Famous Watlington breadmakers Kitty Tait and her dad Al have achieved national and global fame since first opening The Orange Bakery four years ago.
But life has just got even busier, because not only are they opening a new pop up cafe at Watlington Hill Farm Sanctuary in July, but their bakery in Watlington closes on Saturday to make way for a new community bakery, their new cookbook Breadsong is a big hit and Kitty’s Kits bread mixes are selling fast.
Little surprise then that the pair are both hard at work when we speak, ensuring that everyone comes to the bakery’s closing day this Saturday (June 24) wearing orange.
“THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE ASPECT IS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR so 5000 Kitty’s Kits have been sent to charities, food banks and prisons”
“The more orange the better, and the more money off for our customers. We just want everyone to pop in,” Al says.
The bakery is closing so that Kitty and Al can concentrate on the summer pop-up and Kitty’s Kits, but fear not, having been training up lots of local community bakers, Watlington should have its own community bakery very soon. Starting off as a weekly pop up enterprise in the Watlington Club, it aims to grow organically.
“We want people further afield to be able to access our bread and we hope Kitty’s Kits will enable more people to do so. We want to share the love because breadmaking is so good for your mental health,” Kitty, 19, explains.
But before that their pop up cafe is opening, something the duo have always wanted to try: “Watlington Hill Farm Sanctuary is such an amazing charity where lots of animals go to live out their last years peacefully. It’s like Noah’s Ark ,” Al explains.
So for three weeks from July 5 you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and tea there from 10am-4pm Wednesday-Sunday. Think overnight oats, granolas, breads and toasts with home-made conserves for breakfast, lunches of sandwiches, salads, dips and a daily special, all served with bread, and vegan cakes, buns and sandwiches for tea.
Drinks are being made from foraged fruit and herbs such as elderflower, rhubarb, mint and lime.
The sanctuary is plant-based so Al and Kitty are adapting their menu accordingly and all the bread served will be sourdough and vegan. As Al is well known for his cheese fetish, will this be restrictive then? “It’s like Sampson losing his hair,” he jokes. “No it’s quite exciting actually adapting our recipes and experimenting away.”
After that, it’s all systems go on Kitty’s Kits, the ready made ‘no knead’ bread mixes already being sold in independent shops and online (buy them here) which the duo hope will spread nationally.
5000 Kitty’s Kits have already been sent to charities, food banks and prisons around the country, so the social enterprise aspect is an important factor for the duo.
“We want to share the love”
It is well documented that Kitty and her dad started making bread together when Kitty’s mental health declined, and she is keen to pass on its therapeutic benefits.
“Bread making is a very empowering tool,” she says. “Making bread helps you keep calm. It doesn’t mean that depression and anxiety go away but it does bring you joy and can make you feel amazing.”
Not that The Orange Bakery’s popularity shows any signs of waning with their cookbook Breadsong being translated into several languages and selling worldwide. “It seems to have a life of its own. I’ve just been sent the South Korean version and we always get such lovely feedback,” Al says.
If the pop up cafe is a success they also hope to expand it next year. “Not a festival as such but certainly as more of an event. We just hope the weather holds,” Al says. “running a pop up cafe is quite a novelty for us, so we are really looking forward to it.
So will they miss the bakery? “I don’t think so because we are still teaching the community bakers as well as putting all our energy into Kitty’s Kits and that’s really exciting.”
The Orange Bakery pop up cafe runs from July 5 Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm.