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.
“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.”
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.”
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).
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
Ask Sam Henley what the most essential ingredient is when it comes to his bread and he’ll almost certainly say ‘time’. Shortlisted in the finals of 2017’s YBFs (Young British Foodies, here’s our podcast with the founder), Sam’s Baltic Bakehouse makes bread without preservatives and additives. All loaves are risen for at least 12 hours, with some taking more than 72 hours to produce from start to finish.
Also known for its tarts, doughnuts and pastries, such as the blackberry crumble Danish with caramel custard, the Bakehouse has been baking for locals for five years and won several World Bread Awards along the way.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”