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Artisan bakes and ancient grains: nine British bakeries doing things differently

Baltic Wild sourdough, cinnamon buns, scalded rye and bara brith are among the delectable wares on offer at these innovative British bakeries.

Published 12 May 2020, 08:00 BST
The soft white potato sourdough at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Dalston — one east London's creative ventures that began ...

The soft white potato sourdough at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Dalston — one east London's creative ventures that began life in a shipping container in a car park.

Photograph by The Dusty Knuckle Bakery

1. Lovingly Artisan, Kendal
Having picked up numerous awards during a highly successful 2019, Aidan Monks’ Lovingly Artisan is a true star among the UK’s current crop of bakeries. His signature loaves are made with heritage grains using double fermentation and a sourdough starter he personally created. The range includes a five-grain rye and a sourdough made using einkorn — one of the oldest grains available.
Must-try: The mature cheddar and chilli loaf, which won a Gold Medal at the World Bread Awards 2016.

2. Talgarth Mill, Brecon Beacons
While most artisan bakeries will proudly tell you about the specialist flours they use, there aren’t many that can say they actually make their own flour. At Talgarth Mill, however, every loaf is made with wholemeal flour from the community-run, water-powered flour mill. The flour has won numerous Great Taste Awards and is used in a huge variety of loaves, from spelt and sourdough to malted granary and sesame rye.
Must-try: Bara brith, a Welsh bread made with dried fruit and soaked in tea overnight. 

3. Paul Rhodes, Greenwich, London
Even if you’ve never been to Paul Rhodes in Greenwich, there’s a good chance you’ll have tried the master baker’s bread — Rhodes produces a huge range of artisan loaves for hundreds of cafes, Michelin-starred restaurants, delis and hotel groups across London. Although the bakery uses local ingredients, there’s a definite French focus here, with crusty baguettes and pain de campagne loaves among the goods on offer.
Must-try: The fig, apricot and rosemary sourdough. 

4. Karaway, Stratford, London
Traditional rye breads from the Baltics and Russia are the order of the day at Karaway. A multiple winner at the Great Taste Awards over the past few years, each of Karaway’s rye loaves has its own unique starter. Some are matured for as long as 48 hours while others use a pre-fermentation technique called scalding, which results in a moister, slightly sweeter bread.
Must-try: The signature Lithuanian scalded rye, which won three stars at the Great Taste Awards 2017.

5. The Dusty Knuckle Bakery, Dalston, London
This creative bakery began life in a shipping container in a car park. Now in a much bigger premises (but still in that same car park), it produces handcrafted sourdough loaves with thick dark crusts, as well as cakes and pastries. Most impressive is its social employment programme, which provides training to young people who have previously struggled to find employment.
Must-try: The wonderfully soft white potato sourdough.

Baltic Bakehouse strives to produce everyday loaves, made by hand with the best ingredients.

Photograph by Baltic Bakehouse

6. Fabrique, Hoxton, London
This hip Swedish bakery now has several locations around the capital, having first opened in a railway arch in Hoxton in 2012. The original location is still where the actual baking takes place and remains the best place to go for cinnamon buns and fresh Scandinavian loaves. True to its Nordic roots, dark rye breads are the focus here, although there are also spectacular sourdoughs and traditional tin loaves like the cutely named ‘Mr Toast’.
Must-try: The rye and cranberry is the standout loaf.

7. Hart's Bakery, Bristol
The heavenly smell of freshly baked bread constantly fills the air around Hart’s Bakery. Instead of baking just one batch early in the morning, the bakers here work throughout the day, meaning warm loaves are sold straight from the oven. And what loaves they are. Hart’s range includes a malted wheat and sunflower, plus a weekly changing baker’s special available each Friday.
Must-try: The 100% rye sourdough tin loaf, with its thick crust and dense dough. 

8. Baltic Bakehouse, Liverpool
By its own admission, Baltic Bakehouse isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to bread. Instead, it strives to produce everyday loaves, made by hand with the best ingredients. A humble philosophy doesn’t mean a simple process, however — a 10-hour fermentation and a mix of flours give the signature Baltic Wild sourdough loaf the perfect tangy flavour and chewy texture.
Must-try: The Baltic Best, with its crisp golden crust, is the perfect vehicle for a BLT or cheese toastie.

9. Pollen, Manchester
Having started out in a railway arch underneath Manchester Piccadilly station in 2017, Pollen moved to a new cafe space in New Islington Marina in 2018 in order to meet the growing demand. All Pollen’s sourdough loaves use naturally occurring yeasts and are slow fermented over 28 hours, allowing flavour and nutrients to develop.
Must-try: The oat porridge loaf (available Thursday-Saturday only) sees porridge oats added to the dough to create a creamy texture and flavour.

Published in Issue 8 of National Geographic Traveller Food

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