Over two years ago I heard about a social enterprise in my home town of Northampton that aimed to provide employment opportunities to vulnerable local women. In order to break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and offending, structured work placements were offered to female ex-offenders to provide them with practical skills and experience in a real life work environment. The Good Loaf bakery is one such place. Run by C2C Social Action, they support individuals who want to stop re-offending in the Northamptonshire area. Their support is both practical and pastoral to offenders including addicts, alcoholics, sex workers and sexually exploited people.

The first time I visited was not long after it opened and I was impressed by the fresh bread and cakes on offer and I was keen to see how the venture was fairing when I returned this afternoon. I was pleased to see that the place run by both volunteers and paid staff had gone from strength to strength and had won a number of prestigious awards since, including the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2015/2016.

Farrington oils and Friar’s Farm are among many of the local suppliers.

Artisan bread

What impressed me about this little gem of a café hidden away inside an old shoe factory is not only is it a fantastic social enterprise but they produce wonderful food. You can take away freshly made breads from their bakery as well as chutneys, teas and much more, all from local producers.

Alternatively, you can also sit in their spacious café and watch your food being made in their bakery. The café is family friendly, with toys for the children and plenty of space for pushchairs. Everything is fresh with generous portion sizes and the staff are always been incredibly friendly and helpful. The whole place has a real warm, community feel and none of the pretentiousness you see in many trendy, artisan cafes.  

Their bacon sandwiches are a must-try but on this occasion I opted for the ham and mustard sandwich on malted bread and a Cappuccino. Their coffee is roasted locally in Wellingborough and the milk in all the hot drinks come from Newlands Diary Farm, in Northamptonshire.

Ham and Mustard on malted bread

My sister chose the pastrami and mustard sandwich, which she said was delicious. For pudding I went for a scone with clotted cream and homemade jam. Most of their cakes were Easter themed so my sister had one of their cream egg brownies which disappeared pretty quickly. 

Cream egg brownie

Rather excitingly, The Good Loaf also offers Bakery courses. You can spend the day in The Good Loaf kitchen making artisan bread. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments are included. To find out more about their Bakery courses then head over to their website for more details: The Good Loaf Bakery Courses 

Scone with clotted cream and homemade jam
The café is open from 8:30-3:30pm Monday to Friday and 8:00-4:00 pm on a Saturday. The Good Loaf is located in the Boot and Shoe Quarter of Northampton. 

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