Rising stars: the UK's best bakeries and bakers
Across the UK, talented bakers are combining traditional methods with innovative techniques to create next-level breads and pastries. Read our guide to some of the best bakers and bakeries in the UK
Looking for the best bakeries in the UK? Check out our expert guide to the best local bakeries and bread bakers in the country. From the best bakeries in London to some of the best in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham.
Farro Bakery, Bristol
A long-time regular at local food markets, Farro opened its first retail location just over a year ago. “Market trading is no joke,” says owner and baker Bradley Tapp. “Early starts and essentially setting up a whole shop for a few hours? I’ve got big respect for all the market traders out there.” One of the most welcome differences since moving the operation to a retail bakery, says Bradley, is that you’re not subject to the weather. “Nothing worse for croissants than a warm, drizzly day. They lose all their flakiness.”
During lockdown, Farro rethought its approach and changed the kind of baked goods it produced. Croissants, for example, sold unbaked and frozen. That way, customers could bake them at home themselves, filling their kitchens with the smells of an artisan bakery.
South Birmingham’s Loaf bakery is a social enterprise – a bakery that aims to build community through food. Loaf launched in 2009 and, at first, everything was baked in founder Tom Baker’s kitchen. The bakery adopted a subscription model (for a monthly fee, subscribers could regularly collect Tom’s loaves from his doorstep) to fund a move to a production site, and now Loaf is a cooperative of nine people, all of whom are directors of the company.
The bakery also focusses on teaching forgotten food skills through cooking classes, with any profit the business makes funnelled back into Loaf’s social objectives.
Baltic Bakehouse, Liverpool
Siblings Sam and Grace Henley founded Baltic Bakehouse to provide the city with “real bread”, handmade and slowly risen, as other bakeries in the city steadily succumbed to the dominance of supermarkets. “The bread is central to everything we do, so we use it to make sandwiches, serve with soup or turn into french toast,” says Sam.
You can also buy sweet bakes (“all yeast-risen goods, to complement our bread”) including danish pastries, cruffins and doughnuts.
The bakery now has two sites, the original named after its location in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area, and the second in Allerton.
Margot Bakery, London, N2
Michelle Eshkeri set up her bakery with no formal bread experience – just a passion for baking. “I’ve made many mistakes along the way but the satisfaction that comes from working on the products every day and baking for people never fades.”
Housed in a former post office, the bakery makes breads, cakes and pastries, many of them traditionally Jewish (think sesame-encrusted simit). Unusually, it also sells sweet breads made using sourdough, including babka.
Michelle says: “The past few months have been a reminder of the fundamental role a bakery can play in a community... to be genuinely useful and to feed people has been a gift for us, as much as for our customers.”
Nova Bakehouse, Leeds
Sarah Lemanski, best baker winner at the 2018 olive Chef Awards and 2014 Young British Foodie Awards, is the founder of Noisette Bakehouse, which has now morphed into the Nova Bakehouse.
Sarah is one of the most innovative bakers in the UK – expect delights such as twice-baked rhubarb and custard croissants, and chocolate cake made with einkorn flour (an ancient variety of wheat). “Flour has been reduced to a commodity ingredient with very little traceability, yet we use it in such volume,” says Sarah. “The different flavours, textures and applications that grains offer are a total joy – it’s like the baking equivalent of surround sound and high definition.”
Grain & Hearth, Whitstable
Adam Pagor, the self-taught head baker at Grain & Hearth, used to run a wholesale bakery business from his kitchen in London. But after having children, Adam and his wife Carmen relocated to Whitstable to open their bakery. “We fell in love with the area and saw a clear gap in the market,” says Adam.
The bakery specialises in handmade, slowly fermented sourdough breads and viennoiserie, with a particular focus on zero waste. Grain & Hearth has also become a hub for classes, where eager home bakers can learn how to perfect anything from sourdough to pizza and croissants.
Miel Bakery, London W1
When we think of bakeries, we often imagine big spaces filled with industrial ovens that pump out hundreds of loaves a day. But in the case of Fitzrovia’s Miel bakery, smaller is definitely better. Set up by Shaheen Peerbhai, a classically trained chef who honed her skills in Mumbai, Paris and London before setting up the bakery in 2019, Miel is definitely petite.
A French-inspired boulangerie and pâtisserie, it serves takes on classic French pastries, including an amazing hazelnut gianduja croissant. “Miel is my dream bakery, inspired from my time living, studying and working in Paris,” says Shaheen. “The focus is on small-batch baking, so it’s baked fresh right in front of you... when something’s gone for the day, it’s gone.”
Unusually, Miel doesn’t have a night baker, so when you visit you’ll see treats coming out of the oven all day.
Aries Bakehouse, London SW2
In the heart of Brixton sits the delightful Aries Bakehouse. Run by Jackie Mckinson, it’s the very definition of a community-based business. During lockdown, Aries Bakehouse switched to a pre-order bakery but its customers still rocked up and offered to help. Some delivered bread and coffee to those in isolation, while others assisted in the kitchen when the workload became immense. “Honestly, this doesn’t even feel like my bakery any more,” says Jackie. “It feels like a collective, with everyone taking part.”
