Friday, 22 February 2019

Teenage girl uses her loaf to set up bakery business

Teenage girl uses her loaf to set up bakery business

A TEENAGE girl has set up her own bakery business and is already selling 70 loaves of bread a week.

Kitty Tait, 14, started the Orange Bakery in her parents’ kitchen at their home in Gorwell, Watlington.

She runs the business with her father Alex and it has grown so rapidly that the pair have customers not only in town but also in nearby villages such as Cuxham, Ewelme, Britwell Salome and Chalgrove.

They also supply the Fat Fox pub and The Social bar and restaurant in Watlington and the Britwell Salome Farm Shop.

Their products include sourdough loaves and foccacia as well as sweet pastries.

Kitty, who used to attend Icknield Community College in Watlington but left last summer to be home-schooled, opened her first pop-up shop in High Street, Watlington on Saturday.

To advertise the shop she “yarn-bombed” the High Street, decorating it with 300 orange woollen poms-poms.

This worked as customers had to queue up outside and she had sold 100 loaves and 200 buns in less than half an hour after opening at 9am.

Kitty said: “I was delighted and and didn’t realise how much of a demand for bread there is in our town and the area.

“There’s nothing like our bread available. You have sourdough in shops but it might be stale or you have shop-bought which costs 90 pence but has 26 ingredients.

“People appreciate local produce because that is what society is moving towards at the moment.”

Kitty only began baking about six months ago but soon found it “therapeutic”. She said: “I found that I really liked it and it was all I wanted to do all day.

“My dad used to bake but just simple white loaves and I was never really interested in food then.”

The teenager began by using a Dutch oven and then the family’s Aga but this didn’t produce enough heat to get a good crust, so she spent several weeks going round to their neighbours Rick and Juliet Bennett to use their oven.

At first she made just three loaves a day for friends and family but then she and her father  began making sourdough after researching the method and perfecting their recipe.

Kitty said: “I thought ‘this is what I want to do, I want to bake more bread’.

“We started off with about 12 people having one or two loaves weekly. We only offered simple, non-sourdough, white loaves.”

As the number of customers grew she combined her earnings and her savings to buy her own oven in which she can bake 12 loaves at a time in 40 minutes.

Kitty said: “Watlington is a very close town so word of mouth spread quickly and we started getting calls, saying ‘my friend gets bread from you, do you have any sourdough?’ I started making it and it opened up this incredible market.

“We then had around 30 customers having a weekly loaf and we also started doing things like cinnamon buns and pastries and we were constantly educating ourselves.”

As word spread further afield, her customer base grew to 70 and she now has people on a waiting list.

Kitty said: “It was overwhelming because we never thought of it as an actual business.

“When we had 30 customers I would deliver the bread by bike. When we got to 70 we realised that it was impossible — we had customers in different places and we couldn’t find the time to deliver.

“Now we have a safety box by our back door where people can pick up their bread.

“We also only do sourdough now. We use only water, flour and salt and that’s it — there’s something honest about that.”

Kitty, who now sleeps in the kitchen, gets up at 5am to turn on the oven before being joined by her father when they begin baking.

The rest of the family comprises her mother Katie, sister Aggie, 18, and brother Albert, 16.

Kitty wants to expand further and when she’s older buy a van so she can sell her produce at markets.

“In the long-term I would like to be the best bread baker in the world,” she said. “I’ve got about 60 bread books and I read every single page and try to soak up all the knowledge because I’m fascinated by it.”

Mr Tait, a teacher, said: “Kitty has driven this. I’m very surprised at how quickly things have developed but hugely proud.

“We have been able to develop it at our own pace and people come to us rather than us going banging on doors.”

• Kitty will be opening her pop-up shop again in the High Street tomorrow (Saturday) from 9.30am to 10.30am and 1.30pm to 3pm.

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