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The ultimate guide to Suffolk bread - 19 independent bakeries to visit

PUBLISHED: 19:00 23 February 2020 | UPDATED: 20:19 23 February 2020

Two Magpies bakery in Darsham   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Two Magpies bakery in Darsham Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Support your independent bakers during Real Bread Week 2020.

Bread, cakes and pastries at the award-winning Pump Street Bakery, Orford
Picture: KEIKO OIKAWABread, cakes and pastries at the award-winning Pump Street Bakery, Orford Picture: KEIKO OIKAWA

There was a time when we feared for the village baker. Would they be relegated to the mists of time by supermarket in-store bakery counters? Could they survive on our high streets, with other independents dwindling around them? Yes they could!

And Suffolk, in the 'bread basket of England' is a gleaming, flour-dusted, cherry topped example of how not only baking heritage has survived, but that the industry is moving into new era, with exciting, mould-breaking young entrepreneurs bringing down their cookie stampers on the world of dough.

We love great bread in this part of the world and long may the local baker reign. Real Bread Week (from February 22) is on the horizon so there's no better time to give a nod to the talented, hardworking teams and individuals who give us our daily loaf. With bakeries all over Suffolk, from north to south, east to west, we're spoilt for choice.

Palmers Bakery

Where: Haughley and multiple other locations in mid-Suffolk and Ipswich. Haughley is on the Village Green and is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and until 1pm on Saturday.

An absolute institution, and one of Suffolk's oldest bakeries, with current custodian of the business, Kieron Palmer, rightly proud of the business's heritage. The heart of Haughley is the engine room for Palmers, where breads, cakes and pastries are made to time-honoured recipes - the breads cooked in an ancient oven that has to be seen to be believed. Everything's made the proper way, with real ingredients - from fluffy white loaves, to seeded granaries. And the selection of cakes is marvellous - think bouncy Belgian buns, Eccles cakes and buttery Viennese fingers. The team use local eggs, local butchers meat, real yeast, butter and Marriage's and flour to craft their extensive range. And the shop is a bit of a hub, selling local meats, preserves, pies and more.

Don't miss out on their hot cross buns (they still, as tradition dictates) nail a bun up in the bakery for Easter.

Mick the Baker in Diss.

Picture: RACHEL EDGEMick the Baker in Diss. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Weston's Bakery

Where: 23 Gaol Lane, Sudbury. Open 7.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday - there is also a bakery in Halstead

Tucked just off the main drag of the high street this popular bakery and coffee house is run by a family with breadmaking heritage flowing through their veins. The patriarch has a long and varied history of running bakeries in London before settling in Suffolk and really knows his baguettes. The family pride their store on being a 'hot' bread shop, with all bread baked and sold on the premises - in fact you can see it being made in the background as you peruse the county. Specialities include white, wholemeal and malted flake loaves, Danish-style bread, knots and spelt bread with a touch of honey.

Sparling and Faiers bakery in Lavenham was named the best in East Anglia in 2015. Back L-R: Rick Faiers, Hazel Boreham, Anne Faiers, Mary Page with David Sparling (front) Picture: Phil MorleySparling and Faiers bakery in Lavenham was named the best in East Anglia in 2015. Back L-R: Rick Faiers, Hazel Boreham, Anne Faiers, Mary Page with David Sparling (front) Picture: Phil Morley

Wooster's Bakery

Where: The Windmill, School Lane, Bardwell (open 8.30am to 3.30pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday), 8 Langton Place, Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds (open Wednesday to Friday 8am to 4pm and Saturday 8am to 1pm) also at Wyken Farmers' Market every Saturday, Hadleigh Market every Friday, Bury St Edmunds Farmers' Market every second Sunday and Garboldisham General Stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (pre-order)

Head baker Will has had a stratospheric leap to baking fame in the county and is recognised as one of the region's foodie stars, using slow ferment methods and the very finest flours, butter and other ingredients to churn out simply some of the best bread, viennoiserie and cakes in the country. And it's a family affair. Dad Simon (also a very fine baker and surely Will's inspiration) can be found at markets, and brother Joe is at the Bardwell shop and in charge of the cakey side of things. Find impossibly soft and plump batch baked white, bouncy oat bread, sourdoughs, focaccia, impessively laminated croissants and sugar-dusted morning buns filled with crème patissiere.

Kieran and Ken Palmer Picture: GREGG BROWNKieran and Ken Palmer Picture: GREGG BROWN

Pump Street Bakery

Where: 1 Pump Street, Orford. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4pm and from 10am Sunday.