ARAN Bakery, Dunkeld, Perthshire
Flora Shedden, a baker who originally shot to fame as a semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off, opened her first bakery, ARAN, in 2017. Housed in a 200-year-old building – which in past lives has been a lemonade factory and a dentist – the site was derelict when Flora took the space on. It’s since been transformed into a bustling bakery. “I wanted to create a wee hub that could feed and fuel friends, old and new,” says Flora. “Bread seemed to be the most natural choice for me.”
Flour comes from Aberfeldy Mill nearby and the eggs from a farm just down the road. During lockdown, ARAN left jars of sourdough starter on the doorstep for customers to help themselves to.
Bafarat, London W1
This pâtisserie in the heart of Soho has its origins in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – the company was originally created by a local coffee, herb and spice company of the same name. Set up in 1952, it more recently moved into the café business, and Bafarat London marks its first international outpost.
For the bakery side of the business, Bafarat partnered with French pastry chef Thomas Alphonsine to create a range of pâtisserie. Thomas highlights simplicity and high-quality ingredients – a tart that uses coffee in multiple elements, a picture-perfect vanilla mille-feuille, or the most elegant of lemon tarts. “My desire is to create a feeling, an experience, leaving you with a wonderful memory,” says Thomas.
Bostcok Bakery, North Berwick
Bostock bakery is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team, Ross and Lindsay Baxter (Ross is a trained baker and Lindsay’s background is in textile design and fashion). The bakery initially started as a bread stall but quickly moved indoors to a high street location in North Berwick – Ross and Lindsay have since opened a second location in East Linton.
The bakery specialises in bread and pastries but also has a regular pop-up sourdough pizza night. “At Bostock we’re all about providing the best products we can,” says Lindsay. “Craftsmanship is at the core of what we do and we strive for consistency every day.”
The Dusty Knuckle, London E8
The Dusty Knuckle is a social enterprise café and bakery with a conscience, according to co-founder Max Tobias. “The idea was that we would start a bakery that could provide employment experiences to young people at the margins of society.”
Max and chef Rebecca Oliver quit their jobs and launched The Dusty Knuckle from a shipping container in 2014. After three successful years it moved a few metres to a new permanent home opposite. It also runs regular bread-making classes and has ambitious plans to run a youth training academy in the future.
Hart’s Bakery, Bristol
“I’m not sure how customers perceive us but I hope it is that we are doing simple things well, with an emphasis on the people and baking rather than a fancy set-up,” says Laura Hart (pictured), owner of Hart’s Bakery. Tucked away beneath Bristol Temple Meads station in what had previously been a bondage dungeon, Hart’s recently celebrated its fifth birthday, during which time it has become one of Bristol’s foodie hot spots (see our foodie guide to Bristol here), with regulars queuing out of the door for sourdough loaves, seasonal fruit Danish pastries, cinnamon buns and custard tarts (check out our step-by-step guide to Portuguese custard tarts here).
At lunchtime, the emphasis is on good-value dishes to take away or eat at one of the communal tables – perhaps a bowl of butternut squash, burnt miso and coconut soup with jasmine rice, coriander and sourdough.
“We try to keep up with ideas in the industry without jumping on every bandwagon,” says Laura. “We prioritise our service as highly as our products and work hard to foster relationships with our customers, suppliers and the wider community.”
Thinking of visiting Bristol? Check out our guide to the best places to eat, drink and stay in Bristol.
Forge Bakehouse, Sheffield
Martha Brown started The Forge Bakehouse in 2012 following a year studying at Nottinghamshire’s School of Artisan Food. The Forge Bakehouse micro-bakery has become a community hub – in the past five years, her tiny shop has grown into larger premises where she now serves food alongside a large range of sourdough, long-fermented bread and pastries.
“Nearly all our bread is sourdough, we use a mixture of local flour as well as Shipton Mill, and on a Saturday have a range of over 20 flavours. I love the fact we’ve become an important part of our community, as well as the wider Sheffield food scene. Our customers support us so much, they try everything new and are always enthusiastic about our progress.”
The Almond Thief, Devon
Dan Mifsud made his first slow-fermented sourdough at home when he was looking after his newborn son – he found baking so satisfying that he decided to switch careers.
An evolutionary biologist, who also tried his hand as an ice-cream maker in Bristol before moving to Devon, Dan started as a pop-up baker, working at Riverford before opening his own sourdough bakery and café, The Almond Thief, at Dartington near Totnes three years ago. (Here's where to eat and drink in Totnes and, if you're visiting Devon, check out our foodie guide to the best restaurants and bars.)
“People get very emotional about good bread and we have become a hub for people in the village, which is a lovely relationship to have.”
Doughies, Scottish Highlands
What started out for Adam Veitch and his wife, Abigail, as a baking experiment in their Bournemouth flat has, after a move to the Scottish Highlands, become Doughies, a micro-bakery in Fort William.
