Across from the bustling Stables Market, Luminary Bakery is a rare space of calm and tranquility on Chalk Farm Road. While its shop front turns heads with its decadent array of cakes and pastries, the real work is done behind the scenes.
Through a large window in the back of the cafe, customers can watch the bakers at work, precisely measuring ingredients, kneading dough and decorating exquisite cakes. The shop front itself is a showcase for the charity side of Luminary, which is designed to help women who have experienced multiple disadvantages and gender-based violence.
“We use the cafes and the bakeries to show our products to the world,” the Camden store manager Annie Godsman, tells us “We use baking as a tool to provide confidence, to help with life skills, to empower women to find a path to employment and entrepreneurship”. As part of their program Luminary offers counseling as well as practical training, but in many ways baking itself is part of the therapy. “We put patience in the recipe, it’s about taking a step back, surrendering to the recipe,” Annie says.