Hearth Bakery opens East London’s first communal oven addressing the cost of living crisis

Inspired by medieval communities, Hearth Bakery has launched The People’s Oven in Hackney Wick for budding home bakers and those struggling with the cost of living.

Hearth Bakery in Hackney Wick is launching The People’s Oven on Monday 12 December, inviting members of the community to use its kitchen and oven. 

The project is based on the idea of a medieval hearth – which is also where the social enterprise bakery gets its name – where the local community would gather to cook together at a cooperatively run oven. 

Open to anyone from home bakers, local boaties on the River Lea and people on low incomes who are looking to save on their electricity bills, the initiative will run on a pay-what-you-can basis. 

We want it to be the same kind of experience as going to your friend’s mum’s house for dinner.

Maisie Collins

Maisie Collins, Hearth Bakery founder and head baker said that her initial idea was to open the bakery up for budding lockdown home bakers to come and hone their craft, but since the cost of living crisis she recognised that so many people struggling to turn their ovens on at home could also benefit from The People’s Oven. 

Collins said: ‘We really just saw the opportunity to share in what we’ve got … local people who are feeling the bite at the moment are welcome to pre-prepare food to come and batch cook in our ovens.’

As well as offering access to the bakery’s deck ovens, it will also be a warm, calm space where people can come together for a hot drink and to receive cooking advice. 

‘We want it to be the same kind of experience as going to your friend’s mum’s house for dinner,’ said Collins: ‘Some people might just need a cosy space where they can relax for a few hours.’

Visitors who do want to use the ovens can bring partially prepared dishes to cook, or they can bring all the ingredients and borrow the bakery’s cooking equipment to prepare the food. Professional chef Collins, who turned to baking about six years ago, will also be on hand to offer cooking advice in the communal kitchen so you don’t come away with any burnt bakes. 

Hearth Bakery’s announcement of the project on Instagram was greeted enthusiastically by its followers, with many other bakeries praising the idea and expressing their interest in forming a wider people’s oven movement. Fresh Flour Company even offered to supply flour to bakers who come to the kitchen. 

The recommended donation for a session of baking is £10 but Collins stressed that the project was open to everyone and she would be grateful for whatever people can afford. 

The first of its community projects, Hearth Bakery opened in June 2022 with the aim of feeding back into the community and supporting its neighbours in Hackney Wick.

The People’s Oven will open on Monday 12 December from 4pm to 8pm and will run on the second Monday of every month. Those visiting the kitchen for a warm and comfortable space can just turn up, but bookings are required if you’d like to use the ovens. Just remember to bring enough containers to take those bakes away at the end. 

Bookings can be made in advance via the Hearth Bakery website, by popping in the Hackney Wick shop, or by sending a DM on Instagram. Happy Baking.

Hearth Bakery is found in Hackney Wick at Unit 30, 86B Wallis Rd, E9 5LN.

If you enjoyed this article, read our piece about Blue Daisy, the pavement patisserie in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. 

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