By day a part-time hydropower engineer, Adam spends the rest of the week baking slowly fermented sourdoughs on a co-owned working croft in Muirshearlich. He sells his bread via a local deli, food network and veg box scheme. His latest creation is the Lochaber Rye Loaf – a black, tinned loaf made with Lochaber-grown rye flour, salt harvested from seawater at Skye and water gathered from the River Spean. Such is his commitment to keeping ingredients local that he even plans to grow his own rye grain soon.
(Read our top 5 best Scottish foodie trips.)
Bread Source, Norfolk
Bread Source is a contemporary bakery specialising in artisan, additive-free bread and pastries using locally grown, heritage-variety flour ground in its own Austrian stone mill. “We mill locally grown wheat and barley to make our breads as flavoursome, fresh and nutritious as possible,” says baker Isabel Brentnall, who can even name the farmers who grow the wheat and barley.
Using traditional methods, natural yeast and long fermentations, each loaf is made daily by hand. The range of loaves include a proper old-fashioned British tin through to Danish rye and spelt – although Bread Source’s Swedish cinnamon buns (here's where to get the best in Britain) are the bestsellers in the bakery’s shop in Aylsham and some of Norwich’s best cafés and delis.
(Check out our weekend guide to North Norfolk.)
Baker & Graze, Cheltenham
“At the heart of our bakery is our sourdough bread and sourdough croissants,” says Ryan Bennett, who runs this bakery café with Adam Hall. “We have adopted an innovative approach to using classic French techniques and modern Middle Eastern flavours but using small local producers, right down to 100% stoneground flour from a 13th century Cotswold water mill six miles away.”
As well as fantastic bread (including gluten-free), Baker & Graze makes exceptional doughnuts and Portuguese custard tarts. “We hand-laminate the pastry daily for the cinnamon rolls and pain au chocolat,” says Adam, “as well as the puff pastry for sausage rolls.”
If you're visiting Cheltenham or the Cotswolds, read our guide to some of the best places to eat, drink and sleep.
Flint Owl Bakery, East Sussex
An organic bakery with its own café in Lewes, Flint Owl’s leavened breads are made using a starter that is 45 years old and originates from the French Alps. Owner David Bland says: “We are one of the very few bakeries that only use organic flours in all breads and pastries. The majority of these flours are stoneground and we blend various wheat, rye and spelt flours to create our own unique loaves. We don’t want pesticide residue in our bread as is the case with most bread – even craft bread.”
The only other ingredients used at Flint Owl are water from the Glynde spring (the well is in the bakery building) and sea salt. “No improvers or anything else get near our doughs. Virtually all our breads are sourdoughs, mixed off a live culture fed daily. The breads get at least 22 hours of fermentation before being baked on the sole of the oven.” David was recently joined by the acclaimed baker Aidan Chapman, who is now head baker after a spell teaching at River Cottage in Dorset and Bread Ahead in Borough Market.
Thinking of visiting East Sussex? Here's our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Hastings, East Sussex.
Known locally as “the Danish bakery”, Brød is run by Betina Skovbro, whose grandfather was a baker in Copenhagen (Read where the best restaurants and bars in Copenhagen are here). Producing a range of freshly baked Danish breads, rye and spelt loaves, pastries and cakes, Brød has certainly brought a taste of Scandinavia (Check out the best Scandinavian food trips here) to Cardiff. “We use traditional Danish methods of hand-crafting all our own breads, pastries and cakes each morning in our own bake house,” says Betina. “We seek to combine two simple ingredients – baking and hygge.”
(Check out our guide to some of the best Welsh foodie weekend trips.)
The Bakehouse, Nottingham
Launched at the end of 2016 by chef Craig Poynter and his wife Rosea, The Bakehouse in Sherwood has already scooped a series of accolades, including a gold at the World Bread Awards for its garlic and herb sourdough.
“We have great partnerships with local artisans,” says Craig, “including award-winning butcher JT Beedham & Sons, who have created a recipe for our sausage rolls.”
The Bakehouse now offers supper clubs, all-day weekend brunches and Sunday roasts. It also supports local charities through donations of any unsold bread at the end of the day.
Read our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Nottingham.
Before they opened Pollen, Chris Kelly (pictured) and Hannah Calvert worked in banking. Hannah started making bread at home and soon caught the bug. “Chris and I wanted to do something that we could put all our energy and passion into, so we decided to open the bakery,” she says.
A self-styled sourdough and Viennoiserie bakery based in an arch under Piccadilly Station, Pollen opened in September 2016, selling specialities like oat porridge bread and cruffins (croissant dough rolled up and baked in muffin tins, then filled with a flavoured pastry cream or curd).
“We use solely organic flours and we work with local millers using their Yorkshire stoneground flour in all our breads,” says Hannah. “These beautiful flours are not only better for you but give the bread a distinctive sweet, earthy flavour.”
Photographs by: Edd Cope, Ed Reeve, David Bullivant, Emilie Whelan, Rachel Hoile, Adam Veitch, Tom Russell, India Hobson