Cookery school re-opening plan

Closing down our cookery school last April was like amputating half of Loaf, and not just financially. Teaching bread making and cookery skills is a fundamental part of what we do here so to lose that was a really big deal.

Because of its importance we’ve been reluctant to bring it back piecemeal. We’re proud of how we run the school and realised that teaching in a Covid-safe way would not allow us to reach the standards we demand of ourselves.

Now, with vaccination levels increasing and restrictions lifted we’re ready to plan for re-opening.

Here are the headlines.

The full cookery school, with all classes, will be running from January 2022.

These classes will be on sale from late October 2021.

All vouchers that expired, or were purchased, during the pandemic will be reissued and remain valid through to 2023.

To prepare for the re-opening we will be running a number of smaller-capacity bread classes in the autumn. These will be initially offered directly to those who have graciously and patiently held on to their tickets from last spring, and then opened up to others should there be spaces. We won’t be taking reservations – please watch the weekly newsletter for announcements.

You probably have questions as to why we’re doing it this way. Maybe we can answer them here…

Why not fully re-open sooner?

Having shut down the school so completely it’s going to take a while to get things back online, from deep-cleaning to equipment maintenance. We also need to transition our brains from bakery mode back into teaching mode.

While we want to think positively, we are still in a pandemic. The situation could change and we could find ourselves in another lockdown this autumn. If so, we don’t want to invest time and effort only to cancel everything.

Until the school is running smoothly again our only income is the bakery. As government furlough support is phased out we need to maintain our cashflow, which slows down other activities.

Why January?

The run-up to Christmas is an important season in the bakery and we usually reduce classes to concentrate on the shop. After a tough year it’s more important that ever we focus on this period.

Why only bread courses this autumn?

The bread courses are taught by Loaf staff. Not having to hire external tutors means we can avoid a significant loss when running them safely in smaller groups.

Will you be offering any new classes?

Our current plan is to offer the same classes as pre-pandemic, as listed on the website, though we will be refreshing them from top to bottom. So if you bought a voucher expecting a specific class, you should be able to do it by next spring. We do have big plans for the cookery school in 2023 so watch this space!

2022 is a bit too long a wait. Can I get a refund on my voucher?

Of course. Please email us your details and we’ll sort it out right away.

Massive caveat!

A lot can happen in the next six months. We are being cautiously optimistic but if we need to change any of the above, we’ll communicate it via the newsletter and on this website.

Loaf customers donate £3750 to B30 Food Bank

When the pandemic hit and lockdown was ordered, we at Loaf were very aware that, as a workers co-operative, we have a responsibility to our community as much as ourselves. Once we had ensured our business could ride out lockdown we looked into ways we could support those groups and organisations working to combat food poverty.

The simplest solution was to proactively bake more bread, and Loaf’s bakers volunteered their time to run a special bake shift on Mondays. Over lockdown we supplied bread to B30 Food Bank, BrumTogether, Birmingham Solidarity Kitchen, the Spearhead Trust, and the primary schools in our community who were helping feed families in need.

Given we couldn’t be sure how the pandemic would affect Loaf’s income, we placed a donation button on our online shop, inviting our customers to help. The idea being we provide the labour and they cover the cost of flour and electricity for that shift.

Between May and August we distributed roughly 1,500 loaves to food poverty groups in Birmingham. But we also raised far more money than we needed, leaving a surplus of £3,750. We contacted the B30 Food Bank for advice on what to do with this money and they suggested a cash donation. Their costs have soared this year and a lump sum would really help.

As demand has lessened, Loaf have paused the volunteer bakes for now, though we still donate any unsold bread to the Food Bank. Food poverty remains something we want to help combat and we are actively looking for long-term ways to do so. Please get in touch with if we can work with you.  

Bakery shop collections and deliveries from June 18th

As the country cautiously pokes it toe into the concept of a post-lockdown reality, with people returning to work and school, and with other shops reopening, we’re changing a few things at Loaf.

Extended opening hours!

Over the last couple of weeks requests for deliveries have reduced, and customers who have returned to work have told us they have trouble collecting during the day. We’re responding to this as follows.

We’re ceasing deliveries on Thursday and Fridays. This will enable us to make more products, reintroduce lunches, and open for longer hours.

From next week (Thurs 18th) we will be open from 12-6pm Thursday and Friday and 8.15-12pm on Saturday, giving you more time to collect your bread.

