Award-winning baker sets up shop in Bury St Edmunds
- Credit: WILL WOOSTER
Wooster’s Bakery has just opened in the town selling its much-loved pastries, breads and cakes.
It's hard to put into words just quite how good the pastries, cakes and bread cooked by Will Wooster and his brigade are. Regular customers to his shop (run by brother Joe) in Bardwell and to his Wooster's market stalls in the west of Suffolk will know exactly what I'm raving about.
Batch baked white loaves, all plump and pillowy, with that feathery little negligee of bread along each side where they tear them apart after cooling. Earthy spelt bread with a sheen to the crust, divine smeared with runny cheese and honey. The most incredible, sticky, dark, juicy malt loaf. Croissants, bursting with the flavour of Fen Farm butter, beautifully laminated and stuffed with chocolate, or perhaps a fudgy almond paste. Oh…and the morning buns - croissant dough, baked into muffin tins and lavished with vanilla pastry cream. I could go on.
The queue at the Wooster's stall in my hometown of Hadleigh certainly keeps Will's dad Simon on his toes, and they're regularly stripped of many of their delights before he can even dispatch everything from the van. In essence - this is the good stuff.
If you can't get to the regular markets you've really been missing out, but no more. Because the young baker has just opened a Wooster's shop in Bury St Edmunds, over in Langton Place between Whiting Street and Hatter Street in a former art gallery.
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"I never hid the fact I wanted a shop in Bury," Will says. "But it's not easy and I was never sure I would be able to sell enough bread to pay the rent there. You kind of need a bakery café, which is something I'd love to do down the line. I felt like this would be a really good opportunity to get a feel for how a shop would work in Bury. It's a nice little spot tucked out of the way."
All baking will continue on site at Bardwell, with the Bury St Edmunds store offering a wide selection of Wooster's products (including some of the cakes sold in the other shop, which don't always make it to the markets) alongside coffee to take away. What should customers who've never tried their products before expect?
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"Our malt loaf is pretty well known. It's been the one continuous thing we've done and it's really popular. Lots of people know malt loaf but ours is different. It's a bread of days gone by and quite old fashioned but I don't know anyone else who makes it like us. Sourdough is also a big thing for us. And we do lots of specials, so not just white and brown, but toasted seed, toasted walnut, porridge loaves - things that aren't commonplace in big cities. We are carving out a niche. A lot of people find our stall so striking because they're seeing bread they haven't tried before, and a more continental style, but also things like our old English yeasted white bread. Baking that in batches is like art, and pulling those apart on the stall is a bit pornographic," Will laughs.
Individual focaccia breads became a hot ticket for Woosters, adorned with all manner of savoury toppings, but the amount of work needed to get them out of the kitchen made them impossible. And so the recipe has been simplified, and transformed into a large traybake, cut into slabs, slathered in olive oil, rosemary and salt. "It's pretty much our bestseller and our go-to is rosemary, but that will chop and change. If we've got some nice cheese we'll put that on top. Or if mum and dad have some ripe tomatoes growing we'll pop those on with olive oil. It's nice to be able to have an impact with such simple ingredients."
While Will concentrates on bread, he's left the pastry making in the capable hands of team member Tom who uses nearly 100% raw Fen Farm butter from Bungay for a taste which Will says (and I won't disagree) is "phenomenal". It takes about 72 hours of love and patience to craft the dough before Tom can even think about rolling, filling or baking.
The dough is the starting point for Will's favourite morning buns. "I love those. I could eat one or two in the morning and at Bury Farmers' Market I can't make enough of them. Pain au chocolat and almond croissants are relatable but I don't know anyone else doing the croissant pastry with custard inside. It's a unique product and you can't get six of those for £1.50 at Tesco! They make us distinctive. And so do things like our Danishes. Those depend on the fruit we can get hold of because 99% of it is sourced if not from mum and dad's garden, then from call-outs on Facebook. Customers will come in with rhubarb or strawberries in exchange for a loaf of bread."
Cakes on sale will include everything from amaretti (a relatively new product for Wooster's), to rye cookies and brownies. "I made the brownie recipe three years ago and I can't remember why I changed it but it turned out so good. Inside is white chocolate, milk chocolate and salted caramel through. We do an amazing banana blondie too!"
Woosters has certainly come a long way since the foodie-preneur set up stall at Wyken Farmers' Market four years ago. Will now has four full time bakers and several part time market traders helping him out.
"I still can't quite believe it," Will says, stunned at his success.
Well, this satisfied customer can. The proof is in the pudding. Head for Bury to try his tantalising breads and more for yourselves.