Father/daughter team Chris and Jo Brennan have created a little empire in Orford, which has (alongside names such as Pinneys) made the hamlet a must-visit for foodies. They are obsessive about the quality of both their bread and their chocolate, both of which have been furnished with awards. Bread is made with East Anglian milled flour, and the most exquisite inclusions they can get their hands on, with a focus on excellent sourdough -from white, to seeded, malt and ale and cherry and walnut. Brownies are made with their own single estate 70% dark chocolate. The sausage rolls are heaven. And don't leave without trying a frangipane filled bear claw or flaky Eccles cake.

George (left) and John at The Box, Southwold  Picture: The BoxGeorge (left) and John at The Box, Southwold Picture: The Box

The Cake Shop Bakery

Where: 21 Thoroughfare, Woodbridge. Open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday

An award-winning bakery - once named the best in the country. This is definitely an institution in Woodbridge and it's almost impossible to decide what to go home with once you set foot over the threshold. Floury baps for the best bacon roll. One of their veggie sausage rolls. A new potato or ancient sourdough loaf. The cake counter wouldn't look amiss in Paris, boasting elegant macarons and tartlets alongside little biscuits for children, their famous root cake and awesome brownies.

The Cake Shop bakery is part and parcel of life in Woodbridge Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHYThe Cake Shop bakery is part and parcel of life in Woodbridge Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Penny Bun Bakehouse

Where: The Box, 27 High Street Southwold. Open Saturdays 8.30am to 2pm

You'll find John Spillings' bread on menus across north Suffolk. The Michelin trained chef brings a touch of flair to all his bakes, which are anything but ordinary. While he is predominately wholesale, on Saturdays you'll find his wares at The Box - around 20 to 30 items, changing regularly. From cappuccino custard-filled buns, to rhubarb and almond croissants, smoked pork buns, seven seeds of rye bread (inspired by the Queen song), and savoury swirls filled with salt beef produced with meat from John's brother's farm. All delicious.

Pastries at Wooster's in Bury St Edmunds Picture: WILL WOOSTERPastries at Wooster's in Bury St Edmunds Picture: WILL WOOSTER

Two Magpies Bakery

Where: London Road, Darsham (open 8am to 5pm daily and until 8.30pm Saturdays), 88 High Street, Southwold, 181-183 High Street, Aldeburgh, and 27-29 Timber Hill, Norwich

There's no stopping Rebecca and Steve. Starting with a bijoux bakery in Southwold, they've expanded to open three more sites in quick succession. It just goes to show how huge the appetite for great bread is in this part of the world. Rebecca is a huge foodie, and that's evident in the end product. Sourdough culture is used in all the loaves (made with Marriage's flour), which range from an award-wnning fig and fennel, to 30% rye with raisins and rosemary. And the cake counter buckles under confections such as roundies, billowing meringues, minty grasshopper slices and enormous layered cakes. It's hard to leave without an entire bagful of bakes.

Bread at Suffolk Food Hall  Picture: Suffolk Food HallBread at Suffolk Food Hall Picture: Suffolk Food Hall

Cradle

Where: 40 North Street, Sudbury. Open Tuesday to Saturday 8.30am to 3.30pm

Christophe and Holly have proved than vegan baking can stand head and shoulders with its counterparts. At their community interest café they take great care in working with local suppliers and growers and in sourcing the most ethical raw ingredients to produce their breads, cakes, pastries and café dishes. The couple even go so far as to mill their own flour in-store and to craft their own vegan butter and cream cheeses. Baked in small batches, once it's gone, it's gone, so arrive early for your daily bread. The croissants are incredible. You won't be able to tell they're dairy-free.

Weston's Bakery Sudbury  Picture: Peter BashWeston's Bakery Sudbury Picture: Peter Bash

Sparling and Faiers

Where: Market Place, Lavenham. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and 8.30am to 1pm Saturday.

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This bakery has been supplying bread to the village and beyond since the 17th century - an incredible feat. It really is a local hub. A place with many regulars who pop in for their daily bread and a chat. Five years ago it was named the best loved bakery in East Anglia! Pop by for white tin loaves, granary bred, their signature granary pat (a round split into eight sections), baps, buns and classic cakes. They make an awesome gingerbread man.

Suffolk Food Hall

Where: Wherstead, Ipswich (under the Orwell Bridge). Open 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm Sunday.

The bakery at the food hall is the beating heart of the place - something's always going in or coming out of the oven. It's self-service so you do have to practise restraint. Will you go for a floury bloomer, a crusty baguette to fill with slices of home cooked ham from the deli, cheese scones or maybe a brownie? The shop is packed to the rafters with goodies to go alongside your loaf. Fine cheeses. The butchery's bacon, sausages and burgers. Chutneys. Jams and more. And you can make a day of your visit, with a café, restaurant, lifestyle shop, garden centre, bouncy pillow and escape rooms on site.

Stradbroke Bakery

Where: Queen Street, Stradbroke. Open 7am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday and until midday Saturday.

