Simply Eat Friday! Empowered through baking

Share on

How baking can transform women’s lives! In this sample chapter from Simply Eat, Alice Williams and Rachel Stonehouse tell about Luminary Bakery’s amazing work in restoring lives, and share a unique, scrumptious recipe for home-baked bread!


Having fled a violent relationship, Nadia, nineteen, was living in a women’s refuge with her one-year-old baby. She had a temporary roof over her head, but almost nothing else. Nadia’s confidence was in pieces, and she didn’t know how she would ever start to build a life for herself and her daughter.

That’s when she met Luminary Bakery.

Here at Luminary, we were able to offer her a place on our training programme, designed to support the UK’s most disadvantaged women in reaching their potential. Nadia arrived at our bakery on the first day, very nervous, but open-minded to see what she could learn. She loved food, and she loved to bake, but hadn’t had the opportunity to do so in the past few years as she’d simply been surviving. Finally, at Luminary, she was able to take some time to invest in her own well-being and do something she really loved.

And Nadia isn’t the only one. For many women at Luminary Bakery, being able to spend time learning, creating and investing in their own future is a luxury. We teach baking skills, from basic tips like how to use measuring scales, to complex techniques such as baking Danish pastry. Every week the trainees not only go away with products they have created themselves from scratch, but they’ve also spent a day with other women who have had similar experiences, sharing life together and being inspired that their future could look different.

We believe women are more than their past or current circumstances. They may have been exploited in the sex industry, be homeless, or have criminal convictions, but to us they are bakers. We don’t ask that they disclose anything about their past unless they want to, as we want them to have the chance to define themselves by something new.

In the Bible, there are many instances of people being given a new name to mark a new way of living; words have significance. Becoming ‘bakers’, discovering this new identity and finding a supportive community of other women can be completely transformative. Women who have previously been defined by their disadvantage are now instead defined by their potential.

We believe all people are created equal, with equal value, and we love demonstrating that by empowering women to believe in their own worth. Likewise, we believe that gaining employment has real significance, not only because being able to provide for yourself is liberating, but also because working can create a sense of purpose and identity.

Luminary was set up in response to God’s prompting to address the injustice we saw in our city. And it exists so that women can be empowered to change their circumstances, through the art and skill of baking. We’ve chosen to combine the therapeutic mindfulness of baking with professional career options in the hospitality industry, so that women like Nadia now have the chance to build a future for themselves and their families. The healing found in creating delicious food for others to enjoy gives these women identity, connects them back into community and gives them the chance to live life to the full.

Luminary Bakery’s Courgette, Cheddar and Black Pepper Soda Bread

Usually still warm from the oven, we sell loaves of our fresh soda bread from our neighbourhood café in Stoke Newington every day. Customers often comment they can smell it cooking from down the street! It’s a quick bread, meaning exactly that: with no kneading or proving time, it’s very quick to make. This bread is always best eaten on the day it’s made, but makes great toast too, especially when slathered in some salted butter.

Makes 1 large loaf


  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 250g plain white flour, plus a handful for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus a little for the top
  • 200g mature cheddar, grated 1 teaspoon English mustard 200g courgette, grated
  • 350g buttermilk (or you can make your own from 250g natural yogurt + 100g milk)


1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the two types of flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, black pepper and grated cheese.
3. Mix the English mustard and grated courgette into the buttermilk.
4. Make a ‘well’ in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk into it. Using a spoon, and then your hands, mix in the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms.
5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and tip the dough onto it.
6. Gently roll and fold the dough a couple of times to bring the mixture together, but do not knead.
7. Shape the dough into a ball. Using your hands, gently flatten the ball to about 1 inch thick and liberally dust with flour and black pepper.
8. Using a sharp knife, score the ball of dough with a deep cross, cutting 2/3 through and dividing it into quarters.
9. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 35-40 minutes. The loaf should be golden brown and oozing molten cheese once cooked.
10. Leave to cool on a wire rack. This is best eaten on the day of baking and makes great toast for days afterwards.

Check back next week for another tasty sample from Simply Eat!

Click here to learn more about the amazing work of Luminary Bakery and their delicious products.


  • Simply Eat

    Simply Eat Friday! Empowered through baking

    Have we forgotten that food and faith belong together?
    From Genesis to Revelation, God provides for His people to eat. Regardless of age or ethnicity, gender or class, we all know...