Because people are still shielding, we will keep offering free Saturday morning deliveries within a mile radius of Loaf for those unable to get to the shop. 

Please continue to place your bread orders online for collection. This means you can come at any time, avoiding a long queue at opening. Ordering through the online shop re-opens every Saturday afternoon and is the best way to secure your weekly bread. 

Lunches are back!

With more people back on Stirchley high street we’re being asked for lunches again. And so lunches we will provide!  

  • Sausage and veggie rolls – Thur-Sat from opening.
  • Tarka daal curry – Thursday from 12pm.
  • Pizza – Fridays from 12pm.

 Lunches are only available from the shop and are not available for pre-order or delivery.

Croissants every day!

We’re bringing back weekday pastries so we can offer croissants on Thursday and Friday as well as Saturday.

Bread donations raise £2,500!

Last month we added a donation button to our online shop. So far you have donated £2,500 towards us supplying food banks, schools and other local organisations with bread to alleviate food poverty. This is amazing and beyond our expectations. We will be working out our costs soon, so we can donate any surplus to where it’s needed. And we intend to continue running this programme for the foreseeable future. Thank you!

If you’re looking for more practical ways to help those in need of food during this crisis we can recommend contacting the Active Wellbeing Society who have successfully rejigged their organisation into a massive food collection and distribution network. They always need volunteers, especially for deliveries.

Thanks for your continued support and custom. We hope you are safe and well in this difficult time.

Loaf pre-orders and delivery for the Coronavirus era

In these unprecedented times, Loaf is having to reassess how we operate – just like everyone else. At the beginning of March we made the decision to shut down our cookery school, postponing all classes until we are on the other side of this, which could be anything up to a year. This is an important part of our business and to some extent it subsidises the bakery. Baking like we do is labour intensive and, compared to mass-produced bread, margins are low.

It goes without saying that keeping our team in work (we employ nine people) now and beyond COVID-19 is a major priority so we have had to do some number crunching of different scenarios to find the best options. We are also considering the safety of staff and their families, the safety of our customers and our duty to society as a whole. There is a lot to weigh up.

On the one hand we are very proud of the bread we provide and think a high quality staple food should remain available in a time like this. On the other hand, we attract queues of people and despite doing our best to encourage social distancing and putting in place all sorts of new measures in how we serve you, we have been feeling uncomfortable about the number of people stretching down the high street over the last weeks.

This is the plan we have come up with after much discussion of all the competing priorities.

We are encouraging you to place orders in advance so they can be delivered to your house or collected quickly from our door.

This is our new online shop.

We will be open Thursday 12-3pm, Friday 12-3pm and Saturday, 8.15-11am for collections and purchases. We’re doing bread, buns, brownies and blondies. No lunches at the moment.

Deliveries will also take place on Thursdays from 12-6pm , Fridays 12-6pm and Saturday morning, so please check the correct delivery day on your order.

We are delivering on foot/by bike so the area we can reach is limited. Please check this map to see if you are in our delivery area.

We are aiming to move towards collection and delivery only but for this week we will have a very limited amount of bread on sale in the shop.

If you have a regular order with us, please place it each week. We really value all our wonderful regular customers but we need your help to get this new system going to please don’t be offended that we are asking you to start afresh.

We won’t be selling flour for the moment – we need to ensure we have a solid supply – but when we can we will make it available. This is the perfect time for you to bake bread after all!

We have had many kind offers of help but feel that we can’t accept volunteers at this time, but if we can arrange to drop a couple of orders with you to distribute to your neighbours, we’ll try and make that work. If you live further afield, please arrange a collection instead.

We will be continually assessing what we do and making changes as necessary. We ask you to bear with us if we make mistakes, no doubt we will, this is all a bit rushed.

We have yet to find a way to offer bread to the most vulnerable in our community, so if you know a way we can safely do this, please point us in the right direction. Similarly, if you are a health worker and can see a way we might be able to help you out, please be in touch.

Coronavirus and Loaf

Updated: 17th July 2020

We want our customers to know we are taking the coronavirus outbreak seriously and to let you know the procedures we have put in place for the foreseeable future.

Visiting the Shop

If you are feeling unwell, or believe you could be at risk of carrying coronavirus, please do not visit us at this time.

We rearranged the shop, moving the counter to the door and serving one customer in at a time. The counter and other areas of customer contact are disinfected regularly.