There's over 200 years of heritage at this village bakery which sells to the public and wholesale locally. They have generations of expertise and know-how, as well as an extensive back catalogue of recipes which keep the counter interesting and ever-changing. Pop in for your standard white tin loaf, and while you're there tickle your fancy by looking out for anything from a Norfolk cob, to chilli bread, walnut whirls, the two-toned lemon swizzle slice and melting moments.

Mick's Bakery

Where: At Star Wing Brewery, Church Road, Hall Farm, Redgrave. Open 8.30am to 4pm Wednesday to Friday and 8.30am to 2pm Saturday.

Mick is a proper character. The gigging musician has been baking for decades and loves to cook in the traditional way, without additives or preservatives. You'll find white, wholemeal, granary and sourdough bread, and tasty Cockney cheesecakes, Eccles cakes, lemon slices and more.

The Friendly Loaf

Where: Nowton Business Centre, Low Green, Bury Saint Edmunds. Open Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 3.30pm.

This is predominantly a wholesaler, supplying local businesses, but during opening hours the public are welcome and encouraged to swing by and purchase any of the changing, artisanal breads, as well as baking supplies. There are baking workshops to get involved with too. The range here includes anything from cheese bread using Grandsiecle flour, to a Pakenham wholemeal made with flour from the local mill. There's patisserie and often quiches and savouries too.

Ben and Ella's Farm Shop

Where: Baythorne End, Halstead, Essex. Open 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday.

Found at Baythorne Hall, where businesses include a wine merchant, antiques centre and butchery, Ben and Ella's Farm Shop is a welcome addition to this site and has been in situ for a year. The shop showcases fine cheeses and British produce but, more importantly, Ben's hand-crafted bread and bakes - from sourdough to tea cakes, croissants, brownies and specialities - think banana, pecan and chocolate mini loaves.

The Bread Basket

Where: 283 High Street, Walton. Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm and until 3pm Saturday.

If you're watching your salt intake pop into this bakery which has been accredited for lowering the sodium levels in its bread - without compromising on flavour. All your favourite familiar breads are on offer, as well as filled rolls, pork pies, sausage rolls and other savouries, and a rollcall of cakes and pastries. Their novelty cakes, mallows and biscuits are a joy. And they're known for their seasonal specials (yule logs and Christmas cakes) and special occasion cakes to order.

Felixstowe Bakery

Where: 116 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe. Open 9am to 3pm Monday to Saturday

A bakery and café doing things the right way. Swing in for savoury whirls, raisin and hazelnut sourdough, French country, focaccia, rye, and other lovely breads. Their cheese scones are especially good, and nice eaten in (with a cake chaser) alongside a bowl of homemade soup or a mug of Butterworth's coffee.

The Tudor Bakehouse

Where: 15a Market Hill, Diss, 11 Broad Street, Eye, and The Market Place and Thoroghfare, Harleston - see their website for opening times

Supplying wholesale and in its shops and cafes, The Tudor Bakehouse is a baking tour de force, making everything fresh, every day, using Marriage's flour, meat from Pepperells butcher and locally sourced fruit and vegetables.

Whether you want your daily loaf, a sandwich, picnic fare, or a little treat, they've got what you need and are proud to sell (in addition to the usual farmhouse, tin and sandwich breads) an array of unique products. There's the Bayerisch Donker - a Dutch-style bread blending various flours with coarse wheatmeal, oat flakes and wheat bran, Avena oat bread - made with wholemeal oat flour, oat flakes, coarse oats, sunflower seeds and yellow linseed and the Med-inspired pia do. That's not to mention the sweet stuff, from luxury, buttery caramel slices, to carrot cake and toffee tiffin.

The Breadwinner, Reydon

A long-time champion of the Real Bread Campaign, this baker's breads and cakes find their way to multiple shops and outlets up the north Suffolk coast and are all made by hand, using a long ferment method.

The range is extensive and varies from place to place, including the poppy seed topped Blythburgh bloomer, Suffolk Seedy (half wholemeal, half white with pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed and poppy seeds), spelt digestive biscuits, prune and sultana tea loaf, plus granola and muesli. Look out for his products at Barbrooks Stores in Reydon, Beccles Station café, Black Dog Deli in Walberswick and many more.

Tensheds Bakehouse

Where: Order to collect from The Bell Inn, Castle Hedingham on Fridays, or find them at Sudbury Farmers' Market (last Friday of each month at St Peter's Church), Long Melford Farmers' Market (second Saturday of each month in the Village Hall from March), and Colchester Farmers' Market (in the Arts Centre on the first Friday of the month).

Growing in popularity this small bakery produces everything from sourdough and baguettes to specialities changing weekly, be it sourdough with a whole camembert baked inside, Marmite and onion cob and pub crumpets in flavours such as Stilton and cranberry. Find them at local farmers' markets and The Bell Inn, Castle Hedingham, weekly.


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