Retailer Spotlight – I Said Bread

I Said Bread, Meersbrook, Sheffield

In the heart of Meersbrook, Sheffield, a delicious aroma wafts through the air, fresh baked bread courtesy of our new friends at I Said Bread.
As part of our “Meet The Retailer” series, we recently caught up with the dynamic duo behind this newfound gem, Pete and Miranda. Having traded the hustle and bustle of London for the slower tempo of sunny Sheffield last year, their journey from urban bakery to the cozy corners of Meersbrook reveals some fascinating insights on the food scenes of both cities.
Join us as we dive into the origins of I Said Bread, exploring the passion, determination, and love for baking that Pete and Miranda bring to their craft.

Can you tell us your name and a bit about yourself, what lead up to you deciding to open I
Said Bread?

Our name is ‘I Said Bread’ and we are a bakery that opened its doors 6 months ago, on Rushdale Road, Meersbrook. My name is Pete & my partner and fiancé is Miranda, and we run the business together. Miranda is the brains behind our delicious food and I’m the one gabbing up front to customers, selling it! Our journey to Sheffield was much like many others stories of migration around the same time I imagine. We were both working at a busy Hackney bakery when COVID hit and the future all of a sudden looked uncertain for so many of us. We had been dreaming of opening our own bakery for a while before this and had chosen Sheffield as our destination back in 2018, so after the lockdowns finished and it became apparent that my position at the bakery would be permanently dissolved, we quickly realised that the time to act was upon us and our much mooted move north began. We packed up and arrived in Meersbrook at the end of February 2022, baked from home for 6 months, selling our wares via Sheffield Organic Growers, Moss Valley Market Gardeners and All Carrot No Stick, and soon after found ourselves with a premises to renovate! 7 months of toil later, we opened our doors for the first time!

Can you tell us a little bit about the history and background of your shop, and how you got
started in the business?

We were made aware of the old hairdressers on Rushdale Road that hadn’t seen use for at least 20 yeas. It is the last commercial location on Rushdale, which for the longest time had a shop on almost every corner, and as well as having been a hairdressers multiple times over the last century, it was also once a bottle shop and bakery – so I guess in some way, we’ve brought it back full circle! We feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to breathe new life back into the building and hopefully, in some way, the experience of living in such a warm and welcoming neighbourhood as Meersbrook. We were both lucky enough to have worked at Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Dalston, Hackney (North East London) from 2017-2021, and learned a hell of a lot of what we do during our time there. Miranda quickly became a very experienced member of the managerial bake team and I managed the wholesale/logistics side of the business – so we both cut our teeth in a fast moving and demanding part of the industry and so gained insights that will serve us very well as we continue our journey with I Said Bread. That means not only how to make great bread, but also what it is to run a business with a welcoming, caring and inclusive approach that sits at the heart of a community. It’s definitely sounds like a cliche, but we want to make friends from the enterprise as well as customers.

You guys came to Sheffield from London. Can you tell us how you see the two city’s compare
in terms of our food scenes? Is there anything either city could learn from the other about
nurturing a healthy independent food scene?

From our first visits to Sheffield as a couple, Miranda and I realised that it is very much a food orientated city. There are so many good restaurants, bistros, pubs and eateries doing great food, as well, of course, as all of the top bakeries! The variety on offer is great and really is beginning to mirror London in that way. Over and above that though, we could also see that it was a place that valued and encouraged small and independent business, in favour of your typical commercial high street. I think we knew then that Sheff would be the perfect location for us to launch I Said Bread.
London and Sheffield definitely share that passion for food, drink and an independent spirit in their businesses, but obviously London can be prohibitively expensive for fledgling enterprises. London is full of pop-ups of all kinds and has been for the last decade, it’s just the opportunity to take that next step toward a permanent premises that is tough without a wedge (or a financial backer) behind you. In Sheffield, opportunities for that next step up might be easier to come by, but competition is just as stiff here as it is in London, meaning new businesses like us have to keep our eyes on the ball to make sure what we’re offering is what the customer wants! That said, we’ve definitely found that other businesses in the area are always ready with advice or a helping hand in Sheffield, which is less the case in London, where the financial pressures mean the vast majority of businesses are in a fight to survive which often precludes that basis of cooperation and mutual support.

What is the philosophy or mission behind your shop, and how do you go about selecting the
products you stock?

Simply put, the philosophy of I Said Bread is to make tasty and nourishing sourdough bread, while only ever using UK-grown, stone-milled, organic flour. This is not necessarily as common as you’d expect, with many UK bakeries using flour grown in as far flung places as Canada, the US, China, India, Kazakstan & Russia. As well as avoiding the CO2 footprint attached to the shipping of such produce, we are also very much in favour of supporting the British farming and milling industries. It is often said that charity begins at home, but we think the same can be said for industry and profitability. What is the use of ignoring potential avenues of supply from within the UK and then complaining that the UK is losing all of its innate industries? It might cost a little more to buy from UK producers, but what you are supporting when you do so, more than makes up for it. We also choose to buy from flour producers who grow their cereals in the right way, using techniques that don’t leech all of the nutrients from the soil and instead consider a more holistic approach to farming that benefits the ecosystem around them.The same ethos very much applies to how we select the other products we sell in-store. If it is made well and locally, we are interested! Khoo’s was one of the first Sheffield producers we earmarked as “one for the shelves” because Alex is making something that not only taste amazing, but which he makes in Sheffield with his own blood, sweat and tears! We also sell bars of Bullion chocolate; Dark Woods Coffee; jams, marmalades, chutneys and relishes from the Yorkshire Preserves Company; plus Sheffield-made honey, apple juice and even craft items, like handmade cups from Burnt Crust Pottery. In this most economically challenging of times, if you can’t support your neighbours, I’m not sure what else you can do!