We will be encouraging you all to keep your distance from each other in the queue,and whilst being served, the advice is a two metre gap.

We ask that customers pay by contactless card where possible. We will of course still accept cash if that’s all you have. We will change gloves / wash hands after handling any cash.

We already maintain a high standard of hygiene in our bakery and shop and are confident our procedures match those recommended for coronavirus. We will continually review these.

We are keeping the webshop open for people to preorder for swift collection, but we are actively baking more in order to have products available to purchase in our actual shop.

Staffing Loaf

In the event of a member of staff needing to self-isolate they will be paid their normal wage. There is no need for them to come in. We have a plan in place for how to manage if someone were to come down with symptoms while at work.

We are open 4 days a week, as we are taking advantage of the Furlough system and have fewer members of staff working together currently.

Cookery School Classes

Following government instruction all classes are cancelled for the forseeable future. We have been in touch with anyone who has bookings and voucher dates will be extended. We are still unsure of when or how we will safely reopen the Cookery School.

What else are we doing?

We will work with other local co-operatives so we can support each other in challenging circumstances and still keep you supplied with bread.

We have a donation option on the website where we are baking for local Schools, and foodbanks. We also donate any leftover loaves from our shop.

If you have any questions please get in touch.

Christmas is Coming!!!!!!

Doesn’t it feel like Christmas? Yes it feels like Christmas! We started preparing in October when we made our annual batch of mincemeat. It’s a delicious mix using local apples, beer from Attic Brewery and Cufuffle marmalade. We can’t wait for you to try it!

Here are our opening hours and order deadlines for 2019’s festive season.

We’ll be doing our usual range of breads (plus on the fly specials at the bakers’ whims), mince pies from 29th Nov, mince meat macarons from the week commencing 14th December and stollen on 21st, 23rd and 24th December. From 10th December we will have festive themed pizza available every lunchtime.

We are taking orders up until Thursday 19th December but we will be baking above and beyond what’s ordered so if you miss the deadline, or can’t decide what you want in advance, don’t worry, there will be plenty available on the shop shelves.

To place an order, email; we will confirm all orders by email. Alternatively you can place an order in the shop during our opening hours.

Our Christmas week opening hours are:

As normal until 14th December
Tuesday 17th December – CLOSED
Wednesday 18th December – 12-6.30pm
Thursday 19th December – 12-6.30pm
Friday 20th December – 12-6.30pm
Saturday 21st December – 8.15am-1pm
Sunday 22nd December – CLOSED
Monday 23rd December – 12-6.30pm
Tuesday 24th December – 8am-12pm
Wednesday 25th December – CLOSED  until…
Tuesday 7th January – 12-6.30pm and business as usual onwards!

Cookery School Dates

All our course until the end of the year are on our website using the handy Cookery School button.

We will be adding more dates for the new year next month….just in time for Shhhhhh Christmas presents. Speaking of which we also do Gift Vouchers for such an occasion!

Bread Courses

Our flagship Back to Basics class with Martha and Gordon is running fortnightly and Simply Sourdough, reworked from scratch by sourdough experts Rachel and Phil, gets regular from November.

But it’s not all loaves. Neil’s Viennoiserie class and Lap’s Macarons satisfy the sweet tooth while Phil will get you making fresh pasta by hand.

East Asian Cookery

Long-time Loaf collaborator Lap-Fai Lee demystifies Asian cuisine with delicious recipes you can do at home. These evening classes are enlightening, fun and delicious!

Indian Cuisine

Haseen from Pop up Dosa runs two evening classes at Loaf showing you how to make delicious Thaali and Dosa, and then eating it!


Our Masterclasses bring you back in touch with your food understanding where it comes from and how to prepare it. Seafood with Lap-Fai Lee will take the fear out of fishmongers, while Butchery, in collaboration with Rossiters of Bournville, will work through almost every part of the a pig.

Peels are back in stock again!

A peel is a wooden board with a handle used to quickly and safely take bread out of the oven. It’s effectively a large spatula, as demonstrated by Neil in this video:

Our new supplier of peels is Dale Hipkiss, a local artist and woodworker, who hand-makes them in his studio in Stirchley. You may know Dale from Artefact, where he works, and as part of the duo Hipkiss and Graney

The peels have been tested and approved by our bakers and are now on sale for £18 each. If you’re struggling to get your sourdough off the stone, come in and buy one!



