GUARDIAN journalist turned baker Elisabeth Mahoney launched the first One Mile Bakery in Cardiff. Inspired by her mother’s home baking and cooking, the concept was a hyper-local delivery service within a mile of her Cardiff townhouse, delivering homemade bread, soup and jam to subscribers by bike. She ran baking classes in her micro-bakery kitchen, and taught over 2,100 people how to bake at home.
Now a new chapter begins with the launch of the second One Mile Bakery in Wales: One Mile Bakery Pontardawe. After years of dreaming about baking and teaching bread-making at home, Lesley and Mike Lloyd are now delivering artisan bread, soups and preserves to subscribers by electric trike within a mile of their micro-bakery and hosting inspirational baking classes around their kitchen table.
This is a marked change of direction for the couple. Lesley, 55, works at Swansea Prison as a wellbeing co-ordinator, while Mike, 61, has recently retired after 30 years working at Welsh National Opera as a stage technician. It is also a new start for them after a long house-hut to find their dream home and ideal premises for their One Mile Bakery in Alltwen, Pontardawe.
A small conservatory has proved ideal for Mike to convert into a micro-bakery area to house their professional oven and stand mixer, along with all the baking paraphernalia and endless 25kg sacks of flour. Mike can be seen out on their beautiful electric trike doing the deliveries to subscribers and the couple co-teach introductory baking skills in a really fun, informal atmosphere around their kitchen table.
Lesley, who grew up a few miles away in Swansea, is from a family of keen cooks and brilliant bakers. “My dad did a lot of cooking at home and introduced us to all sorts of foods and tastes – I was eating things like skate wings, periwinkles, and homemade soup with marrow bone from a young age. My mum made amazing Welsh cakes and quiches, which were always gone in a flash, and my aunty taught me to bake cakes. All the family went to her for their weddings and party cakes.”
This foodie start in life led Lesley to study catering at Swansea College for a City & Guilds qualification and, after adding a degree and PGCE to this and having two sons, she began working in public health as part of several healthy living programmes, working to improve people’s cooking and eating habits and tackling food poverty. Lesley produced a cookbook on basic cooking skills using familiar recipes – this was rolled out to the community and won a Food Standards Agency award.
The couple met 11 years ago, introduced by a mutual friend who knew they shared a love of motorbikes – not what you might expect from grandparents of four who love walking their beloved dog Rex by the river, and pottering about in their kitchen garden. They married in 2014, and their shared passions now might sound quieter – apart from Mike’s extensive and eclectic music collection – but they are enjoyed with the same energy, laughter, and love of being together.
“I really appreciate being at home after all the years of touring with WNO,” Mike says, “and Lesley’s always worked so hard. We love spending time together baking, and we adore hosting people in our new home. We are really excited about our new One Mile Bakery adventure and a floury new chapter in our lives.”
Their baking classes are truly hands-on – everyone gets their hands stuck into bowls of dough – and designed to feel like baking at a friend’s house. Classes include Introduction to Baking, Introduction to Sourdough, French Baking, Italian Baking, Breads of the World and – exclusive to One Mile Bakery Pontardawe, Mindful Baking. While the bread rises, Lesley and Mike serve a delicious seasonal two-course lunch with wine. Everyone gets all their baking to take home, with recipes and notes, plus the confidence to recreate the bakes at home. They teach baking at home so you know you will be able to bake like this in your home.
Pic. Stacy from San Diego [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]