Ever been in a cake shop with chipboard walls, copper pipes, scaffolding-plank tables, American number plates on the wall and Wonder Woman merch on display? If the answer is yes, you must already know about this cool little Hanham bakery. It’s the creation of Texan Greg Byczko who, formerly a hairdresser by trade, began baking five years ago while living in Bristol. It all started with a hankering for classic US-style pumpkin pie; not knowing how he could satisfy the craving, he made a very long-distance phone call.
“My ma told me how to make it over the phone as I was baking,” he says, “and people went crazy for it and started ordering them from me. I tried making the pie into a cake, and it just all went from there, really.”
After three years or so of running the business at home, Greg decided it was time to move into a professional kitchen and found this empty bakery in Hanham. The orders for his imaginative bakes have been rolling in ever since.
“The biggest selling flavour right now is Prosecco and raspberry,” he says. “I got the idea from my ma, who did a pink Champagne and strawberry cake. People love it.”
It’s not just the sponge that’s special, though – the sugarcraft is killer, too. Flicking through the portfolio of cakes he’s been commissioned to make for birthdays, weddings and all kinds of celebrations, we spot a British bulldog cake, a Game of Thrones-themed number and several eyebrow-raising multi-tiered monsters (“I’ve never saidno to anyone’s request!” he says), which look as if they’ve been crafted by someone who’s been in the trade for their whole life.
“I guess I’m a little bit artistic,” he tells us when we ask how he learnt to decorate. “It’s just all practice, practice. I can’t tell you how many cakes I’ve thrown against the wall! My partner still laughs and says, ‘Remember when it used to take you five hours to cover a cake?’ Now I can do it in my sleep.”
There are cupcakes, brownies and cookies on the counter too (we can personally vouch for the sweet-salty dreaminess of the peanut butter cookies, made to Greg’s mum’s recipe). Many of the bakes take inspiration from his home country, where chocolate-covered bacon (which you may spot here) is par for the course. On the counter when we visit are Guinness cupcakes with whiskey ganache, meringues in pastel shades and maple pecan cakes.
“We’re really hot on gluten-free too,” Greg says. “You really can’t tell the difference – I used to make two kinds of brownie, but everyone bought the gluten-free ones so I stopped making the others, and no one ever asks.”
These treats can be taken away or enjoyed in the shop, perhaps with a freakshake or good ol’ cup of joe from this self-professed “coffee freak”.