First look: New bakery and cafe in Aldeburgh is ‘cake heaven’
PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 December 2018
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis meets the baker behind Two Magpies which has just opened a new branch in Aldeburgh.
Billowing meringues, whirled with a wisp of chocolate or berries pile high, glistening swan-white in the sun.
Eccles cakes, bursting with boozy fruit, their edges sticky, crusted in a coat of sugar, form a circle.
Jaunty gingerbread reindeer, with comical red noses line up to attention.
And thick layers of chocolate fudge hide between towers of sponge.
This is not Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. No, this is Aldeburgh’s newest addition – Two Magpies Bakery and Café.
Owner Rebecca Bishop, who runs the business with her partner Steve, has an ingrained, all-encompassing love of baking, bringing inspiration from all four corners of the globe into her pastry kitchen. There are cork-shaped miniature chocolate cakes pressed together with chocolate buttons in homage to star chef Thomas Keller’s bouchons. Fig-studded panettone (authentically Italian) line the counter. American kitsch comes in the form of grasshopper slices – dark, chewy chocolate brownie covered in peppermint icing and chocolate.
It’s a cake lover’s dream. And certainly the new premises in Aldeburgh (a café and separate takeaway in the former preises of Chopping’s Hill) are Rebecca’s dream.
It has been the baker’s intention for a long time to open a second location (there is also a petite original branch in Southwold) and a third is in the pipeline, with Rebecca having taken on the former East of England ‘Darsham Hamper’ site, to become a fully-fledged pastry kitchen, baking school and cafe in the first half of 2019.
The seating configuration is also to change at Southwold, with much of the baking being moved to Darsham, meaning even more diners will be able to enjoy the café there next year.
At the moment the team are in full festive mode. Sausage rolls studded with cranberries are flying out the door. Mince pies are in constant production, made with Two Magpies’ own mincemeat and almond pastry. And the panettone (infused with Pedro Ximenez sherry) is being sold whole to takeaway, or sliced and toasted in the café as a breakfast option.
Talking of breakfast, and the more sprawling site at Aldeburgh has enabled Rebecca and Steve to really expand their menu. Using locally sourced where possible (including meat from Gerard of Salter & King just up the road) breakfast and brunch are a joyful celebration of the best ingredients, paired with very good bread.
An Adnams Ghost Shop rarebit is going down a treat, as are the brioche buns filled with all manner of things – from a full English to thyme infused mushrooms.
Breakfast is served until 11am and brunch from 11am to closing at 4pm.
New cakes and bakes are added all the time, but always sticking to Rebecca’s original ethos of keeping it natural.
“It’s really important for us that we make everything from scratch,” she says. “So we don’t buy anything in. All our breads are either 100 % sourdough or have a very small amount of yeast. There are no quick breads. Our starter is 500 years old, but I teach pizza making classes and as I tell them, this starter has been refreshed so many hundreds of times, it’s not the same anymore! For me it’s all about that slow process and long fermentation. It’s all made with a passion for flavour and good taste.”
Although Rebecca admits her off-the-wall ideas don’t always go to plan. “I’ve made so many wacky things and have had so many go wrong in the past. But I have learnt that it’s actually those mistakes that feed the process and they’re essential. So I usually start with an idea, and I have this three times rule I instil in everyone. You’ve got to accept it won’t always work the first time so it’s best to go in with that view. But you learn from it. So you might think ‘that shape was quite nice but the flavour was horrible’ or, ‘it looks great but tastes bad’. Hopefully by the third time you get there. When I was a home baker I’d beat myself up if a recipe didn’t work and I’d never go back to it again but I’ve learnt so much since then.”
New development, and coming up with exciting, mouth-watering new concepts is key to any foodie business, and Rebecca’s eyes light up as she talks of her new kitchen to come at Darsham, where she can spend her days dreaming up new products.
Until then, it’s her home kitchen and Southwold which have proved ‘edible playgrounds’ for the baker.
In response to the growing demand for vegan food, a new crispy, chewy spiced chocolate cookie has been added to the bakery’s roll-call of treats. And a sticky toffee kumquat cake is in the pipeline.
“We’ve also added a pasty. This business has taught us some things. Before, they were buying most things in, but we could see a market for things we weren’t doing, like pasties – they sold loads of pasties here before. So we developed a recipe with really lovely pastry and it’s selling so well.”
The bakery is shut Christmas Day but open for the remainder of the holidays for you to stock up on sweet and savoury bites such as the limited edition festive breads – buy them quick before they stop making them.
“We’ve got cranberry, stilton and walnut and gruyere, cracked black pepper and red onion,” says Rebecca, “oh, and our bread inspired by Steve’s daughter’s mac and cheese. It’s got sweet potato, smoked paprika, mustard and smoked cheese. It’s so good. In fact, it won a Gold at the World Bread Awards a couple of months ago!”
Find the new Two Magpies Bakery on Aldeburgh high street.