This much-loved café and bakery – tucked away in one of the railway arches at Temple Meads – has no doubt caused a fair few to miss their train. Still, it’s a detour worth taking – even if it does mean you’ll be walking into that meeting a little late. The pastries here are one of the biggest draws too – it’s not an exaggeration to say that people get very excited about the cinnamon rolls. You’ll find them on the counter along with croissants, pain au chocolat (Laura Hart’s favourite, packed with Valrhona choc) and seasonal Danishes, which feature whatever fruit is at its best (as we write, it’s roasted rhubarb and custard – and it’s all we can do to stay at our desk and not make a run for it before they sell out). On Fridays, ‘Wunderbuns’ are on the go, filled with crème pâtissier, chocolate and toasted hazelnuts, and coated in salted caramel sauce. As well as the bakery, you can find some of Hart’s creations at Small Street Espresso, Full Court Press, Little Victories and Earthbound.
Long a firm market favourite (you’ll find these guys trading at the harbourside and Tobacco Factory on Saturdays and Sundays respectively), Farro opened its first permanent site last year on Brunswick Square in the centre of Bristol. The team of three make croissants that are impossibly crisp, airy and flakey – delicious things of Instagram glory. (It’s these that form the foundation of the rest of their range of
viennoiserie.) Then there are the twice-baked honey almonds, which are flying off the counter right now, and the Canelé de Bordeaux, which go down a storm at the weekends – in their hundreds. As well as the classics, there are some more novel numbers to get your teeth into too, as these guys are constantly evolving the selection and trialling new ideas. Right now there’s a new savoury pastry to try, made with Taleggio, spring onion and cracked black pepper – “it’s essentially a pastry well of molten cheese!” Farro’s Bradley Tapp says. What a tease.
3. The Bristol Loaf
The cinnamon swirls at this Crumbs Award- winning café-bakery in Redfield have customers setting their alarms that bit earlier in the morning, to make sure they’re in time to bag one. For those who are too tardy to swipe the last of the cinnamony goodness, there’s plenty more besides, with the usual suspects joined by the inventive likes of the pecan croissant cake and the new savoury swirls (think pesto, pecorino and pine nuts, or harissa, parmesan and pumpkinseed). This indie artisan bakery – which has a fierce focus on organic ingredients – has also recently launched a range of plant-based pastries: croissants, pain aux chocolate and cinnamon buns all come in vegan form now, with an uncanny likeness to the butter- enriched versions. As well as the bakery, you can find The Bristol Loaf’s baked goodness at Better Foods, Poco and Dela. (Psst: it’s opening a brand new bakery in Bedminster soon, too – but you didn’t hear it from us!)
4. Hobbs House
A family outfit that’s almost 100 years old, Hobbs House has seen five generations of baker in its kitchens and is surely one of the best-known bakeries on our patch. Recently, the team have been working to raise the bar when it comes to pastries, undertaking French work experience to get an even deeper understanding of the pastry itself. The classic and almond croissants – the latter seeing a big surge in popularity of late, with its sweet and nutty frangipane filling – have been staples for years, but recently the bakers have been developing fruit pastry that will change with the seasons (once again, did someone say rhubarb and custard?). Cinnamon buns and vegan brioche doughnuts are also favourites. The original bakery might be in the Cotswolds, but you can still get these tip-top pastries on our patch – think the Hobbs House café on Gloucester Road, and also various coffee shops and outlets over Bristol, like Friska.
This unique Bath bakery and café – which is about to celebrate its first birthday – is all about the ingredients, much of its character stemming from the fact it only works with stoneground, UK-grown wheat. The flour for its buns and sweet pastries, for instance, is grown especially for these bakers 10 miles away at Westcombe Dairy, before being traditionally stone milled. Perhaps the signature treat here is the morning bun, inspired by the historic Bath variety, which is laminated with cardamom or cinnamon butter. Co-founder and baker Andrew Lowkes gets his puff pastry action on at 5am each day to make sure that there’s a stream of treats coming out of the ovens all morning and customers can get their mitts on a still-hot bake when they drop in. To wash it down? As well as a great cup of Joe, Landrace’s barista also makes cordials, kombuchas and other soft drinks. Perhaps go for a 5oz cappuccino or freshly squeezed blood orange juice with that straight-from-the-oven pastry. You’ll only find Landrace’s goods at its bakery, but rest assured it’s a trip worth taking.
6. Rye Bakery
Housed in a former church, this impressive café-bakery can be found in the indie town of Frome. It’s run by local Amy Macfadyen and her partner and head baker, Owen Postgate, who is joined at the stoves by his Royal Academy of Culinary Arts-trained cousin Calum Grisewood-Foley. There’s a host of viennoiseries here, including croissants, pain au chocolat, Danishes and sweet buns. The cinnamon bun is a bestseller – a classic done well. There are always some vegan choices too, mind, given the uptake in plant-based eating. The vegan cardamom buns are a no brainer (as are the new florentines, if you don’t feel the need to stick to pastry, made with extra virgin olive oil and top-notch dark choc). All about the ingredients, the team here make sure everything is locally and thoughtfully sourced – they even now churn all the butter for their pastry in-house using raw organic Jersey cream from cows at Ivy House Dairy, which graze a mile away.