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Artisan bakery in De Beauvoir to help young rise above crime

Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver want to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.
Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver want to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.

Sunday, May 4, 2014
2:00 PM

A micro-bakery is encouraging young people to use their loaves and rise above a life of crime.

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Max Tobias wants to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.Max Tobias wants to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.

The Dusty Knuckle Bakery, which currently bakes weekly batches of bread overnight at Sweet Thursday pizzeria in De Beauvoir, is looking to help hard-up youngsters switch the dole for dough.

Started a year ago by Max 
Tobias, a youth worker, and his business partner and friend 
Rebecca Oliver, the bakery uses the residual heat of the pizza oven to make its loaves, which are then kept in the fridge at The Place coffee shop in Canonbury.

Now they are looking to harness Britain’s burgeoning obsession with high-quality bread to get people back to work.

Mr Tobias, 30, has worked with young people in crisis for the last 10 years, and started baking bread when he was 12.

Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver want to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.
Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver want to help troubled youngsters through their business The Dusty Knuckle Bakery.

He said: “Employment is everything if we’re expecting young people to behave themselves and to develop into responsible adults.

“Bread-making is a very practical skill, something that anyone can learn and that has 
immediately tangible rewards.

“You work one day, it comes out of the oven the next and then you put it in to the customer’s hand – it’s very gratifying and you’re not staring at a computer screen.

“For people who aren’t confident in the professional world it’s a great opportunity to learn those soft skills that are so 
important. I’ve worked with young people involved in serious violence and they think nothing of it because they have nothing to lose.

“Once they are let into that lifestyle of having a job and getting paid, they see the rewards and want to keep them.”

Micro-bakeries have taken off over the last few years due to the success of shows like The Great British Bake Off on BBC 2.

They have become such a hit that The Dusty Knuckle Bakery appeared on a Radio 4 programme in March, as part of the Real Bread Campaign.

The bakery hits the high standards sought by bread connoisseurs, using a living sour dough rather than yeast as a raising agent.

Mr Tobias said: “People are slowly getting the chance to try bread that is good – they never really had the opportunity 
before.

“I think people care more about what they eat now and once you get used to eating bread that is good you don’t go back.”

The bakery is now in the process of finding a permanent home in Hackney.

n If you are interested in getting involved with The Dusty Knuckle or want to try their bread e-mail thedustyknuckle@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter @thedustyknuckle.

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