Spotlight: Seven Hills Bakery

February 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Features, Made Locally | Leave a comment
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bread

Specializing in sourdough and long-fermented artisan bread, Seven Hills Bakery’s menu makes for mouth-watering reading (Apricot and Hazelnut loafs, Mixed Seed Sourdough made with sunflower, sesame, poppy and millet, Linseed Sharrow with buttermilk…) and it’s not unusual to see people queuing outside their shop in Sharrow Vale road and at their stall when they pitch up at Sharrow Vale market.

I spoke to baker and co-founder of Seven Hills Bakery, Matina Mitchell, to find out the secret to making bread that the people of Sheffield are willing to queue for, and what 2013 holds for the bakery.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, pre-Seven Hills Bakery?

Matina: I worked in the NHS in Wales as a planner and for local authorities. However I have baked bread at home since I was a student and got more and more interested in it. Three months in Berlin in an organic bakery convinced me that I wanted to make bread professionally, but also underlined that there was a big difference between baking at home and for a market.

What was the inspiration behind Seven Hills Bakery?

Matina: I have wanted to open a bakery for several years but knew that I couldn’t do it alone. How to meet the right people to bake bread with and start a small business? I met Laura and John at the School of Artisan Food and we decided that we should set up together. We’d had an amazing experience as students selling Welbeck bread at Nether Edge Market and after some research decided that Sheffield was ready for a new artisan bakery! After a year John decided to move on to do other things, so Laura and I have been the two partners since last October.

I’ve seen people queuing outside your shop before – what’s the secret to baking bread that people are willing to queue for?

Matina: You’ll have to ask our customers! But we strive to produce consistently high quality bread and cakes with first class ingredients. Maybe the secret is to make what you like to eat yourself!

Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?

Matina: We read a lot of bread books and eat a lot of different artisan bakers’ breads! We take recipes but work on them ourselves and tweak things until we are happy with the taste and the consistency of the end product.

You make your bread using locally grown and milled flours, and much of your equipment was made my local tradesman. Why is it so important, that people support local businesses?

Matina: There is good evidence that money spent locally in locally based businesses revolves round the local economy more times than if the money is spent with a big multinational and therefore leaves the area. But there is also something very satisfying about having equipment that is made by people working in local firms. Tins and trays made by Invicta, moulding table made by Andrew Marsh. We currently use both the Yorkshire Organic Millers (YOM) based on the edge of the North York Moors and Shipton Mill (further away on the Severn estuary) for our organic flours. YOM produce stone ground flours from grain grown locally and we use the wholewheat in many of our loaves.

And finally, what are your plans for 2013?

Matina: We are hoping to extend our range of bread and cakes and start making pastries e.g croissants. We also got planning permission to open a cafe at the back of our shop in Sharrow Vale Road and we are working on getting that up and running in the next months.

You can find out more about Seven Hills Bakery at www.sevenhillsbakery.co.uk

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