The local bakery
She calls it the ‘Baker’s Table’, a long, rustic, scrubbed pine table running the length of her little bakery loaded with delights. Emma Powell opened The Baker’s House the day after the first national lockdown began in March 2020. Though an experienced baker, this was her first independent venture and she was, she says ‘very frightened’. The roads were empty, the shops closed and the visitors to this pretty market town, non-existent.
She needn’t have worried because the local residents soon discovered her. ‘I’ve had amazing support’ she says, ‘They have queued at the door all through the cold and wet of winter.’
That’s no surprise to anyone who has visited the Baker’s House and seen the table laden with a superb selection of baked goods. At the top end, displayed in an ancient wooden bread trough are organic white, wholemeal and rye loaves, grown, milled and baked in the National Park. Rustic loaves too, made with the ancient grains of spelt, emmer and einkhorn.
Lamination is the holy grail for bakers, the process in which the dough is folded upon itself to create the feathery layers you find in puff pastry. You’ll recognise it if you buy her sugary topped Eccles cakes with currents soaked in Earl Grey tea with a touch of lemon rind. Where other bakers buy-in their croissants frozen to bake off, Emma follows the whole tricky, laminating process, making her croissants and pain au raisin from scratch. All that layering, folding, turning, resting and rolling before spreading the dough with crème pâtissière and loading them with organic raisins. It’s labour intensive but for her customers, the flaky, buttery pastries are very much worth it.
Yorkshire butter, Yorkshire flour, Fairtrade and locally sourced ingredients are very much Emma’s thing, as is being seasonal and sustainable. Milk comes in returnable bottles from the Farmgate Farm shop in Easingwold, organic flour from Philip Trevelyan of Yorkshire Organic Millers down the road near lovely Appleton le Moors while honey is supplied by the bees of Ampleforth and coffee from Roost Coffee in Malton. It’s all part of The Baker’s House ethos, to use the best ingredients, organic and local where possible, which in turn supports other artisan producers. It’s a virtuous circle for what Emma calls her ‘eco-micro bakery’.
Equipment too is deliberately second hand or reclaimed except for the pastry roller, ‘I couldn’t afford for that to breakdown.’ It’s where she rolls out the pastry for the savoury flans and sweet tarts; lemon meringue or maybe raspberry frangipane, set out prettily on vintage glass cake stands.
Emma’s take on banana bread adds salted caramel to the mix. There are blousy meringues and sumptuous carrot cakes topped with a creamy frosting, cheesecakes, custard tarts, chocolate and ginger flapjacks, milk chocolate cookies and yeasted cinnamon buns generously layered with butter, sugar and cinnamon, rolled up and cut into spirals to be finished with a stream of icing.
‘A little neighbourhood bakery’ was Emma’s vision for The Baker’s House. ‘I just want the bakes to be the best I can possibly make them, using the best ingredients.’ This she has achieved and more, supported by a consistent and loyal clientele. With such a strong foundation of local customers, she’s flying, just wait until the visitors discover her.