“I have now attended two Virtuous Bread courses – one for Sourdough and then the Bread Angel Course. Both have lived up to every expectation. Jane was warm and welcoming and made us all feel immediately at ease. I learnt a huge amount on both courses without being maxed out by too much information. The course was a really good mix of practical, study, good fun and muscle building kneading! Jane is the Goddess of Bread and I am now so inspired I hope to join the ranks of the Bread Angels and start making my own small difference to UK bread. Virtuous Bread is virtuous in every sense and this is the best way to learn more about bread and how to make it.” – Lucie SteeleLucie Steele
I stumbled upon Virtuous Bread one rainy Saturday in March. Waiting for a delayed train and picking up a magazine in a cafe, I read
“If you’d said to me a year ago that I would be baking bread and selling it, I would have thought you were mad! But some how, this California girl living in the England, is selling bread!! Thanks to Jane Mason and her Virtuous Bread dream, she has changed my life and helping me make my dreams a reality. After taking the 3 day Bread Angels course, I couldn’t wait to start selling my bread. Each day after class I was so inspired to bake and sell! Bake and sell – Bake and Sell!
about the company’s ethos and ideals as they relate to bread and they struck a chord. I was in the process of setting up a business selling soup, and the way Jane spoke about bread – as a universal, shared, beloved, simple, natural, traditional, comforting thing that could do good – was exactly how I’d been thinking about soup.
So my arrival at the Virtuous Bread HQ in June, to take the Bread Angels course over three Saturdays, was a thing of pure chance, and undertaken despite some raised eyebrows from friends and obvious obstacles: I live in Cardiff; had only ever baked haphazardly and quite often resulting in loaves only good for knocking out intruders; and my foodie business had always been about soup.
I went for two things initially: to improve my bread-making (to give away with soup I was selling) and to learn more about running a small home-based food business. Each week the course combined new amazing steps in bread-making confidence with clear, practical and up-to-date information about the business side. The fact that you are learning both in Jane’s gorgeous flat – where she bakes in a domestic kitchen and sells bread locally – is such an inspiration, as is the fact that she demystifies bread-making with great humour and style.
But there’s so much more. You learn with other Bread Angels, and nothing quite builds angelic camaraderie like kneading together or your first attempt at shaping a loaf. Laughter is what I remember most on those Saturdays, and the “wow” moments when our loaves came out of the oven. After the course, when you’ve got your bread wings, there’s a real sense of connection as you follow each other’s progress and share photos of your latest baking triumph.
For me, though, it’s really about Jane as a teacher. I’ve rarely seen someone so intuitive with what people need as they learn a new skill: she picks up on where you are as a baker, and a would-be business person, in moments, and works with you from there. Her teaching style is also gloriously flexible and warm. I was horrendously delayed on my first trip from Wales, and missed 90 minutes of the first four-hour class. I arrived frazzled, stressed, and doubting the whole enterprise. Jane gave me a hug, told me I needed gin and made me one of the most welcome G&Ts ever.
I’ve been a bit delayed in launching my business since the course, but only because now there is no way bread is going to be a sideline. After a summer that felt a bit crazy at times – taking the 5.55am from Cardiff on a Saturday to go baking, especially as I’ve been back to do the excellent sourdough course too – I’m re-writing my business plan to be about the partnership of bread and soup, selling them together within a couple of miles of my home and will launch in October. Doing the Bread Angels course has changed things so hugely for me in the last few months, and all for the good. I’d recommend it to anyone, because you’ll get what you need out of it on both the baking and business sides, and in a wonderfully supportive atmosphere.” – Elisabeth Mahoney
“The Bread Angel course was a real surprise to me. From a simple curiosity bread making moved into a real interest and now I am a bread fanatic! Jane’s enthusiasm is dangerously contagious. Her passion for bread sticks to you like the dough sticks to your hands: very difficult to get rid of! The course format is very conducive and extremely friendly. Pity it does not last longer! Jane is very knowledgeable and supportive and makes everything look doable and easy even for people with no manual dexterity like me. For the first time in my life I was looking forward to doing my homework and having a great time doing it. It is also the only “hobby” of mine that my family has wholeheartedly welcomed and embraced. My friends are very happy too . The only problem I have found is the limited size of my oven! I have the feeling that a further touch of Jane’s enthusiasm will make me solve that problem too.” – Giuliano Gregorio