When the nation began making sourdough back in the heady days of the first lockdown, Irina Ruseva was keen to join in.

The 39-year-old PricewaterhouseCoopers project manager was on maternity leave with her second child, and had always loved baking her own bread.

As it turned out, the people of Urmston loved her bread-making, too. So much so that Irina now spends her days running the popular neighbourhood bakery Flour & Soul.

“We’ve always baked at home and made our own bread,” says Irina, who grew up in Bulgaria. “During lockdown, just like everyone else, I thought, I’ll get back into sourdough... I was enjoying it so much I thought, why not share the loaves with others?”

Irina made a few surplus loaves and posted on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to buy them them: they did. In September last year, she launched Flour & Soul from her kitchen table.

“This is now my full-time job!” she says. “I really enjoy making bread and I really enjoy making real food.”

Irina, who also has a background as a nutritional therapist, bakes white and seeded sourdough loaves, as well as a ‘Maltchester’ and a 100% rye loaf.

She uses flour from a mill in Cheshire, only sells bread in the M41 area, and delivers her loaves by bicycle.

“I think bakeries should be local,” she says. “We will always deliver by bike, that’s one of the reasons we stay in M41. It’s important to stay as sustainable as possible.”

Flour & Soul operates through a ‘bread club’ subscription model that means customers get weekly deliveries of fresh bread straight to their front door.

Bread Club currently has 85 members, meaning Irina is close to reaching maximum capacity. She has invested in a semi-professional oven that bakes up to six loaves at a time, but says that working from home can still be tricky sometimes.

“I have 40 loaves sitting on my dining room table!” she laughs.

She would like to grow the bakery in the near future, and hopes to eventually move to a separate premises. She is also working on introducing new loaves - such as a baguette called the Urmston Stick.

“Working from home has been the most challenging thing really, as I want to grow my business and there’s only so much I can do,” she says.

But on the other hand, her house must smell like heaven?

“I think I have spoiled my children for life,” she laughs. “They wake up to the smell of fresh bread!”

For more information, see flourandsoulbakery.co.uk