Deerstones, an artisan micro bakery in Colne’s beautifully restored Victoria Arcade
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 May 2017
Mairead Mahon followed the delicious aroma of baked bread to Deerstones, an artisan bakery in Colne
Kelly Eardley has a degree in environmental science, so it’s something of a surprise to discover that she is the owner of Deerstones, an artisan micro bakery in Colne’s beautifully restored Victoria Arcade.
‘Baking bread is a type of science,’ says Kelly who, after her degree, trained as a professional baker. ‘Yeast is a mystery all on its own and anyway, I’m always experimenting with flavours, so maybe it’s not that surprising after all.’
Deerstones, named after a rocky outcrop close to Kelly’s Sabden home, usually has a queue of people waiting to sample her wares - many of them lured along the arcade by the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread.
The mouth-watering smells begin to fill the arcade at a very early hour, as Kelly begins baking at five in the morning. Using her oak work surface, she makes the dough using organic flour and baking it in a stone shelved oven.
‘I was very keen to have this type of oven,’ she said. ‘It works on almost the same principle as a pizza stone, making sure that the loaves have a lovely oven spring crust.’
When baking is finished, the oak surface becomes the shop counter. That’s when those who have been lured along by their noses finally get to make their choice. And there is a lot to choose from. As well as treats such as scones and flapjacks made with condensed milk, there is a great selection of breads including cheese and onion loaf, focaccia and that old favourite, crusty white. Every week, Kelly also makes a speciality bread. These could be anything from a turmeric loaf to Cornish seaweed. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they are all seasonal.
‘I’m a huge believer in that,’ said Kelly. ‘In fact, if you see me this May clad in my wellies, it’s more than likely I’ll have been looking for wild garlic .
‘I take care to only pick the leaves, never damaging the roots. I then turn the garlic into a creamy pesto before adding it to the dough. It’s delicious.
‘When the season finishes, it will be a potato and rosemary. It is a lot easier than seeking out wild garlic because I grow them on my allotment.’
In fact, the allotment society or, to be precise, its secretary, Betty, has been given a special honour in the bakery: the famous Deerstones sourdough starter is named after her.
‘To create it, the natural wild yeasts slowly produce a carbon dioxide and lactic acid giving it its instantly recognisable sour flavour.
Today, there is a growing trend to take speciality artisan breads along to stylish dinner parties and on Saturdays, many people travel from all over Lancashire to buy Kelly’s bread precisely for this purpose. If people are unsure about what to choose, Kelly is happy to advise. Some customers even bring in samples of cheese or recipes for soups and stews, so she can tell them what bread will make the perfect marriage.
‘I love it when that happens but, you know, Lancashire people love their bread,’ says Kelly. ‘As well as the traditional varieties, they really like trying new things, so it’s great to listen to their ideas.
‘One lady even brought me in a recipe book of breads that had belonged to her great grandmother and that has been absolutely fascinating. One recipe that wasn’t in it though was the one for my marmite and onion loaf. It really did divide opinion -people loved it or hated it. I loved it.’
An initiative which hasn’t split the field is Kelly’s Bread Club. Demand for her breads kept growing, especially at the weekends when people wanted something to treat themselves. So, inspired by veg box schemes, Kelly came up with a plan.
‘Customers subscribe to a bread box every week,’ she says. ‘It usually contains a surprise loaf although if they want something specific, I’m happy to provide that.
‘At the moment, it is really only available in the Colne and Sabden areas but there are plans in the pipeline to expand it.’
For those who want a hands-on experience, one Sunday each month, Deerstones is transformed into a bread making class. Kelly offers courses on everything from basics to specialities such as sourdough baking and continental breads through to seasonal things like Christmas baking - everyone loves making a cranberry wreath.
‘These are huge fun and what’s more, it doesn’t matter what level of experience you have,’ said Kelly. ‘We can only have a small number of people each time but you know it adds to the atmosphere. By the end of the day, we’re all friends but that’s bread for you.’
The only downside to Deerstones is that as everything sells out so quickly. There is rarely anything left for Kelly to bring home to her family but, as she firmly says, they’ve just had to get used to being disappointed because Kelly and her bakery are on the rise.