There are few things as essential as bread. We speak of earning our daily bread, pray for it even, and pity those without enough as living below the bread line. Over the last few years there’s been a far-reaching bread renaissance – if you’re out for brunch you can’t move without butting up against slices of sourdough, likely smeared with smashed avocado.
There are certain bakeries whose names must be dropped if you want to sound in the know – E5 Bakehouse for the Clapton hipsters, Poilane for the Sloane Square shoppers, St John for south London-ites who love doughnuts. And then there’s Borough Market’s Bread Ahead. Founded by baker Matthew Jones in 2013, the bakery has quickly become the market’s warm heart, offering classes for the knead to knows.
And they’re expanding. As of this January they also have bakeries in Chelsea and Soho. No need to go and queue at the stall in the icy market. Start your morning at Beak Street which offers an array of breakfast treats that will set you up for the day, available all day long. Brioche French toast with jam, honey and icing sugar or bacon and syrup, scrambled eggs served on a demi-brioche bun with smoked salmon, and toasted brown sourdough with mushrooms and a fried egg top the list.
Then there’s your usual raft of pastries, including the famous-because-of-Bake-Off kouign-amann, which are entirely deserving of the hype. And it’s not just baked goods – they have a ‘build your own porridge’ menu with toppings like cashew butter, roasted coconut flakes, quinoa, chia seeds and Manuka honey to choose from.
The gluten intolerant needn’t fear either – using chestnut flour they make gluten-free waffles, which can come with almond milk yoghurt if you can’t handle lactose, berries and compote.
But honestly, if you can eat all the gluten, and all the lactose, the pièce de résistance is the Croque Monsieur, a deliciously unctuous, cheese-loaded, buttery delight. This is not just cheese and ham on toast. It’s not even a ham and cheese toastie. It’s next level; the best way I’ve ever eaten these three things – cheese, ham and bread – in combination. Don’t wait till lunchtime to indulge, this is the kind of breakfast that will champion your morning.
It’s bread, yes, but not as you know it. And not a smashed avocado in sight.