Can you describe some of the unique or unusual products you produce, and what makes
them special?

I could recommend so much, but if I had to choose, first off would be our Miller’s Sourdough loaf. We use white flour from Yorkshire Organic Millers (York), Rye flour from Tuxford Millers, and then soak oats and spelt grain from Hoddmedods to make a porridge that is mixed into the dough. This ‘porridge loaf’ style means the crumb is much moister than you’d expect to find in the average sourdough loaf and also lasts longer. The porridge gives it an extra bit of texture and bite, which for me is a winner! We vary much of what we make outside of our bread offering, and one of my favourites is the ‘Coffee Bun’ which we bake on weekends. This is our take on the ‘Mexican Coffee Bun’ which actually has nothing to do with Mexico at all, instead originating in Malaysia! It is a brown sugar enriched dough, filled with slightly sweetened fresh cream and featuring a ‘crackle topping’ made with espresso coffee, flour, butter and sugar. It’s the perfect midway point between sweet and savoury and some of our customers are obsessed! Finally, although it is definitely not unique or unusual, our sausage rolls are outrageous! Made with the finest pork meat from Whirlow Hall Farm, beautifully sweet slow-cooked onions and surrounded by the most buttery of rough puff pastries, I’d say you’d be hard-pushed to find a better one!

We’re excited at Khoo’s Hot Sauce to see your business take root in a residential area, a
refreshing shift from the conventional high street. This approach could potentially
rejuvenate many communities. Could you share your rationale behind this residential focus
over the high street? And have you noticed any specific advantages or challenges this has
brought to your business?

We are really excited by our residential location for a number of reasons! I guess selfishly, it’s a dream to have a four minute walk into work from our house around the corner, but really the best part is that we get to sell bread to our neighbours! It means that we really get to know the neighbourhood we live in (I’ve never had so many names to remember!) and have a genuine opportunity to bring some meaningful change to the area. Meersbrook is an incredibly friendly and welcoming place to call home, and it’s no understatement to say that Miranda and I have felt nothing but love since we moved here at the start of 2022. The idea that in some way we could add something to the place we call home, is every bit as thrilling as it sounds. Personally, I would love to see a few more commercial properties open again on Rushdale Road. The area is crying out for a quality grocers! Over the last thirty years, first the supermarket explosion and then the growth of internet shopping, have chipped away at the high street until now, when there’s so little of it left that’s truly independent. COVID, despite all of its obvious downsides, did give us the chance to think a little harder about the lives we want to lead and the places we want to live. For some of us that meant a compete change of location, but to most it meant a shift in priorities such as how and where we spend our money. Quality produce and supporting local businesses have rightly become of genuine importance to many more people in the time since, and long may that continue. I really hope the days of supermarket domination are numbered. Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s right for our communities or our health. It’s early days of course, but there are definitely both advantages and disadvantages to how we’ve chosen to go about things. The advantages are many, but the most obvious is that we have a captive audience in the folk that live in the streets around us! That doesn’t just mean customers on our doorstep, it also means we’re surrounded by people rooting for us and for the neighbourhood at large.I’d say the one disadvantage is the lack of the kind of footfall a high street location would provide, but word of mouth has done a solid job for us so far and new faces show up everyday, so we must be doing something right! As far as we’re concerned, the fact that we are surrounded by so many good people more than makes up for what we’re missing by not being in a more conventional location.

We love fiery food at Khoo’s Hot Sauce. How hot do you like it? Could you let us know you’re
favourite spicy meal?

Spicy food obviously a special place in the heart of this country – and Miranda and I are just as obsessed as the rest of you! We both adore Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Persian, Japanese and Chinese food! The flavours, aromas, colours and variety in all of these cuisines, really do make for culinary fascination – and Sheffield’s Asian food scene has some seriously bigger hitters out there! To choose one favourite would honestly be impossible for either of us, but right now, we’ve been eating a lot of Szechuan-style Chinese noodle dishes, either in broths or dry-style. They’re delicious and quick to make at home, but if you want it effort-free, check out A Journey to Chengdu in New Era Square, or China Red on Rockingham Gate. Both are insanely good.

If one of our readers from outside of your area was to make the journey to visit your shop,
are there any other local attractions that you could recommend to make the perfect daytrip
out of a visit to Meersbrook, Sheffield?

There’s a lot to see and do in this area of Sheffield and so much of it is independent in spirit! Chesterfield Road has Tramshed & Dumpling City selling great beer and vegan Korean food; Create Coffee have a lovely welcoming space and do what they do very well; Bhaji Shop make great bhajis, samosas and takeaway curries; and if you want to buy some vinyl, head to the excellent Spinning Discs – lovely people who really know their stuff.Head down Chesterfield Road toward town and you’ll pass the wonderful Heeley City Farm which is a joy to behold with beautiful farmyard animals and provides a location for the vibrant Heeley Festival in the summer. And once you’ve finished at the farm, you can grab a beer at either The Sheaf View or The Brothers Arms. In our opinion, two of the best local pubs in Sheffield. On the Derbshire Road side of Meersbrook Park, Kopi & Chai is a cracking little cafe/bistro who also use their space to host everything from language classes to yoga and nights of live music. While on the Valley Road side of Meersbrook, Jolly Friar do a lovely bit of fish ‘n’ Chips. And all of this is set around Meersbrook Park which is a great walk, with views over the city that even Turner loved, a community-run walled garden and the beautiful Tudor timber-walled ‘Bishops House’, which is almost 500 years old and more than worth a visit if you fancy stepping back in the past, or even getting married.