by Lucy Purdy
London’s Luminary Bakery helps women who have fallen on hard times rise up and reach their potential.
The almond, chocolate and cherry cake is a tongue-flirter of provocative proportions, while the salted caramel brownies – if gifted and guzzled – would release you from anyone’s bad books.
The goods on display at Luminary Bakery in Stoke Newington, London, scream pure indulgence and pleasure, but the story behind them is anything but light.
The social enterprise was founded by Alice Williams in 2014, to help women who have experienced homelessness, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or criminal activity – people who have the hardest time getting work and reaching their potential.
Williams soon realised that employing them wasn’t enough, so she devised a six-month training programme that more than 50 women have now completed.
The pandemic proved a challenge, but donations from some big brands allowed Luminary to continue supplying trainees with what they needed to bake at home. The bakery also launched its letterbox brownies with UK-wide delivery just before lockdown, and they proved a hit with indulgence-hungry Brits.
The social enterprise also published its first cookbook – Rising Hope – in 2020. At the end of their training, all graduates create a recipe to celebrate, and quite a few of these feature in the book. Its pages capture a community of women, united by hardship, but by joy and resilience too.