October 26 Bread and Books

Interview with Raluca Micu | Owner of October 26 Bread and Books

Raluca Micu combined her two passions, baking and reading, to create October 26 Bread and Books, an independent bakery and bookshop on Askew Road, which since opening has become a local favourite.

From opening as a bakery in 2015 to expanding into a bakery and bookshop, we speak with owner Raluca Micu to discuss all things bread, books, and blooms.  

153 Askew Road, W12 9AU, London

Thursday & Friday: 10am – 3pm

Saturday: 10am – 2pm

October 26 Bread and Books
Credit: October 26 Bread and Books

How October 26 Bread and Books started

Raluca started October 26 in March 2015, converting what was previously the beauty salon, Planet of Joy, into a bakery.

When discussing how October 26 Bread and Books, we asked whether she had been baker before starting the business to which she replied:

“I was not a baker before opening the business, I taught myself how to bake while I was on maternity leave and then when offered redundancy from my job, I used the money to open the bakery with not much experience in baking.”

While October 26 officially opened in March 2015, Raluca said:

It started as a bakery to begin with in March 2015, but really a lot earlier, in my university years when I dreamed of opening a bookshop and then while I was working in a large company and dreaming of a bakery. The Books part was added in 2021 after volunteering at the Amnesty Bookshop in Hammersmith and falling in love with the idea of a bookshop all over again.

Raluca Micu, Owner of October 26 Bread and Books

The story behind the name October 26

When asked why she chose October 26 as the name for her bakery and bookshop, Raluca said:

“October 26 is my birthday. Many things have happened on this day in my life, too personal to describe, but when I was searching for a name almost nine years ago, it seemed like it defined me.”

Initially, when the bakery opened, it was known as ‘October 26 Bread and Pastry’, but later became ‘October 26 Bread and Books’ when Raluca diversified the store into a wonderful bakery and bookshop. 

Inspiration for opening a feminist bakery and bookshop

October 26 Bread and Books is a unique bakery and bookshop championing female-led businesses and promoting feminist literature.

When we asked Raluca what inspired her to open a feminist bakery and bookshop she replied:

“For a very long time, I wasn’t very interested in female friendships, but after I became a mum and as my ideas and view of the world changed, I discovered that being around women, supporting them and having a tribe is priceless and something I really needed. So I decided to do my part and support other women: producers, makers and writers.”

Raluca Micu, Owner of October 26 Bread and Books

Bread and baked goods

Raluca expertly crafts sourdough bread alongside a tempting array of baked goods, including heavenly cinnamon buns, mouth-watering fruit galettes, delicate madeleines, and cheese and mushroom pies, all of which are made on the premises. 

When discussing what breads and baked goods Raluca has available, she said:

“I bake only sourdough bread, with organic flour, usually two types: a white loaf and a country loaf – a slightly darker one, and on Fridays and Saturdays, we have two specials, a porridge loaf and a miso and sesame one.

We offer cinnamon buns, fruit galettes and madeleines as sweet treats and cheese and mushroom pies for the savoury lovers.”

Process of making the loaves on the premises

Raluca freshly bakes the sourdough bread and baked goodies on the premises.

Depending on the day, Raluca said “during the week we bake around 60 loaves to almost 100 on a Saturday. For treats it depends on how busy the week is, it could be around 100 or more each week.”

When we asked Raluca what the process was to make the loaves, she explained:

“From start to finish it takes around 24 hours to bake a loaf. The dough is mixed early in the morning, left to proof for a while, then weighed and shaped before getting a long sleep in the fridge until the next morning when it’s baked.”

Bakery in Shepherd's Bush
Credit: October 26 Bread and Books

Choosing suppliers at October 26

October 26 Bread and Books is not just a place for exceptional bread and pastries, but also a haven for those seeking carefully curated products.

Raluca has a passion for supporting female authors and entrepreneurs, and as a result, she expanded her bakery to offer a selection of books written by female authors, as well as a variety of produce and lifestyle items, including but not limited to coffee beans from an all-female roastery, artisan candles, locally sourced honey, delicious curry sauce and children’s books that are handpicked by Raluca.

When we asked Raluca how she determines which vendors to collaborate with, she replied:

I always try to work with people who believe in the same things I believe in, who offer ethically sourced and produced things, or organic as is the case of all the flour we are using from Shipton Mill. Of course, now there is an added layer to that and I am trying to buy things from women-founded businesses, or local family businesses.

Raluca Micu, Owner of October 26 Bread and Books
Bookshop in Shepherd's Bush

Books and authors featured at October 26 Bread and Books

When Raluca’s not busy baking, she curates the store’s wonderful collection of books, carefully selecting, and ordering new titles from publishers and distributors.

When asked what books are available at October 26, Raluca said 

“We specialise in books written by women both fiction and non-fiction. I try to find a middle ground between the two genres but also between classics and newly published books.”

Raluca mentioned that often if she reads a book that she enjoyed she would also add it to her collection at October 26.

Book recommendations

Raluca’s passion for books and reading goes beyond her store. She regularly visits other independent bookshops browsing their shelves and exploring new titles to read.

When discussing what books she would recommend reading, Raluca said “For a summer read I would definitely recommend “Lessons in Chemistry” By Bonnie Garmus. A brilliant book that I loved and surprised me in a very pleasant way: “Maud Martha” by Gwendolyn Brooks, and anything really by Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou”

Francis Smith Flowers joining October 26 Bread and Books

Francis Smith Flowers joined October 26 downstairs a month before lockdown started in 2020. During lockdown, the space was used as a workshop for flower deliveries and later transformed into a “hidden” flower shop offering customers one-off orders for hand-tied bouquets, seasonal bunches and jam-jar posies.

When Raluca and Philippa were discussing their plans to work together under the same roof, Philippa mentioned that she went to visit her grandparents who gave her a Japanese Flower Arranging book which featured the quote:

“If one finds oneself with bread in both hands, that person should exchange one loaf for some flowers… because the loaf feeds the body, but the flowers feed the soul” Nazr Mohammed.

Philippa said the quote fits perfectly with what they had been discussing and inspired them further to provide people with “Books for the mind, Bread for the body and Blooms for the soul.”

While Francis Smith Flowers is run independently to October 26, both Raluca and Philippa work as a team to help promote each other’s business and passion.

Francis Smith Flowers

Living in Shepherd’s Bush

As a Shepherd’s Bush local, we asked Raluca what the benefits of living in Shepherd’s Bush are and what makes it so special.

“I think it’s the diversity of people really and around Askew Road in particular. It is that feeling of community, which is difficult to find in a large city like London.”

Thinking of moving to Shepherd’s Bush

If you’re interested in letting, renting, selling or buying in Shepherd’s Bush, please contact our Shepherd’s Bush estate agents, without obligation.