Honesty Bakehouse are all about, well, honesty.
Run by Kate Taylor-Beale and Christine Sell, the bakehouse started off as a funded project in Huntly through local arts organisation, Deveron Projects.
Its first funded year allowed Kate and Christine to figure out whether there was an interest for an artisanal bakery in the community – which there was.
But what’s more interesting about Honesty Bakehouse is its ‘pay with honesty’ concept.
Instead of charging a set price for its products, customers are encouraged to pay what they wish for goods into the ‘honesty jar’.
For anyone bamboozled by this idea, no lies will be found at Honesty Bakehouse – honesty truly is the best policy and the system works well.
Now the business is standing on its own two feet, the honest ethos remains well intact and the bakehouse is going from strength to strength.
We caught up with Kate to find out more about the business.
Have you always been a lover of baking?
I’ve always been into cake baking. My dad is a baker and a chef so we were always baking when I was younger. I went to university in Edinburgh to study literature and history but always found myself cooking and getting involved in food projects. I worked in a kitchen in Norway after that. A friend from university had worked at a restaurant on an island in Norway, so I ended up helping out in the kitchen (I think my friend blagged me the job a little bit). I’ve always enjoyed cooking with my friends, but going to Norway was a funny experience because I’m a vegetarian and there was a lot of cooking steaks and fish which I definitely didn’t have much of a background in. But I’d say that I’ve learned most about baking through coming to work for Deveron Projects in Huntly. I’ve come up and learned a lot on the job.
What is it about baking that’s special for you?
What I love about my job is how it connects with all different aspects of food. We’re connected to the farmers through getting the grain locally here, we get to chat to all the customers and find out what they like to have with their bread and what sandwiches they enjoy. It kind of feels like being in the middle of the food world. But baking in particular, it’s kind of magic that you just put in this wet dough that doesn’t look that appetizing into the oven and it comes out as something totally delicious.
Why Honesty Bakehouse?
We called it Honesty Bakehouse because when lockdown first happened, we were working with a café called Honesty but then it unfortunately had to shut down. So, we converted an old cart into an Honesty shop – kind of inspired by when you pick up eggs in somebody’s yard by the pound or two – which would sit out in the street. I’d put bread in there after I’d baked it, lock up the shop, and people would pay what they felt for the bread by putting money through the door. This whole process made us think ‘oh, it actually works doing a bakery by honesty’.
Now, the bakery still runs in the same way, but we have an indoor shop so people can come in, help themselves to the bread and pay whatever they feel into the money pot or by bank transfer – just doing it by honesty. It’s been really cool to see that it works. I guess we do it this way because we can work out what we want to do as we go along.
Honest bread made with honest ingredients – tell us more about the ethos behind this?
We get our flour from a local farm in Insch. They grow it all organically, and what was quite cool was that Deveron Projects helped to fund this beautiful Austrian mill that the farmers could use to make much higher quality flour. We always use flour from them and all our other products we try to make sure are as local as possible and also organic. We also don’t put any artificial products in our bread. What people have said most about our bread is how good the flavour, taste and texture of it is, and all of that comes from the flour we get which is so freshly milled that it has such a stronger flavour to it. A lot of the bread you see in the supermarket has all these preservatives and additives that aren’t doing anyone any good.
What methods do you use when baking your products?
It’s a bit of a mix of methods. The breads that we make are mostly sourdough but we also do yeast cinnamon buns and pastries like croissants. People love croissants! I think people love French baking because it’s got such a romanticism to it. We do baguettes and focaccia too. But what’s also really nice is that there’s just two of us so we can be quite flexible.
We’ve actually got a very small kitchen. We have a mixer, which I didn’t have for the first six months so I was mixing everything by hand. Then we just have an industrial sized turbo fan oven because we don’t have the space or the means yet to have a proper deck oven. That would be the dream. At the moment, every day is a game to see how much we can fit in our small oven!
Would you say that there’s a camaraderie among local businesses in Huntly?
Yeah, I think so. At the beginning, because we were funded it was a little tricky. Huntly is a place where a lot of shops and small businesses have really struggled in the last few years. But on the whole, there is a lot of support and everyone buys from each other. There’s a real community spirit in Huntly.
What’s next for Honesty Bakehouse?
We’re taking things as they come at the moment. At the moment we’re doing a good amount for how big Huntly is. We started having volunteers in the bakehouse. We have two at the moment which is nice to have. I guess that the more people who get involved, the more ways the bakery can go. We’re quite open to where it may go in future. As long as there’s bread in Huntly that’ll be nice!