Baked goods by bike: 13-year-old turns pandemic project into hyperlocal business

Bicycle Bakery, launched in December out of 13-year-old Kate Tennant's home, sells artisan breads, cookies, biscotti, doughnuts and even baked dog treats — all for modest prices of $4 to $10, with delivery by bicycle included. 

Edmonton's Kate Tennant and her family deliver fresh bread to neighbours on weekends

Matt Tennant, whose 13-year-old daughter started Bicycle Bakery in Edmonton in December, delivers baked goods on his bicycle every weekend. (Submitted by Matt Tennant)

Like many Canadians, 13-year-old Kate Tennant turned to baking when the pandemic claimed her previous pastime, soccer.

Instead of churning out a few loaves of sourdough and calling it a day, Tennant took the hobby further by starting a baking business in her west Edmonton neighbourhood.

Bicycle Bakery, which launched in December, sells artisan bread, cookies, biscotti, doughnuts and even baked dog treats — all for modest prices of $4 to $10, bicycle delivery included. 

Tennant, a largely self-taught baker who learned a lot of her skills by watching YouTube videos, said she started giving away her creations to friends last year. They liked them so much, they encouraged her to run a home business.

"I've always wanted to have my own little bakery," she told CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Tuesday.

Tennant might be the brainchild of the bakery, but now her whole family keeps the wheels turning. 

Every weekend, Tennant wakes up at 5 a.m. to start baking cookies, biscotti and doughnuts. Her twin brother, Jack, has learned to bake bread, and their mother, Jill, handles procurement. 

Tennant's proud father, Matt, delivers all the orders using his bicycle and a knapsack — even as Edmonton temperatures dropped below –15 C in recent weeks. 

Matt Tennant, who is an ophthalmologist and daily bike commuter, said cycling is his way of reducing his carbon footprint and combating climate change. 

"I thought by riding, I could provide some example for others that we can do this year-round," he said.

Bread, cookies, biscotti and mini doughnuts are all on the bakery's menu. (Submitted by Matt Tennant)

As with Edmonton roads, the business is not without bumps.

The high price of organic ingredients has kept the family from making a profit and since Tennant can only fit two orders in his pack at a time, the team can only fulfil a few dozen orders each weekend.

For now, Bicycle Bakery delivers to customers in the Rio Terrace, Laurier, Parkview, Crestwood and Glenora neighbourhoods, straying outside those boundaries for the occasional order.

In the summer, once it is safer for Kate and her brother to cycle outside, the delivery zone may expand.

Kate may be only 13, but she is already thinking of pursuing higher education in culinary arts or business.

Her father said running the company has been a great learning experience for the whole family, as well as a way to brighten neighbours' days during a difficult time.

"This is a way that we can keep ourselves busy and hopefully bring a smile to people's faces," he said.