S o, how did it all start?
Flour Station began life baking in Jamie Oliver’s Old Street restaurant Fifteen. From there we went on to trade in Borough Market,working incredibly hard to make our breads available to more and more Londoners through stalls and our wholesale business.
And how did you personally get involved?
I moved to Flour Station from La Fromagerie (based in Highbury) nearly five years ago now. At that stage I was the Markets Manager and since then I’ve covered pretty much every other role we have. I’ve always worked in food; that’s what I love more than anything else.
There’s no longer a Jamie Oliver connection, then?
We’re not now a Jamie Oliver company but we stay forever grateful to the team there for helping us to make us what we are today.
We’re guessing the main bakery HQ isn’t in Camden.
No, it’s in Hendon, north London. We bake there every single day of the year for our wholesale customers. We’re also baking daily in Camden as we like everything to be as fresh as possible when our customers walk through the door. Our team arrive very early in the morning to start getting everything prepped.
The secret is there are only three ingredients – flour, water and salt. Instead of commercial yeast we use a starter, which is a simply mixture of these three ingredients. This mixture attracts natural yeasts from the air and naturally ferments. Each day we take some of this starter and use it as the rising agent for the dough. We replace what we’ve taken by “feeding” the starter with more water and flour. Over time, each different starter will develop its own specific flavours depending on its age and its environment. After we’ve mixed the dough for our bread we leave it to rest for up to 24 hours. The process is much slower than if we were to use commercial yeast but it gives the bread the time to develop a fantastic flavour and texture that you just can’t get any other way. Depending on the size of the bread we bake it anywhere from half an hour to an hour.
We’re slightly obsessed with the seeded sourdough.
How do you make the bread so tasty? It all comes down to the method above but it’s also thanks to two simple things, quality and time. We use great ingredients and we don’t rush the process. As long as those two things are covered, you can’t go wrong. The Borough Seeded is also rolled in six super seeds before being baked. Those toasted seeds make it even more delicious.
Having sold at farmers’ markets for the last 12 years, we’ve met some amazing other producers along the way. We’ve tried to give a touch of this in the café so we’re also selling products that work as a lovely complement to our breads – cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, charcuterie from Cannon & Cannon, jams from England Preserves and coffee from Electric Coffee, to name a few. All of these guys are at the very top of their game.
Congrats on the booze license in Camden. What happens now?
We’ve teamed up with Borough Wines and Toast Ale (check these guys out – they’re making beer our of leftover bread and it’s amazing) to provide our alcohol offering. We plan on opening until 9pm every Friday and Saturday. We’ll be serving cheese and charcuterie platters each evening in candlelight (each one with some special baked options) to enjoy. The café is beautiful in the evenings – so I hope everyone will enjoy it.