A-Bun-Dance bakery are making a name for themselves with unfamiliar products
Sandy Neil meets the folk behind A-Bun-Dance, a thriving bakery in Easter Ross whose products are a far cry from traditional bannock
Update: A-Bun-Dance stopped trading in January 2014, the below feature is retained for reference.
When Robert Burns called Scotland the ‘Land o’ Cakes’, our national bard wasn’t talking about a country of black bun, jammy sponge and Ecclefechan butter tart, but a land o’ bannock: the staple breid o’ Lowlanders and Highlanders alike, baked on a flat iron girdle hanging above the croft’s reeking peat fire.
But today the bread a Highlander tucks into at the table is as likely to be a ciabatta, roggen brot, Polski schleb or, help ma boab, a blueberry Danish pastry, thanks to the bounty of A-Bun-Dance, a continental bakehouse in Invergordon, Easter Ross.
Master baker Paul Kelly, with his apprentice and nephew James, make the bread every night, while his partner Elanor Gordon delivers it fresh during the day to shops and cafés within a 30-mile radius, travelling with their toddler Finn in the van as far north as Golspie to as far south as Drumnadrochit.
Paul picked up his art, and inspiration, for European bakery from Manchester’s Barbakan Delicatessen, where he kneaded, proved, and knocked for 13 years, baking bread for Manchester United and other prestigious Mancunians. ‘Our breads are made using traditional hand-crafting skills and traditional baking methods, with original continental recipes,’ says Paul.
‘All the breads are as they are meant to be,’ adds Elanor, listing their chewy bagels, porridge oat bread, Polish poppy seed ‘makoweic’ and German rye ‘Inverlander’. ‘We won Best New Business in the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards in 2009, the year after we started. Considering we started in a recession, we’re doing alright.’
Running their own business, and especially a bakery delivering fresh bread every day around the Highlands, is busy work. ‘There’s no getting round it,’ Elanor says, ‘Manchester is a manic city, and maybe our work now isn’t any less full-on, but we enjoy the rural life. Picking from the garden or on a walk inspires a new bread.’
You can sample the fruits of their labours at The Larder in Alness, as well as nearby restaurants Crannag Bistro, Reids Highland Fare and Luigi’s. Or get in touch to place a minimum order, which Elanor can deliver within 40 miles of Invergordon.