Food Safari

The greatest things since sliced bread: a tour through London’s baking hotspots

From sandwiches to Danish pastries, sourdough to naans, the capital’s not short of dough.

13 June 2019
image credit: Fabrique via Instagram

Welcome to the first Food Spark self-guided safari, where we’ll lead you along a carefully curated route, visiting on-trend food hotspots to keep your finger on the pulse. 

For our debut outing, we’ve summarised all you need to know about bakery in the capital. As well as breaking down the facts, we’ll take you to six standout spaces in Hackney, highlighting why they’re interesting and what you should try if you visit. They’re conveniently clustered together so you can hop from one to another, getting a taste of the baking movers and shakers.

You could take our word for it and learn about these tried-and-tested gems on your screen, but it is often more fun (and filling) to taste the wares first-hand!

Using your loaf

Food Spark has already documented the trend for reinventing bread and it seems that carbs have returned to favour as a food group. New bakeries are opening and old favourites are continuing to evolve. It’s a competitive category and the winning players have succeeded in offering a distinct point of difference through global flavours, impeccable sourcing, healthier alternatives and contemporary twists on traditional recipes. In 2019, you really can have your cake and eat it.

1st stop: Fabrique

Address: Arch 385, Geffrye Street, London E2 8HZ

About: Swedish bakery Fabrique has 11 sites in Stockholm, five in London and, since May, one in New York City. The Hoxton branch was the brand’s first foray into England, opening in 2013. They use only natural ingredients and traditional methods – baking in a stone oven – and were part of the Scandi bakery movement pre-Ole & Steen and Soderberg.

What to order: It’s all about the buns here – knotted sticky cinnamon or cardamom, or both. If you’re a rye fan, be sure to pick up a loaf to go, as Fabrique makes some of the best rye bread in London.

Travel to 2nd stop: Walk to Hoxton Overground station, take the Overground to Dalston Junction and walk to The Dusty Knuckle Bakery (total time 10 minutes).


2nd stop: The Dusty Knuckle

Address: Abbot St, Dalston, London E8 3DP

About: The Dusty Knuckle was born in a 40ft steel freight container in 2015. Last year, it opened its permanent cafe and bakery where doorstop sandwiches are the order of the day. The bread is made using organic grain, cracked between huge rotating stones – just as it was in days gone by. Wholesale has become a large part of the business and its sandwiches are sold to some of the best-loved coffee shops and cafes.

image credit: Anton Rodriguez for The Dusty Knucle

What to order: The porchetta sandwich is second to none and is expertly partnered with tangy salsa verde and braised spring onions. There are plenty of specials and veggie sandwich options too – we recommend the roasted spiced cauliflower, tahini and soft-boiled egg. Pick up a croissant or two, you won’t be disappointed with the lamination.

Travel to 3rd stop: Walk 13 minutes to Violet 


3rd stop: Violet

Address: 47 Wilton Way, London E8 3ED

About: Violet is owned and run by expert Californian baker Claire Ptak, who famously made Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake. Claire started out with a popular cake stall on nearby Broadway market and has grown Violet to the mini empire it is today. Her creations are pretty and floral with a real emphasis on seasonality.

image credit: Violet

What to order: Go for the minis so you can try as many sweet treats as possible. A couple of berry nice options for summer: English strawberry and British raspberry. There’s a well-considered free-from selection too.

Travel to 4th stop: Walk 10 minutes to E5 Bakehouse


4th stop: E5 Bakehouse

Address: 395 Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH 

About: Head baker Eyal Schwartz takes a scientific approach, after swapping a career in neuroscience for baking. E5 has become known for simple, hand-crafted breads and cakes using progressive techniques.

image credit: E5 via Instagram

What to order: Sourdough. We’re partial to a loaf of Hackney Wild – made with a blend of heritage and modern wheat grains. Try a Bostock if they’re on offer: a syrup-soaked, jam-filled frangipane using leftover brioche.

Travel to 5th stop: Walk to London Fields Overground station, take the Overground to Hackney Downs and walk to Ararat Bread (total time 11 minutes).


5th stop: Ararat Bread

Address: 132 Ridley Rd, Dalston, London E8 2NR

About: This hole-in-the-wall institution is the place for naans. A huge rotating oven creates picture-perfect flatbreads ready for shipping out to some of the capital’s best shops and restaurants. They’re wrapped and rolled just like kebabs – an ideal on-the-go snack.

What to order: You can’t go wrong with any of the naans on offer. Hot, cold, plain, or topped with meat, cheese or egg. You’ll get a surprising amount of change from a fiver.

Travel to 6th stop: Take the 236 bus to Jolene (total time 8 minutes).


6th stop: Jolene 

Address: 22 Newington Green, London, N16 NPU

About: Food Spark has already documented Jolene, an all-day cafe, restaurant and bakery from the owners of Westerns Laundry and Primeur. The real focus is on the grain. It’s milled in house then turned into all manner of loaves, cakes, pastries and biscuits.

What to order: Head for the pastry counter. Go simple and order the bread and butter to really taste how it should be done. For chocoholics the date, almond and chocolate cake is a must.

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