TUESDAY 18th -Closed

WEDNESDAY 19th – 12-6.30 pm

THURSDAY 20th – 12-6.30pm

FRIDAY 21st – 12-6.30pm

SATURDAY 22nd– 8.15-1pm

MONDAY 24th – 8am-12pm






Upcoming closure!

Next Tuesday, 27th November, Loaf will be closed all day. This is so our team can attend a Real Bread Campaign event in London. We’ll be back open again as normal on Wednesday the 28th at 12 noon. Sorry for any inconvenience and thanks for your understanding!

The Baker’s adventures in Wales.

Many of you ask how Tom and Jane, who founded Loaf from their home in Stirchley back in 2009, are getting on these days. Tom will be back at Loaf on Saturday 17th November to teach Simply Sourdough (there are places available, book here) and as you’ll see if you read on we’re not sure how regularly we’ll be hosting Tom’s courses in future as he and Jane’s new ventures in Wales are very exciting!

Jane on the Machynlleth Market stall.

After having their son Reuben in 2016 and Tom taking an extended period of parental leave, they headed off in a campervan, visiting bakeries and permaculture projects across Europe and searching for the right place to start the next chapter in their lives.

Machynlleth in mid-west-Wales is that place! They moved in April this year and started a new ‘micro-homestead and family bakery’ called Rye & Roses or Rhyg a Rhosod in Welsh. They sell their bread at Machynlleth’s amazing weekly market – the biggest street market in Wales. Tom bakes purely sourdough from Loaf’s original sourdough starters, with a focus on whole-grain loaves from non-commodity grain milled by water power at Felin Ganol just down the coast.

Award winners already!

They’ve benefited hugely from taking over their spot on Machynlleth market from Mair’s Bakehouse who had been selling wood-fired sourdough bread there for the past 9 years, and had decided to retire this year and kindly endorse Tom and Jane’s new enterprise. They’ve also hooked up with another bakery, Andy’s Bread in Llanidloes, and formed the ‘Mountain Road Bread Collective’ and sell their bread together at the market and other events.

Tom makes everything by hand (no mixer!) just like the early days of Loaf, and currently bakes in a semi-commercial ‘Rofco’ oven in the conservatory. They’re hoping to be fully off-grid with the bakery in 2019 and put a wood-fired oven in a purpose-built bakehouse in the garden.

Perhaps most exciting of all is their forays into farming. They have just planted up a fifth of an acre on a local farm with an organic population of winter wheat, and they’ve agreed with another local organic farm to rent an acre for grain growing over the next few seasons. And Jane has enrolled on an innovative horticultural training course called ‘Pathways to Farming’. Exciting times ahead! Follow their progress on Instagram and twitter (@ryeandroses), Facebook
(, and at

Farmer Bakers!

We’re looking for new local suppliers

We’ve always done well with a number of local producers and suppliers, from Cuffufle‘s jams and chutneys to Pip’s hot sauces, and we’re now actively looking for more for the bakery shop 

We have three broad criteria:

  • Local businesses. Stirchley is the gold standard, of course! But West Midlands based in great. 
  • Bread-related. We sell bread and bread-making equipment, so we’re looking for products that complement. Spreads and sauces are obvious winners and coffee always sells well. What else might people who are buying lovely bread also need?
  • Stuff we can use. One of the founding principles of Loaf is you can do what we do with the tools and ingredients we use. Everything we sell in the shop is or could be used in the bakery, cookery school or for preparing lunches. Usually we source this from Suma wholesale, but it’s be lovely to get it locally. 

Beyond that, products should obviously be packaged professionally for retail and according to food hygiene standards. They should ideally have a long shelf life, though we are open to selling perishable items if it’s worth it. 

Terms are figured out to mutual benefit, so if you’re producing something that fits some, if not all, of our criteria, please get in touch with Pete at

We’re also going to be actively looking at places like Stirchley Community Market and always welcome tips from our customers. What would you like us to sell? 

Coming up at Loaf – a Pop Up with Lap-Fai Lee and our closed week

Here’s what you can look forward to over the next couple of weeks at Loaf. First up, next week Lap-fai Lee is back in the kitchen, bringing you our #TEAMRICE pop up on Thursday 23rd August. Doors open at 6.30pm and it’s first come, first served. It’s eat in or take away and we’ll do our best to throw a good queue party for you all. Here is the menu – Kerry’s final design before she finished at the end of July, featuring Molly’s illustrations.

