Baker of the Month July 2023
Bakers: Rosie-Mae Halstead and Ruth Diskin
Bakery Business: Mill Kitchen & Bakery
Location: Farsley, West Yorkshire, UK.
Social Media: @millkitchenfarsley
This month we have a double feature as we had the pleasure to chat with local Chef Works wearers, Rosie-Mae Halstead and Ruth Diskin, the baking duo at Mill Kitchen & Bakery. Starting work before the sun rises, they supply the area with the freshest of baked goods each and every day. With an outstanding array of tasty options on offer, their baking is second to none.
1. Describe your bakery:
Ruth: We’re a local café and bakery, think classic breakfast and lunch items plus sourdough bread, cakes and pastries, all made in-house here at the Mill.
2. Describe your kitchen and team?
Rosie: It’s just the two of us, myself and Ruth, baking. We work very well in tandem. We always find ourselves laughing, dancing or listening to a serial killer podcast. Our kitchen is a good size, a tight squeeze with 50 loaves on the bench, but it's a nice open and light space.
Ruth preparing the morning bakes.
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why?
Ruth: The Memphis apron. It has lots of pockets, the denim is hard wearing, ages well over time and hides how much flour I’m covered in during a shift!
Rosie: For me it’s the black thick Bib aprons with the front pockets. Perfect for putting a pocket sausage in. (Snacks are essential)
4. First job:
Ruth: My first job was in the Ikea children’s dept, making dusty beds up many, many times a day and gathering the wandering soft toys from around the store.
Rosie: In a card shop with my mum. I was really intrigued with visual merchandising – it’s really helped with how I present my pastries.
5. Favourite cookbook:
Ruth: The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James is invaluable. Outside of baking anything by Madhur Jaffrey is a winner.
Rosie: Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking. It's got a bit of everything! (Twice-baked Bubble and Squeak Jacket Potatoes are phenomenal).
6. Your awards/career highlights:
Ruth: Working at Leeds Bread Co-op for six years was a massive learning curve, both for my baking skills and business knowledge. I got to work with some incredible people there, churning out loads of loaves, teaching baking classes and even occasionally delivering bread.
Rosie: Career highlights would be changing careers from Retail to baking. I'm pretty good at the latter naturally, so I should really have taken the plunge and done it sooner!
7. Your baking inspiration and why:
Ruth: Seasonal produce at its best, what could be more inspiring!
Rosie: French patisserie inspires me a lot. I'd love to perfect French baking.
8. Your speciality bake (we love tasting notes!):
Ruth: A simple croissant is delicious and buttery, and a challenge to keep consistent through the seasons (especially in our greenhouse of a bakery), but we make it happen.
Rosie: Custard tart, my not so secret tip – infuse Custard mix with bay or fig leaves for an extra indulgent bake!
Delicious Morning Buns, dusted in cinnamon sugar and filled with fresh cream.
9. Favourite dish to eat:
Ruth: Stodgy, hearty winter food is my go-to, so it has to be a beef pie or stew with dumplings. Having said that, I’d eat a pile of fresh Scottish seafood any day of the week.
Rosie: Egg fried rice, light in colour, with peas! I could eat it for every meal forever.
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate:
Ruth: I tried goose barnacles (shellfish) earlier this year when I was in Lisbon, they were a bit underwhelming.
Rosie: Mushrooms! Don't even get me started, I have an anti-mushroom agenda!
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
Ruth: Vanilla, when its good it’s great.
Rosie: Rum & Raisin, or bubble-gum. Polar opposites.
12. Favourite family recipe:
Ruth: It’s slim pickings, but my dad’s egg and chips is probably the highlight.
Rosie: My stepdads cottage pie is the best you'll ever have. Requested it for my 19th birthday meal.
Bakers Rosie and Ruth in their well-loved Memphis aprons at Mill Kitchen.
13. Savoury or sweet?
Ruth: Savoury all day long, basically anything with chips!
Rosie: And I’d say sweet, all the way, think Creme Catalana or Panna Cotta – basically anything cream based!
14. Who would you most like to bake for?
Ruth: Baking for family and friends, I think I’d buckle under the pressure of baking for any kind of food hero.
Rosie: I'd like to bake more for my mum. She's celiac, so it's hard to perfect and alter recipes with GF (gluten free) flours and replacements.
Freshly baked Sourdough loaves cooling on the counter.
15. Favourite city, any particular highlights?
Ruth: Berlin is great, especially the currywurst, kebabs and some really good baklava (trips away are obviously all about food).
Rosie: Most definitely Bruges. It feels like I lived there in a past life!
16. Your greatest indulgence?
Ruth: A chip butty, in potato bread with loads of vinegar and mayo. A triple carb threat.
Rosie: Florentines. Or brandy snaps covered in chocolate. Or both.
17. And finally, your all-time best baking tip?
Ruth: Read ALL of the recipe and method before you start. And always use scales.
Rosie: Patience! (And you don't need to sieve everything).
Photography: Steve Bootle.