Bakery rises again on Cat Lane

Posted on November 20, 2010 by


Cat Lane Bakery Then

Tucked away behind the old terraced houses on Cat Lane is an unremarkable, single-storey brick building.  This was built early last century, and for many years was a bakery.  Heeley centagenarian, Eddie Chapman, recalled the bakery in his memoirs recorded by Heeley History Group:

“Going back to Cat Lane – Mrs Garner, she lived in Cat Lane and she used to make pastries and that and sell them from her house.  Mrs Garner was a friend of my Mother’s.  Mrs Prince was her daughter.  T’old lady might never have gone into shop – I can’t recollect that.  But Mrs Garner used to make the pastries and that, from her house.  [And] then she had the bakehouse built.  Or perhaps the daughter had it built, I don’t know….This is about 1930 something.”

[in HEELEY 70 YEARS AGO: PART 2 From Mr. Eddie Chapman]

So, the history of the ‘bakehouse’ is slightly uncertain, and its new managers, Beanies Wholefood Co-operative, would like to find out more.  For a decade or so from the mid-1990s, the Real Bread Bakehouse ran the bakery, and Lembas, the vegetarian wholefood wholesalers began trading from there before that.  Beanies decided on the name ‘Cat Lane Bakery‘ when they took over and subsequently heard that previous occupants had also used that name.  Do you remember the bakery on Cat Lane in any of its previous incarnations?  If so, Chris who is now the baker there would love to hear from you.  Email Chris at or, send in your comments below.

Cat Lane Bakery Now

Chris the Baker at Cat Lane Bakery

Beanies took over the bakery in April 2009 and, after a big clean out necessitated by a year of disuse, began baking bread for wholesale in September that year.   Cat Lane Bakery use organic, wholefood ingredients, sourced locally where possible.  The bread produced differs from supermarket breads, not only in the simplicity of the ingredients used, but also in the slow-process used to make the bread.  Supermarkets commonly use a process called the Chorleywood Bread-making Process – this takes lots of commercial yeast and very fast ‘proving’ times to artificially speed up the natural raising-action of the yeast.  The widespread adoption of this process is linked by some to an increase in yeast and gluten intolerance.  In contrast, Cat Lane Bakery breads use much less commercial yeast as natural yeasts are produced from a ‘sourdough’ – a mixture of whole rye flour and water that produces its own yeast.  This is kept, and ‘fed’ with more flour and water to keep it fermenting.  Additionally, the doughs are allowed up to 48 hours for the natural fermentation process to occur.   The resulting bread has a richer flavour.  It is also easier to digest as the slow, natural production method encourages the dough’s own lactic acids to breakdown the  proteins in the flour’s gluten.  Gluten can be hard to digest otherwise.  Furthermore, this same process also slows the growth of moulds as the bread ages, acting as a natural preservative.

Where can I buy Cat Lane Bakery Bread?

Cat Lane Bakery is now producing an average of 150 loaves per day.  These are distributed in Heeley through In A Nutshell on Chesterfield Road.  Other outlets moving further away from Heeley include Airy Fairy on London Road, Zed’s on the Edge in Netheredge, Down to Earth on Sharrowvale Road, Crumbs on Abbey Lane, and of course through Beanies own shop in Crookes.

As well as everyday breads such as white, wholemeal, mixed seed and malted grain, you can treat yourself to speciality breads such as focaccia with rosemary, ciabatta, and baguettes.  There’s also tea-time favourites such as malt loaf, raisin and cinnamon loaf, and cheese or fruit scones.  See Cat Lane Bakery’s website for a full list of breads, and mouth-watering descriptions:

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