The following week, Loaf will be closed for annual maintenance from 28th – 31st August. Don’t worry, we’ll make plenty of bread on the Saturdays  so you can stock up! We will be in the building doing work but don’t be fooled, we won’t be baking. Instead we’ll be tidying, sorting, organising, painting and all the other things on our list of odd jobs.

In the cookery school, August courses are full but there are spaces on several dates in September, including:

Dosa on Tuesday 4th or Thaali on Tuesday 25th both with Haseen from Kings Heath’s Pop Up Dosa.

You can join our Martha for Bread: Back to Basics on Thursday 13th.

Loaf founder Tom Baker is back in town delivering a Sourdough course on Saturday 15th.

Phil will be teaching our ever popular Handmade Pasta course on Tuesday 18th and he’s about to spend a week holidaying in Italy so we’re expecting fresh inspiration when he returns.

Enjoy the rest of the warm weather everyone, see you at #TEAMRICE!




What’s on at Loaf this week?

Hello! Here is the lunch menu for the week ahead:

Tuesday: Tarka daal with sourdough (be)
Wednesday: Roast squash, caramelised onion and blue cheese sourdough pizza (V)//Squash, lentil and walnut salad with focaccia (Be)
Thursday: Chlodnik (cold beetroot soup) or borscht (depending on the weather) with sourdough (V)
Friday: Salt beef on challah with mustard and pickles//Sri Lankan carrot and coconut curry with sourdough
Saturday: Salt beef on challah with mustard and pickles//Veggie sandwich on brioche roll

We had another lovely breakfast and bike ride with our friends at Birmingham Bike Foundry this sunny Sunday just gone – the next one will be on the 9th September. The rest of the week is quieter for us – no courses until next week when we have the following – still spaces on Thai and Sweet Breads and Viennoiserie, follow the links to book your place!

Wednesday 15th – Thai Cookery with Lap-fai Lee, one place available.
Thursday 15th – Bread: Back to Basics with Rob, fully booked.
Saturday 18th – Sweet Breads & Viennoiserie with Rob, five places available.

Today is Stirchley Community Market day, we won’t be there this time but there are loads of lovely stalls to be found from 4-8pm at Stirchley Baths.

#thebreadfastclub getting hot this morning on another great ride

A post shared by Worker Co-op // Bike Shop (@birminghambikefoundry) on

August in the Cookery School


We’re well into the summer holidays now and August is just around the corner. August is always a time when Loaf slows down in the bakery, we have less courses and we take some time to reflect on how the year is going.

You may have seen our last post; we’re taking a week off at the end of August. We will be closed Tuesday 28th August until Friday 31st Aug, opening up as normal on Saturday 1st September and for the Thaali course on Tuesday 28th August.  We’re hoping to spend the time having a bit of a rest and all being well, giving the place a lick of paint – do you have any local recommendations for painters and decorators?

We have a handful of courses taking place and all of the following have availability – it would be wonderful if you’d like to join us on the and learn skills for life.

We’ll be making Som Tam Thai (spicy papaya salad), Nam Pla Ra (fermented fish relish with fresh vegetables), Pla Tort (deep fried grouper with Nam Jim sauce), Massaman beef curry and Yum Makeua Yao (smoky aubergine salad with egg).

Learn the art of dough lamination and creating classic sweet treats such as brioche, chelsea buns, cinnamon buns, and hot cross buns. You’ll also be turning your laminated dough into four classic viennoiserie – croissants, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisin, and danish pastries.

Learn how to make alkali noodles from scratch and use them in two classic Asian noodle dishes; Chinese dandanmian and Japanese ramen. Dandanmian is a Sichuanese street-food staple, quick and easy to prepare. Tonkotsu ramen is the slow simmered pork bone broth originating in the south of Japan and is now beloved globally. We’ll make all the usual accompaniments, the braised pork belly, marinated egg and black garlic oil.

Thaali is a meal made up of a selection of vegetarian dishes served on a platter. In Kerala it is known as Sadhya (banquet), traditionally served on a banana leaf, often in large quantities; for weddings and other special festivals and celebrations. Typical dishes include rice, daal, saambar, vegetable stir fries, papad, curd (yoghurt), and chutney or pickle.

The photo is Lap teaching on our Bao course, photo by Jack Spicer Adams.