The Baker on Ings Makes Marvellous Things
What’s at the bottom of your garden? A swing set? Fairies? A fence? Whatever it is, I’m betting it’s not a tiny bakery inside an old Ritchies coach house and the reason why every Thursday morning for the last 2 weeks the residents of Ings Ave St Clair have woken to the most delicious aroma. Following their noses, they roll out of bed – mavens without makeup, mummies in puffas pushing prams – and float on an inversion layer of cookie vapor towards number 4, where Pied Caker Victoria Madison has been up all night preparing piles of pies and pastries inside the Coach House Bakery.
“It really feels like she cares,” say customers. By 9am, the kids have been taken to school and there’s a queue out the door. Young and old, the people in your neighbourhood, the people that you see, when you’re walking down the street … but don’t necessarily talk to. Here they meet their neighbours while Victoria takes the time to discuss ingredients, bond over bread and butter pudding, vegetarian quiches and sausage rolls the size of draft excluders. By 1pm these towers of fresh baking will most likely be gone (fear not my little crust nibblers, there will be more at the OFM on Saturday). There are no leftovers, rather it’s all leftovers, in that Victoria uses spent grains from Emersons brewery for her oatcakes, Evansdale whey in her ricotta and in her oat cakes instead of milk and cream. With a culinary arts degree at Otago Polytechnic specialising in food waste, “My whole philosophy is based on waste so I get the ugly fruit, the ugly veges; my ‘compost cookies’ are made from the scraps from tarts. Homemade pies, cakes, Danishes, everything locally-sourced and seasonal (“meaning right now I go ‘leek and potato … erm…’”), Victoria’s big on preserves, “have jars and jars and jars, still using summer fruits and berries and asparagus from Palmerston.” The importance of knowing exactly where it came brought home for her last year when there was a hepatitis scare involving frozen fruit from China.
Victoria likes to keep it personal, a throwback to when neighbourhoods all had their own local shops. “We miss that, and the relationships we had with shopkeepers.” From the first week of trading she has drawn everyone from older people who live by themselves and don’t see the point in making a huge meal but want something healthy and homemade, to sleep-deprived young mums who couldn’t spell ‘cat’ let alone cook dinner. The Coach House Bakery might be tiny but it’s doing a star turn in reversing the tide of faceless supermarket chain shopping. Binder, baker, community maker. It’s nice. Which is the icing on the cake.
Photography by Sharron Bennett
Post submitted by Lisa Scott