It was the golfing ladies who started it.
Well, the golfing ladies, as well as wheaten bread, scones and shortbread. For almost twenty years Scott McDonald has been the caterer at Bangor Golf Club. Ladies would come up to him and ask if he might be able to bake them a few loaves of wheaten, a tray of shortbread, or some scones for them to take to such-and-such an event. Scott would oblige, and the orders grew. He soon realised he might just have another business on his hands…
Licking the spoon
Scott’s mum was a brilliant baker. He’s sure every son says that about his mum, but it was true. Both his mum and nannie were exceptional cooks, and Scott was quick to catch the passion. He wasn’t able to start a home apprenticeship, however. Oh no, his mum was adamant that her kitchen was her space. Scott was allowed in towards the end to lick the spoon. It must have been enough, because by 14 Scott was working in the trade and baking up a storm. Little did he know it would one day lead to his own baking business.
Loaves and lockdown
He did it last year. He took the plunge and decided to set up his own business, Olive Tree Bakes. It was a name he’d had in the back of his mind for some time, and he once told his mum, who has now passed away. Sadly, she never saw the dream become a reality.
The plan was to bake breads, sweets and savouries and set up a stall at the various markets around Co Down and Ards Peninsula. It was exciting times. On the 6th March 2020 Scott received the keys to his baking premises. Right in time for a global pandemic and just before a nationwide lockdown. Could the timing have been any worse? Scott didn’t stop to dwell for long at all. Instead, he sought the help of his partner, Maurice, and the business changed tact. Instead of baking for markets, they would bake and deliver directly to customers.
Six days a week Scott would rise at 2.30am, bake all ‘day’, whilst Maurice packed and delivered. As households faced extended lockdown, things got busier. Scott connected with Paul here at Kylestone Nursery, and soon began stocking his produce in our Farm Shop. Soon, Scott brought on two full-time bakers. To remain COVID-19 compliant, they work in shifts. The savoury cook arrives at 20.00 and works until 2am, before Scott comes in settles in for bread duty. Scott didn’t expect to be able to keep people employed during the pandemic, and it’s something he’s proud of Olive Tree Bakes for achieving.
Locals supporting locals
Born and bred in Groomsport, the local community is important to Scott. Wherever he can, he tries to support other businesses in the community. The flour comes from a local mill, Andrews Flour, in Belfast, the eggs are from Clements, and Scott goes to Down Wholesale for fruit and veg. He’d like to be able to support NI for everything, but we’re not the best climate in the world for oranges and lemons!
Scott recently met a young photographer, Melissa Faye Photography, looking for more work. He invited her to the bakery for half a day and employed her to photograph all their produce. He’s keen to have her back when markets re-open so she can capture shots of everyone enjoying the atmosphere. He’s also become a member of Food NI to help connect with more businesses around the country and to support the industry as a whole. The business also donates freshly baked goods to the local Food Bank.
Olive Tree Bakes is faithful to the original three that started it all – wheaten bread, scones and shortbread (traditional Irish three-ingredient recipe). The mouth-watering range also includes brownies, biscuits, car squares, swirls, sausage rolls and more. Scott’s favourite bounces between the wheaten, which he perfected when he was 14, and the shortbread, which is his mum’s recipe and her favourite, too. It’s probably the shortbread, to be fair. The savouries have been a big hit of late, and Scott is looking forward to introducing new mini pies on the menu. He has visited, and loved, Australia. So, we are expecting big things given it’s their national dish! All the delicious goods are made using home recipes from Scott’s mum and nannie, and no artificial ingredients are added.
What’s job satisfaction?
Well, he can’t say it’s the hours…! But he’s used to those. He’s pretty humble when answering this question, but Scott says it’s the feedback and reactions he gets from customers. For example, he might one day get a random text from someone telling him how good the day’s bread was. Or, he might deliver a hamper of baked goods to a home, and see everyone’s faces light up. It’s priceless.
What Olive Tree Bakes says about us
Finding Kylestone Farm Shop was one of the first major turning points for Olive Tree. Up until then we had been doing home deliveries and supplying a few shops and butchers due to the lack of outdoor markets. We were really taken back at how quickly we started supplying nearly all our products to Kylestone almost every day we were open. Paul and the team couldn’t be friendlier, with an amazing setting for a nursery and farm shop. It’s always great to hear a golf club member or a friend say, “I was just out at Kylestone, its great to see so many of your products on display!”Scott, Olive Tree Bakes
Here’s to many years working together.
Feel like placing an order? Visit our Farm Shop for some delicious Olive Tree Bakes and remember, we deliver for free! Thank you, Melissa Faye Photography, for the great shots – we’re hungry!