London's 5 Best: Sourdough
It’s hard to remember a time before sourdough. So when was the bread of my childhood – worthy as it was heavily yeasted – replaced by the now ubiquitous, naturally leavened loaf? Are we indebted to France and its master bakers, or to the West Coast of America, home of the celebrated Tartine bakery, for the cult of sourdough? No matter whom we have to thank; it’s time to celebrate London’s new generation of bakers. Here are London’s Top 5 Sourdoughs:
This tiny bakery is far and away the most exciting opening in West London this year. The one-woman operation started by Raluka Mica is coming up to its first six months open and no, I haven’t got tired of walking home with a paper bag full of warm bread. The sourdough baguettes were the star of the show at chef Henry Harris’ banquet for the annual Oxford Food Symposium. There are fabulously spongy spelt loaves as well as Tartine-inspired porridge breads for the more adventurous consumer.
Address: 153 Askew Road, London W12
The Dusty Knuckle
I discovered The Dusty Knuckle one Sunday at Marylebone Farmers Market, where samples of their exemplary sourdoughs had attracted a queue. Based in a shipping container in a Hackney car park, the artisan bakery doubles as a youth project working with juvenile offenders, early school leavers and the long-term unemployed to help them gain financial independence. This is an operation to watch – they’re already doing great things and I predict a meteoric rise.
Address: Abbot Street Car Park, London E8 3D
Bel Air Wholesome Breakfast. Image credit to Bel Air
Located in Shoreditch, Bel Air brings the idea of Californian-style health food to the streets of London, and aims to brighten up your day with satisfying food which isn’t too heavy. By using the freshest ingredients, their sourdough bread provides the best base for their smoked salmon and cream cheese open sandwiches. Together with a granola pot and a smoothie, they've put together the perfect breakfast package fror you to try.
Address: 54 Paul St, London, EC2A 4LN
Following the success of their Victoria Park café (Pavilion was voted Best London Breakfast by both Stevie Parle and James Ramsden in our Chef’s Table series), the folks behind Pavilion have opened a dedicated bakery and coffee shop on Broadway Market. The moreish bread that sits so stalwartly beneath piles of avocado and home-roasted tomato in the VP café is available to buy there. Go at the weekend for the full bustle of Saturday’s Broadway Market or on Sunday for a quieter outing.
Address: 18 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
E5 sourdough bread. Image credit to Andrew Witt Photography
Still the pinnacle of baking excellence: E5 is an operation fellow bakers revere, never mind the many devoted customers. The Hackney Wild is the house white sourdough, and probably bread you’ve tried if you’ve, say, eaten at Brawn restaurant on Columbia Road (the bread is cut fresh when you sit down and arrives at table with pats of salty butter). Also well worth a try is the fabulous rye studded with coriander seeds, which is a perfect foil to a slick of juniper-infused smoked salmon and crème fraiche. E5 also supply Crumble, one of our newest vendors on the website.
Address: 395 Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH