Lucy Tidd, Baker at Breid, talks to us about what makes the bakery a great place to work, her love of black forest brownies, and the secret to becoming a star baker.
On a Saturday afternoon, the bakers at Breid Bakery are busy. There is a queue to get into the shop. Once inside the shop, the bakery smells delicious and the open layout means you can see through to the bakers working hard on the goods.
Lucy Tidd, 22, Baker at Breid, is at the end of her shift that afternoon. At the end of a 10 hour shift, she’s still hard at work
, rolling dough onto a tray and dashing about.
Lucy goes to change out of her flour-covered apron. The bakers are all wearing short sleeved t-shirts under their aprons. It’s clear why, as the heat of the ovens in the kitchen would quickly bring a sweat to your brow if you have more layers on. The machinery is also quite loud, making the bakery far from the ideal spot for a chat.
Lucy began her shift at 6am, as she does everyday that she works. The early start and long shift in the warm bakery would probably tire out most people, but Lucy is still full of energy on the walk to St Matthew’s Churchyard.
Lucy began working at Breid in June 2020, but her passion for baking dates back long before that. She recalls baking with her grandma as a child.
‘I would bake with my Nanny Wendy,’ she says, ‘My favourite were the jam tarts. We used to do a lot of sugarcraft. We used to make little roses out of fondant sugarpaste.’
Lucy’s Nanny Wendy went to the National Bakery School in the 1960s. Over fifty years later Lucy followed in her grandma’s footsteps by going to the National Bakery School herself and graduated with a degree in Bakery Technology.
Towards the end of her course, Lucy saw the advert for a Senior Baker at Breid. She was from Bromley, South London, and hadn’t heard of Breid. She also didn’t consider herself a “senior” baker. Although Lucy had been working in a bakery in Borough Market; she was fresh out of her course (in fact she hadn’t even got her grades yet) and she didn’t have experience in the kind of mass bread production that Breid specialise in.
But Lucy searched Breid online, and even happened upon boss Miller’s Roman Road LDN interview. She emailed Miller with her qualifications and went for a trial shift. Lucy was obviously a hit, and she started at Breid the day after she handed in her dissertation.
Despite being snapped up by Breid Bakery right after her course, Lucy wasn’t always certain she would pursue this path. During school, she didn’t know what she wanted to do afterwards.
‘In sixth form, they started talking about uni and I just wanted to do something that I enjoyed,’ she explains, ‘Baking was just something I really loved doing. In school, all my friends would ask me for a birthday cake. And I’d be turning up to house parties with something I had baked.’
Lucy’s enthusiasm for baking is obvious, as well as the high-standards she sets for herself. She talks about her typical day at Breid, smiling as she describes how she and her co-workers have an unspoken competition to shape the bread quickly.
‘We might not even say out-loud that it’s a competition… it’s almost a competition with myself,’ she says, laughing.
Lucy lived in Bromley until moving a few months ago to Hackney. In the winter months, she would get up at 4am to cycle in the dark for miles across London to Bethnal Green.
Lucy clearly enjoys her work at Breid. She especially likes the connection with the customers, who she has gotten to know over the last year. Bried’s open layout means you can pop into the shop on a Saturday or during the week and see Lucy and her colleagues working away.
‘The team at Breid is so lovely. It’s a relaxed environment where we all get on so well and help each other out,’ Lucy says, ‘It’s nice that the customers can see us working. And we can see the customers. You get to see where the product you make is going and people give you feedback right there and then. Whereas if you work in a big commercial bakery you don’t get that interaction.’
Breid doesn’t just do bread, and when asked what her favourite thing to eat from the shop is, Lucy answers without hesitation.
‘The black forest brownie,’ she says, ‘I absolutely love it.’
The enthusiastic way Lucy describes the brownie, which contains a fruity chia jam and black cherries, makes it sound like a must next time you pass by the bakery.
Being a baker brings long hours and early mornings, but Lucy remains as passionate about baking outside of work as well as during.
‘I love baking at home, you get to make the product from start to finish,’ she says, ‘And it’s fun to experiment.’
The 22-year-old baker runs her own bakery Instagram account. She has ambitions to some day travel internationally and learn traditional baking methods, before going on to pass on the art of baking to others through teaching.
During lockdown many of us took up baking, with varying degrees of success. Lucy confides that even a professional baker like herself has had to throw out a few sourdough starters. She says that the key to a great baker is, in one word, perseverance.
‘Learn from your mistakes and put it into action next time,’ she advises, ‘Just keep going with it.’
Lucy, full of positivity and energy, has clearly taken her own advice.
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