show how to run a bakery business that makes financial sense, gives me a sustainable life and still adheres to the farming principles I subscribe to.

Anna Higham

What will your menu consist of?

Working to a sustainable model means our menu is created with culinary ambition but with practical constraints. To efficiently create large quantities of of bread, we’ll mix a single ‘country’ dough that we take batches from and add a porridge or more wholemeal to them to create different breads, rather than mixing three separate doughs.

Our sweet offering won’t feature any viennoiserie or laminated doughs. I strongly feel that the amount of machinery, space, energy and staff that they require would not be achievable in our bakery with a small team. Instead we’ll focus on British baking traditions: yeasted buns that we can produce lots of; hand-made pies or turnovers filled with seasonal fruit for sweet versions, or beautiful vegetables and meat for savoury. And I’m really excited to explore griddle cakes like Staffordshire oatcakes, tattie scones and bannocks.

The question we’ll consistently ask ourselves is how to create the most volume of product with the most integrity, in an achievable way.

We’ll focus on British baking traditions; yeasted buns that we can produce lots of; hand-made pies or turnovers filled with seasonal fruit for sweet versions, or beautiful vegetables and meat for savoury.

What was it like crowdfunding for your bakery?

Funding was a huge hurdle. I didn’t have access to lots of capital. I was determined not to release any equity in return for investment. It was crucial to keep the business within our financial control. Crowdfunding seemed the obvious answer. I didn’t want to ask too much of people as it’s such a tricky financial time all round so we found the lowest figure that made sense. I then set about writing an in-depth business plan to send out to family, friends and supportive customers.

I must say that, at the beginning, asking for money felt terrifying and incredibly vulnerable. But once we started, all the positive relationships built over the years came to the fore. I’ve been overwhelmed at times with people’s generosity and belief in us.

Money is definitely a difficult subject but what we’ve come to realise is that once you make yourself known, people want to be generous and kind. People offered rewards and experiences when they couldn’t offer money.  It really feels like all the years in hospitality and all the energy put into relationships have returned so much positivity and generosity.


Do you feel a sense of community among the UK’s specialist bakeries?
One of the things I think is so exciting in London specialist bakeries at the moment is that everyone is secure in their own style. We’re seeing bakers  revel in their unique creativity, making bakes that only they would think of or that they think are the most delicious rather than following trends.

I love that Toad or Eric’s make pastries I would never think of, using their own visual language. It’s really inspiring to be part of such a creative and dynamic group. It’s also wonderful to be at a point where we have established bakeries to seek advice from. Places like E5 Bakehouse or The Dusty Knuckle are at a scale I wouldn’t want to reach but they’re always generous towards other bakeries with their knowledge and skill.

Find Anna’s pissaladière scrolls and brioche tart recipes on our site, and pay Quince Bakery a visit from Saturday 17 February.

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