Born and bread in Lanarkshire
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 28 September 2018
The new Post House bakery in the village of Douglas, South Lanarkshire, is getting back to bread and butter
It was a very bad case of pneumonia that helped turn Jamie Harris from globe-trotting salesman into local baker. 'I really could have died,' he recalls. 'My wife and I were only a year into our 10-year plan – which needed a bit of a rewrite.' A friend's suggestion while in his recovery bed led to a baking course at New College Lanarkshire's respected Motherwell campus kitchen.
Born in the South Lanarkshire village of Douglas, Harris moved on in his twenties to odd-job it around the world, which turned into a career proper-jobbing it around the world as an account manager for various companies. It's a career that has paid dividends for his bakery start-up in Douglas, the Post Office Bake House: 'My experience in sales has really helped me negotiate deals with suppliers – I've saved thousands by being a bit necky.'
Giving the old post office a new lease of life is indicative of the changes Douglas has gone through. Harris feels it's ready for a contemporary bakers. 'It was still a pit village when I was a boy, busy with people who had some money in their pocket,' he remembers. 'After all that went it had the usual brain-drain, but it's been picking up now for several years. It's back on its feet and locals are willing to spend a bit more on produce that's made with better quality ingredients.'
Somewhat against the grain for Lanarkshire's bakers, Harris won't be doing much sweet stuff. 'I'm sticking to the savouries at first – breads, rolls, sourdoughs, pies, etc. Once we're up and running and the finances are better, we'll start on the cakes. I will do a pain au chocolat though – because I like them. And a neighbour has asked to use our ovens to bake cakes so we'll probably have plenty for sale.'
Utilising some of Lanarkshire's famed suppliers such as Ramsay of Carluke for bacon, black pudding and ham, Harris is certain one ingredient makes the difference: 'Butter! Nobody uses it anymore. Way too much margarine in pastry these days. Do the Pepsi challenge on it – butter will win out everytime.'