Luminary is a London-based bakery on a mission to empower some of the UK's most disadvantaged women. Its six-month employability training programme teaches women baking skills to a professional standard and Level 2 Food Hygiene, as well as providing the opportunity to do work experience within Luminary's cafés and bakery production units.
Following this, they enter an 18-month progression support programme, can apply for paid work at Luminary or external employment, are linked up with a professional mentor, offered regular wellbeing workshops, and have access to ongoing practical support, all to help them build careers in the food industry.
Many of the women Luminary has supported have experienced extreme poverty and violence and want to encourage others to find hope in any circumstances. Luminary's cookbook, Rising Hope, offers up 70 of the bakery's most treasured recipes and some of the stories behind the women who created them.
Rising Hope covers all grounds, with sections on bread, quick breads, cookies and biscuits, traybakes, small cakes, whole cakes, pastry and desserts, all with charming illustrations by Carrie May.
I've already bookmarked Mimi's goats' cheese and grape focaccia, Grace's honeycomb cheesecake blondies, Rachel's praline and cream brownies, the greengage and elderflower Bakewell tart and Matilda's no-bake ‘caramel' nut bars. The layer cake recipes, with flavours such as raspberry, redcurrant and buttermilk, or pistachio, blackberry and white chocolate, are straightforward but impressive enough for a special occasion.
The story of Rising Hope, its founders and beneficiaries, is worth a read alone, as it shows the true power of what baking, but also hospitality, can do, This is summed up by Luminary trustee and director Liz Simmons: "It means more than an occasion to cook and consume, but to create a welcoming space to empower friendship, purpose and unity."
Rising Hope: Recipes and Stories from Luminary Bakery, by Rachel Stonehouse and Kaila H Johnson (£20, Harper Collins)
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