In the middle of the night, while most of you are fast asleep, David Stacey and his team at Stacey’s Bakery in Ilkeston are busy baking hundreds of loaves of bread.
On a typical day more than 400 loaves, of which there are 13 varieties, are made at the South Street bakery, and that’s on a quieter day. That figure is around 1,000 at the weekend. Add to that the huge variety of cakes, pastries and sandwiches made from fresh, to be sold at its four shops, and you get some idea of how busy David and his staff are.
“There’s a lot to think about,’ he said, ’My dad always used to say it’s like spinning plates, if one falls, you’ve got to keep on top of it.”
David starts work at 3am and by 6am there are scones in one oven, bread in another, while cake loaves are in the proving machine; a process which can take up to 90 minutes, depending on the dough. All cakes, including eclairs and choux buns, are also made fresh, and all have to be ready for when the vans come to deliver them to the shops at 8am.
Around 2,000 items are distributed to the four Stacey’s shops (two in Ilkeston, one in Heanor, one in Eastwood) every day. When deciding how many products to send to each shop on any given day, David first checks the weather forecast.
He said: “What people buy depends on the weather. The Eastwood shop doesn’t seem to be affected by bad weather unless it’s windy - then people won’t come out because it’s on top of a hill.”
In a typical day twelve kilos of flour are used to make 500 gingerbread men, the best seller. To make the day’s wholemeal loaves, five stones worth of flour mix are used.
David, who works six days a week, has recently taken on three new staff, including 18-year-old Jack Hollingworth who works in the South Street bakery. He said: “I’m doing lots of different work that I never thought I’d be doing.”
David said: “A lot of bakeries have an oven man who just stands between the oven and the prover, but that’s pretty boring, everybody does different stuff here.”
There is an array of industrial ovens and machinery at the bakery. People would be surprised at just how big the space is behind the South Street shop. One of the ovens can bake 300 loaves of bread at the same time, including ‘oven bottom’ bread, which is a rare thing these days.
Giving an insight into the perfect loaf, David said: “The dough has to be ‘just right’, there is a fine line of ten minutes, too long and it will be over proved, too little and it will be under proved.”
A well-known name in Ilkeston and the surrounding towns, Stacey’s, a family business which started 100 years ago, also outsources its products. A café in Derby called Sweet Delights sell Stacey’s muffins, and George’s Tradition is also using their newly developed brioche buns for its restaurant franchise George’s Kitchen in Newcastle, Nottingham and Leeds, with up to 1,000 going out from Stacey’s every week. These delicious buttery brioche buns will be available to buy for Stacey's customers in their local shops very soon.
More information can be found at www.staceys-bakery.co.uk